Poultry Farmers and State Struggle with New Federal Pollution Requirements

An August 15 Baltimore Sun article describes how both poultry farmers and Maryland officials are struggling to implement new federally mandated nutrient plans as part of the Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Load requirements.

[Bobby] Graves is one of the hundreds of Maryland farmers who have become entangled in a new permit process that is pivotal to the state’s plan to reduce one of the leading sources of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay — livestock manure that seeps into local waterways.

The permit requirement, enacted by the state in December to comply with updated regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, is meant to tighten controls over pollution generated by the poultry industry. But the program has struggled to take off.

Almost no farmers have the training necessary to write the nutrient-management plans required under the program, and the government is struggling to meet the growing need for help. Farmers who do secure their nutrient plans find that there’s often little follow-up from the government to see whether their farms are complying with the plans they’ve laid out.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has just two inspectors to follow up with the more than 500 farmers who applied for permits, said spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus. The department can mete out penalties of up to $5,000 a day for each violation in a permit plan, or more if it takes legal action.

The EPA has made it clear that if the states do not enforce its regulations, the federal government can take back control of the process.

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