Proposed Poultry Litter Management Act Means a Change in How Growers and Integrators Manage Litter

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson and Paul Goeringer


People in plastic gear with baby chicks (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).
People in plastic gear with baby chicks (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This post should not be considered legal advice or a political statement for or against this proposed legislation.


I hope, this year, to look at more proposed legislation currently pending before the General Assembly during the 2016 session. Recently introduced was SB 496, the Poultry Litter Management Act (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/sb/sb0496f.pdf), which would change how poultry litter is handled in Maryland. SB 496 would require a poultry company, also known as the integrator, to take ownership of poultry litter in certain situations. The legislation would also make certain information available which currently is not publically available.


Overview

Before we look at the legislation in detail, let’s talk about how the current system works in Maryland. Currently, the contract between the integrators and growers specifies that the litter is the property of the grower. Growers utilize the litter as a low cost organic fertilizer that is applied to various fields according to a comprehensive nutrient management plan. Litter can be temporarily stored according to Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) regulations. If growers over apply nutrients without regards to their nutrient management plan or improperly store litter, then those growers will face penalties from MDE. The excess litter can be transported to other producers in need of nutrients or to alternative users (such as utilization for energy production) through programs offered through Maryland Department of Agriculture.


Proposed Legislation

The proposed legislation would change how the current system operates. Under the proposed legislation, a grower would only retain the amount of manure necessary to meet the nutrient needs from the comprehensive nutrient management plan. Any excess litter would be the responsibility of the integrator to remove from the farm and deliver to a specified list of places; more on that in a minute. This removal of excess litter would take place once a year.