Study estimates ammonia emissions from Eastern Shore poultry farms, farmers refute findings

SNOW HILL, Md. – A new study commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is putting poultry farmers back in the hot seat after researchers at North Carolina State University released their findings on the estimated amount of ammonia chicken farms emit right here on the eastern shore.

“It does substantiate what citizens here on the lower shore have been saying for quite some time,” said Assateague Coastal Trust Executive Director, Kathy Phillips.

According to the report, researchers estimated that more than 600 poultry houses emit approximately 33.8 million pounds of ammonia per year, and out of that 33 million, 22.4 million pounds of ammonia was deposited to land and water on the Eastern Shore.

“The ammonia that’s being emitted from these houses is depositing close by, it’s staying within communities, it is getting into our local waterways,” said Phillips.

But chicken farmers here on the shore tell 47 ABC the study leaves out way too many important factors to be considered even remotely credible.

“When the study shows that all of a sudden it’s 365 days and we only have chickens in the house is 245 to 260 you’re 33% off on your findings. If you’re going to publish something like that at least say and be accurate that this does not reflect the real world on Delmarva,” said local poultry farmer Virgil Shockley.

Delmarva Poultry Industry also responded to the report saying it failed to factor in the litter amendments farmers spread to quote help soak up ammonia from the air. And that the assumptions were quote not a realistic approach.

“You take all that into consideration, and quite honestly I don’t know why they publish the thing,” said Shockley.

But numbers aside, advocates say they just want to take the right steps to ensure that the eastern shore remains a healthy and happy place to live.

“Let’s take some serious steps to limit the amount of these pollutants getting out into the air and we can do that quite easily by limiting the expansion of this industry,” said Phillips.

The Delmarva Poultry Industry released a statement saying, “Researchers did not approach DPI or our members to get data about the use of litter amendments or the frequency of layouts before publishing conclusions based on their incomplete model. We look forward to working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to correct those flawed assumptions.”

Categories: Local News, Maryland