Statements and Responses
Perdue and Poultry Litter
The farmers who raise our poultry retain ownership of the litter because it is a resource with financial value to the farmer. For farmers whose crops need the nutrients in poultry litter, it offsets the costs of chemical fertilizers while improving soil quality. For those who cannot or do not want to use the litter, it is an agricultural commodity that can be sold to generate additional farm income, or bartered. The litter from a typical poultry farm is worth several thousand dollars per year to the farmer, whether it is sold or used to reduce chemical fertilizer costs.
Litter, like any other fertilizer, is used by farmers in accordance with nutrient management plans that match fertilizer application to the needs of each crop, minimizing the potential for nutrient run-off. We also require all of our growers have a nutrient management plan for the poultry operation, and will not place chicks on a farm if we find that is lacking. In addition, state regulations, such as the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) in Maryland, further regulate the movement and placement of poultry litter and fertilizers.
Poultry litter on Delmarva and in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Poultry litter remains valuable for those Delmarva growers whose crops need and are able to use the nutrients on their farms, or for those who choose to sell or barter their litter. However, there are areas of Delmarva where farm fields have a surplus of nutrients, and that litter cannot Ė and should not Ė be applied to those crops. We believe this should not be a burden for the Delmarva farmers who raise our chickens, something we recognized more than a decade and a half ago. In 2001, Perdue became the first company operating on Delmarva to put capital into an alternative use for poultry litter. Perdue AgriRecycle, a $12 million facility, recycles litter into pasteurized certified-organic fertilizer products. In the past 15 years, Perdue has spent more than $63 million dollars on litter management, including operating expenses for Perdue AgriRecycle and contributions to the litter transport fund. During that time, the company has handled more than 1 billion pounds of surplus poultry litter. Through Perdue AgriRecycle, Perdue can accept litter from any of its Delmarva growers who canít or donít want to use, sell or barter their litter.†