A reality of factory farming in the United States is the incredible amount of manure that these operations produce: 13 times more waste than the entire U.S. population each year. On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where hundreds of millions of chickens are raised annually, the resulting mountains of manure are often applied as fertilizer in excessive quantities, which runs off fields into the Chesapeake Bay, causing enormous damage to the environment.
Ultimately, it is taxpayers who are on the hook to pay for these impacts, not the giant poultry processors like Perdue and Tyson that profit from the factory farm model. The newest state-funded “solution” to the excess manure problem in Maryland is the construction of incinerators that burn poultry litter — manure, bedding, feathers and spilled feed — turning it into energy, fertilizer and, potentially, feed for chickens. Incinerating poultry litter has proven to be economically inefficient and environmentally damaging, and the construction of these extremely expensive facilities almost guarantees the expansion of factory farms that produce a steady supply of manure to feed the incinerators.