Annapolis, MD – The following is a statement attributable to Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder in response to the Poultry Litter Management Act legislation in the Maryland General Assembly:
“In light of the recent legislative hearings on the ‘Poultry Litter Management Act’ (SB 496/HB 599), I believe it is important to make two clarifications. The first is to define the word ‘excess’ as it relates to poultry litter in Maryland. The second is to clarify how the Maryland Department of Agriculture originally estimated 228,000 tons of manure would need to be transported.
“The Maryland Department of Agriculture defines litter as ‘excess’ when it cannot be used as an organic fertilizer on the land where it is generated. However, most farmers sell this ‘excess’ to other farmers that use it in accordance with a nutrient management plan, or to facilities that process it for alternative uses. In these instances, there is not an overabundance of litter.
“For instance, ‘no-land’ chicken farms — that is, poultry farms that do not grow any crops — have 100 percent ‘excess’ litter. However, most of those farmers sell that manure as fertilizer to other farmers or to alternative use facilities. So, farmers who operate poultry farms may have no ‘excess’ manure if they apply the litter to their fields with low phosphorus levels as indicated by their nutrient management plans, or sell their litter to a broker or another farmer who needs the fertilizer for his crops.
“This use of the word ‘excess’ has led to significant confusion and misunderstanding.
“The department tracks where poultry litter is generated in Maryland and where it is being applied or if it is transported off the farm of origin, using annual implementation reports submitted to the department as required by the nutrient management law. Based on information we have, to date, there is not an excess of poultry litter in Maryland.
“While planning for implementation of the phosphorus management tool (PMT), the department used University of Maryland Nutrient Management Program data to estimate how much manure would be available if cropland was further restricted from manure application under the PMT.
“For planning purposes, the department estimated that 228,000 tons of poultry litter would require relocation to other farms for land application or alternate uses. This is the estimate was used for the PMT economic impact study conducted by Salisbury University in 2014. The department intends to modify these estimates as real data becomes available.”