Del. Vaughn Stewart stands with policy experts and community advocates to call for a moratorium on factory farms in Maryland.
Annapolis, MD -- Bill sponsors Delegate Vaughn Stewart and Senator Clarence Lam, policy experts, and personally impacted members of the Eastern Shore community came together today to voice their support for the Factory Farm Moratorium Bill (HB1312) at a press conference and hearing. The bill places a moratorium on new and expanding industrial-scale chicken houses on the Eastern Shore. In 2018, Maryland’s factory farms produced 4.3 billion pounds of broiler chicken -- and over 400,000 tons of litter. These industrial chicken houses, which oftentimes contain tens of thousands of birds in one operation, are the leading source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. They emit ammonia, particulate matter and endotoxins linked to respiratory illnesses, exploit growers with abusive contracts, and burden Maryland taxpayers, who help foot the bill to transport hundreds of thousands of tons of waste each year.
The bill prohibits the Department of Environment from issuing discharge permits to new and expanding factory farm operations until later on in 2020. The State of Maryland has repeatedly failed to rein in or study the negative impacts of factory farms on the Eastern Shore. This legislation would protect our air, water, climate and communities from further pollution while more safeguards are put into place.
"Large factory farms pose uncertain harm to both the environment and public health, and we should study these risks before allowing expansion,” says Del. Vaughn Stewart, the bill’s sponsor. “As a two-time cancer survivor exposed to Monsanto toxins as a child, erring on the side of human health is personal to me."
“I am introducing this moratorium bill because there has yet to be a scientifically rigorous study on the effect factory farms have on the air quality of the Eastern Shore,” says Sen. Clarence Lam, sponsor of the factory farm moratorium in the Maryland Senate. “All Maryland residents deserve clean air to breathe, and this bill will ensure that no large factory farms are built until we know their effect on the surrounding community.”
"It is time that Maryland leaders address the production of poultry litter by placing a moratorium on new and expanding factory poultry farms,” says Amanda Starbuck, Senior Food Researcher and Policy Analyst from Food & Water Action. “Industry shouldn’t have it both ways—they shouldn’t be able to continue to expand on the backs of communities and the environment while evading safeguards and accountability. This bill does not put current growers out of business; rather, it puts a strategic pause on the expansion of the industry until its current harms are addressed."
“The unmitigated growth of factory farms in Maryland has contributed to public health harms for the state’s most vulnerable communities and environmental degradation that threatens the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” says Darya Minovi, Policy Analyst for the Center for Progressive Reform. “Until the state puts regulatory measures in place to mitigate these effects, the Center for Progressive Reform supports a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms.”
“The truth of the matter is that it’s time for Maryland to put people before we put profit,” says Reverend Kobi Little from the Maryland chapter of the NAACP. “For too long factory farms have been able to take advantage of people who have not been able to advocate for their rights. They’ve subjected their workers and the community to poor working conditions, poor health conditions and poor environmental conditions.”
"The State continues to drag its feet when it comes to addressing the number one source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and our local waterways: agriculture, and, in particular, pollution caused by the poultry industry,” says Kathy Phillips, Executive Director of the Assateague Coastal Trust. “For too many years we have watched MDE and MDA use delaying tactics like 'studies' and 'workgroups' that are either paid for, or seats filled by, the very industry the State is supposed to be regulating. Yet even after all these years no one knows what to do with all the manure being generated by an industry that continues to grow and continues to externalize its waste clean up costs on farmers and the taxpayer. We must stop new construction of poultry houses until Maryland can prove they have an adequate plan to contain and transport poultry waste products, a plan that will not only confirm the Bay's Total Maximum Daily Load goals will be met, but will also assure citizens on the Eastern Shore that federal water quality and air quality standards are being met."
“With roughly 387,000 tons of chicken litter being produced every single year and without a single environmentally sound option for disposal, the reality is clear: we need a moratorium on factory farms,” says Kate Breiman, State Director of Environment Maryland. “We cannot allow polluting industries to destroy the Chesapeake Bay, an integral part of our state's identity as well as our economy.”