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Growers urged to comment on new CAFO permit
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Oct. 7, 2014) — There’s a new CAFO permit on the way and it could, for the first time, require a fee.
Members of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. whose chicken houses require the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permits are being urged to get involved in the comment period, which ends Oct. 21.
Here’s the background as outlined in a DPI letter to its members Sept. 29.
The permit process is administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
The current five-year permit expires in November and MDE is in the process of drafting a new one.
DPI said that examination of the new draft permit shows there are no substantive negative changes from the existing permit ... ”and indeed there are some improvements.”
However, DPI cautions in its letter, “the draft permit does allow for the imposition by the State of Maryland of permit fees to be paid by farms getting permit coverage.
“The annual fee could be as high as $1,200 per farm or $6,000 over the five-year life of the permit.”
Right now, DPI said, the state is not proposing a fee, but that could change in the months and years ahead.
“We seek your help to convince state officials not to impose a fee,” the letter said.
It continued: “Some groups in the environmental industry are calling for fees to raise money for more farm inspections and enforcement activities.
“They claim there are not enough inspectors and therefore CAFOs are polluting the state’s waters.
“When the existing permit was being discussed about half a dozen years ago, the state made a commitment that there would be no fee in Maryland as long as there is no fee in Delaware.
“There is no CAFO permit fee in Delaware or Virginia.”
DPI appealed to growers or anyone involved with or impacted by the industry to submit comments to the Maryland Department of the Environment to oppose the levying of a permit.
Writers were encouraged to explain their connection with the Delmarva chicken industry.
A public hearing on the tentative new CAFO regulations will be held Oct. 14, starting at 6 p.m. at the Henson Center on the UMES campus in Princess Anne, Md.