About 40 Eastern Shore chicken houses collapsed under the weight of the recent snow, and the Maryland Department of the Environment is giving farmers the option to burn the wood debris instead of hauling it to the landfill. The snow that fell in Maryland during February storms damaged or destroyed at least 41 poultry houses at 29 different locations, says Sue duPont, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The average chicken house has about 30,000 birds, but not all the houses had birds in them at the time of collapse.
Because of environmental regulations, farmers were concerned they would have to haul remains of the houses to a landfill, said Senator J. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-Somerset. The cost of hauling the debris could have been between $45,000 and $60,000 per chicken house. The Maryland Department of the Environment released new guidance for poultry and livestock farmers that allows farmers to burn poultry and other livestock shelters damaged during the snowstorms this month under certain circumstances. Among the requirements: the building must have been damaged during the snowstorms; animal carcasses must be separated from the building debris; the farmer must receive a burn permit in his or her county; and, the materials must be burned by March 21.
Some producers who suffered damage may be eligible for the Farm Service Agency’s livestock indemnity program. Toby Lloyd, farm programs chief for the Maryland Farm Service Agency, said farmers should check with their county FSA office to determine eligibility.