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USDA Program Links Alabama Poultry Industry with Water Quality

USDA Program Links Alabama Poultry Industry with Water Quality

By Joshua LeBerte

Alabama poultry farmers in urgent need of a mortality facility are in luck.

Farmers can still submit applications to Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Animal Mortality Pilot. Signup time ends on July 14.

The pilot is in response to the burning of the River Valley Ingredients rendering facility in Hanceville last July. This facility offered many farmers a streamlined method of disposing their dead chickens.

Without this facility, Assistant State Conservationist Jason Gardner said some producers were without proper methods of disposing livestock.

“With that plant not being available, the only other options are out of state,” Gardner said. “The cost to handle their mortality has gone drastically higher. The other avenue would be if they went out and disposed of them by burying the birds. Then as the bird broke down, then it’s potential for the bacteria to get in the groundwater.”

Gardner recommends all poultry farmers to incinerate or compost their dead chickens. However, many producers lack the financial or technical services to construct an incinerator or a chicken composter.

Through the pilot, NRCS offers technical services including incinerator and compost construction.

The agency will provide an estimate on the volume of dead birds a farmer can expect to see from their chicken houses. NRCS will then look at a farmer’s Comprehensive Management Plan. This plan tells the producer how much nutrients they can spread over their available farmland or pastureland.

The agency also handles financial assistance.

EQIP will place greater emphasis on historically underserved applicants including beginning, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. These farmers are eligible for a higher pay rate. They are also eligible for a 50% advanced payment for purchasing materials or contracting.
Gardner said this pilot will not only provide aid to Alabama farmers, but it will promote clean water for all Alabamians.

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