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List of State Officials - Martin O'Malley, Governor; Anthony Brown, Lt. Governor; Shari T. Wilson, MDE Secretary 

Volume IV, Number 3

 February 2010

eMDE is a quarterly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state. 

MDE Issues Permit to Reduce Farm Pollution

By Gary Kelman, Land Management Administration

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On December 1, 2009, MDE issued the General Discharge Permit for Animal Feeding Operations. The CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)/MAFO (Maryland Animal Feeding Operation) Permit brings the Maryland poultry industry under both Federal and State regulation. The permit also regulates farms raising swine, dairy cattle, beef cattle, and other animals.

Maryland’s poultry producers are taking significant steps to implement best management practices that will reduce nutrient pollution into the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays. 

Previously, Maryland had fewer than 15 CAFOs permitted under its 1996 General Permit. Inclusion of the poultry industry will bring in hundreds of additional farms under CAFO regulation. So far, more than 450 farms have applied for permit coverage.

Poultry production supports much of the commerce on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The vast fields of corn and soy throughout Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties feed the millions of chickens produced in Maryland. The industry is made up of “producers,” who raise the poultry, and “integrators” such as Perdue Farms, Mountaire Farms, Allen’s Family Foods, and Tyson Foods, that process the chickens.

Pollution on poultry farms can come from two sources: excess fertilizer on crops, which runs off and pollutes local waterways, and discharge of nutrients through improper storage of “chicken litter,” a mixture of manure and wood shavings. Much of the chicken litter is used as fertilizer, reducing the chemical fertilizers used to grow crops. The proper application of manure is covered under a nutrient management plan from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. 

The new CAFO/MAFO General Discharge Permit does not allow farmers to discharge any stormwater that has come into contact with manure or other contaminants in a farm’s production area to Maryland surface waters through a ditch, swale, or pipe. Contaminated water must be contained and minimized through the use of best management practices such as retention ponds without outlets, good housekeeping, and storing all manure/chicken litter in the chicken houses or in roofed manure storage sheds. 

MDE is meeting with farmers to discuss the regulations and their obligations. Organizations such as the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. are facilitating meetings with their members where MDE can provide the latest information about the CAFO/MAFO Permit. 

The CAFO/MAFO regulations and General Discharge Permit are just one part of a comprehensive, statewide effort to address all sources of pollution that are impairing our waterways: wastewater treatment plants, industrial discharges, septic systems, urban/suburban stormwater runoff, and air emissions from power plants, vehicles, and trucks.

Visit this page for more information on CAFO/MAFO or contact Gary Kelman, at 410-537-4423 or Gary.Kelman@maryland.gov


©2010 Copyright MDE

Editorial Board
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230