Annapolis, MD -- Last week, Delegate Vaughn Stewart’s bill to place a moratorium on the building of new industrial-scale chicken houses on the Eastern Shore was voted on unfavorably by the Environment & Transportation Committee. The bill, which would have prohibited the Department of Environment from issuing discharge permits to new and expanding factory farm operations, was prompted by years of inaction on the part of the Maryland government to protect Eastern Shore communities from polluted water and continued public health problems, most notably respiratory illnesses.
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 often contain tens of thousands of birds in one operation, are a leading source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The bill received broad coalition support from community leaders.
In response to the death of the bill, Lily Hawkins, Maryland Organizer for Food & Water Action, issued the following statement:
“We are saddened to see the death of such a necessary piece of legislation, as so many Maryland communities see their air, water, and threatened day in and day out by the exploitative factory farming industry. With nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to the bay becoming more dangerous to ecosystems in the face of climate change and warming waters, the need for a moratorium and subsequent ban on all industrial farming operations has never been so pressing. Eastern Shore advocates have fought tirelessly on behalf of their communities, and we will continue to stand with them against corporations that overlook community health and worker safety in the reckless pursuit of profits.”