LETTER: Don’t Turn County into a Dumpsite

June 22, 2015

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The letter below was sent June 18 to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors from Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns, who has requested it be published in the Wave.) 


As a resident of Northampton County since 1998, I respectfully join those who object to a rezoning ordinance that would allow commercial chicken facilities into the county. I understand Tyson and Perdue have proposed building 50 chicken houses in Northampton County as soon as possible. I urge you to reject their proposals. The chicken industry is a major source of environmental degradation on the Eastern Shore. Drive through Accomack County and you can smell the oppressive odor of the chicken industry. Drive through Accomack County and you see the sick and suffering chickens going up and down Route 13 and on the back roads. Is that what we want in Northampton County? I stand with those who say No.

Twenty years ago the Washington Post reported that the Delmarva Peninsula produced a million tons of chicken manure a year, enough to fill a football stadium. Now it is even worse. Do we want to turn Northampton County into a dumpsite for manure piles, rodents, flies, air pollution, and other unwholesome consequences for county residents to cope with? If we care about the people who live here, and the land we occupy, the answer is No.

Regarding the manure storage facilities and poultry litter incinerators, a report by Food & Water Watch, Poultry Litter Incineration: An Unsustainable Solution, says the incinerators produce toxic air emissions and will likely be subsidized by taxpayers. Toxic air emissions cited in the report include carbon monoxide, CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, volatile organic compounds, dioxin, particulate matter and the arsenic compound nitarsone. Do we want all this fecal pollution and pharmaceutical residue in a county whose residents, including children, already suffer from high levels of chronic respiratory infection?


I hope the Northampton County Board of Supervisors addresses these negative outcomes by refusing to allow commercial chicken houses, manure storage facilities, and chicken litter incinerators into the county. I stand with those who have a positive view of this county, its dignity and potential. I hope you do too. If so, the choice is clear. The chicken industry does not belong here.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.


Karen Davis, PhD
President, United Poultry Concerns



6 Responses to “LETTER: Don’t Turn County into a Dumpsite”

  1. Michael LaBelle on June 22nd, 2015 4:46 pm

    While I certainly understand the concern of some of the residents, the solution is NOT to prohibit the farms from being built. The solution is to process the waste and convert it into an easy to use organic soil amendment. That is what my company, Mighty Grow Organics does at our plant in SW Alabama. As you are probably aware, poultry production is a major industry in the SE. I developed the methodology we use to take a valuable waste product and “upcycle” it into a value added product. We now supply some of the largest organic farms in the nation with easy to use, mineral rich and safe to the environment product that is in strong demand.

    That is how you solve the problem, by implementing positive methods of handling the waste from these farms. That way you enjoy the increase in economic activity while protecting the environment and the beauty of the countryside.

  2. Camille Angeli on June 23rd, 2015 11:18 am

    Please listen to this urgent request for you to deny their propositions! We only want what is good and what will bring future growth and continued health for the community — not leave a legacy of battery farms you can smell long before reaching Northampton County and long after leaving it!

  3. David Gay on June 23rd, 2015 12:21 pm

    Mr. Labelle — how much GMO and pesticide is in your product? Seems if the CAFOs are feeding their animals this stuff and you process it into fertilizer then you are just returning this stuff to the soil and ultimately our one and only aquifer. Would love to know your answer.

  4. Rebecca Doughty Geary on June 26th, 2015 2:37 pm

    What is amazing to me is that this entire change rests in the hands of so few individuals? How is that possible? I realize they were voted in, but I sincerely doubt anyone had any idea they would be so irresponsible.

    Why are five to ten people allowed to make a decision as huge and far reaching as this? Allowing CAFOs into Northampton County, when everywhere else they are putting in restrictions to prohibit large factory farms?

    It’s mind boggling. We don’t prohibit CAFOs now. We just have strong boundaries in place to protect landowners.

    Nothing can be done to stop this. We will have chicken farms, probably in six months time.

    What a sad, sad loss. The BOS have no idea of the long term problems they are creating. They will always be remembered for what they have done, and it won’t be fondly.

  5. David Gay on June 26th, 2015 8:27 pm

    Still no answer from Mr. LaBelle? Wonder what’s in his product that he wants to spread on our soil?

  6. Michael LaBelle on June 29th, 2015 6:23 pm

    David Gay — Thank you for your question. In answer, there are NO GMOs in my fertilizer! Not sure where pesticides could enter the product since all the materials that are sprayed in a chicken house are pyrethrin based and as such are safe for chickens to be around. My process involves the anaerobic digestion of the raw poultry litter, after which I add a trace mineral clay (locally sourced — 70 plus minerals) along with a biological pack of beneficial microbes. Since all the nutrients in my product are bound to an organic molecule, you will get VERY little leaching into the water table, and if used properly, none.

    The point of using a product like mine is to BUILD the soil up, rather than to feed the plant. As we all know, too much poultry litter has been applied to too little land, resulting in mineral over-application. This is what I want to correct. Take the abundant, natural fertilizer, process it to make it easy to handle and as environmentally safe as possible and as easy to use/handle as possible and move it OUT OF THE AREA! There are millions of acres of farmland as well as lawns in this country that need the organic fertilizer that can be produced from raw poultry litter. The issue is that raw litter is hard to handle, smelly and potentially unsafe. So the answer to the problem is to process and move the fertilizer outside of the “nutrient dense” areas.

    I hope that answered your questions. If you have any other questions or would like to see what the end product actually looks like, see my website at http://www.mightygrow.com.