Participation by chicken farms in environmental plan continues to grow, industry survey shows

The vast majority of the nation's chicken farms are participating in a voluntary plan to minimize the impact of litter and manure on soil and water, according to a survey taken by the National Chicken Council.

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2001 — The vast majority of the nation's chicken farms are participating in a voluntary plan to minimize the impact of litter and manure on soil and water, according to a survey taken by the National Chicken Council.

Nearly 75 percent of growout farms associated with companies participating in the Environmental Framework voluntary plan have litter or nutrient management plans in place or have applied for assistance in preparing them, according to a survey conducted by NCC. That compares with 66 percent of farms that reported one year ago that they had plans in place or had applied for them.

NCC surveyed participating companies on their involvement, and the involvement of their contract growers, in the Environmental Framework and Implementation Strategy for Poultry Operations adopted by the NCC Board of Directors in 1999 for voluntary adoption by member companies. The survey for calendar year 2000 showed that 28 companies, representing 92 percent of nationwide production, are participating in the program.

"We are pleased to see that active participation in the program continues to grow," said Dr. James E. Marion, Technical Advisor to NCC. "The industry has taken its commitment to environmental management seriously."

Development and use of a litter or manure management plan is considered a critical step in protecting groundwater and surface water from excess nitrogen and phosphorus contained in chicken litter, since most of it is used as fertilizer. The plans are developed by qualified experts, usually connected to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Most chickens in the United States are produced on privately owned farms under contract with the major production and processing companies. The survey included both contract farms and company-owned farms. Specifically:

* 63 percent of contract growers who work with companies responding to the survey — some 14,685 growers — currently have litter or manure management plans.

* 12 percent of contract growers (an additional 2,706 growers) have applied for plans.

* 98 percent of company-owned farms (295) have litter management plans in place.

* Combining the two categories, 75 percent of farms have plans or have applied for them.

The National Chicken Council is the Washington-based trade association representing integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens.

SOURCE: National Chicken Council

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