Waterkeepers Chesapeake – a coalition of 19 independent Waterkeeper organizations – is working to ensure the waters of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays are swimmable, drinkable, and swimmable. Waterkeepers Chesapeake is deeply concerned about the threat posed to the Chesapeake Bay by the massive expansion of industrial poultry operations on the Eastern Shore. Agriculture is the largest source of pollution to the Bay, causing toxic runoff that contributes to lethal conditions for crabs, fish, oysters and other wildlife in the Bay.
The Eastern Shore’s nearly 500 existing industrial-sized chicken operations generate over 300,000 tons of chicken litter annually. Spreading the chicken litter over and over on the same Eastern Shore farm fields to the point of oversaturation is the most common method of disposal. To date, the poultry industry has failed to develop a solution for its manure problem. In fact, the large poultry companies that own these birds take no responsibility for the excess manure generated by the industry that makes them millionaires. Instead, the problem is left to the farmers who grow their birds on contract and to Maryland taxpayers.
Header photo by Assateague COASTKEEPER.