Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, email@example.com, 804-786-5045.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: November 14, 2007
Contact: Gary Waugh, DCR Public Relations Manager, (804) 786-5045, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Poultry industry, government officials sign agreements to help water quality
(Harrisonburg, VA) – Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr. and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Robert S. Bloxom today joined representatives from Virginia’s poultry industry as they signed agreements with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation with a goal of reducing by 30 percent the amount of phosphorus found in poultry litter by 2010. Phosphorus, along with nitrogen, is a nutrient that can cause significant water quality problems when it occurs in excessive amounts.
Representatives from Cargill Turkey Production LLC, Perdue Farms Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative Inc. and George's Foods LLC agreed to use enzymes such as phytase to help broilers and turkeys better absorb the phosphorus in the their feed. This in turn will allow them to adjust rations to include less of the nutrient.
These poultry integrators formulate the rations used by thousands of farmers under contract to raise millions of chickens and turkeys annually in Virginia.
"This is the latest in a list of steps the poultry industry has
taken in conjunction with state agencies to help reduce the potential
of excess nutrients finding their way into Virginia’s waters,” said
Bryant. “It is the continuation of a productive and cooperative
The Chesapeake Bay Program recognizes feed management as a promising and cost effective way of reducing phosphorus in poultry litter, a mix of manure and bedding that is often spread on farm fields as fertilizer. The multi-state and federal partnership addresses feed management in its Strategy for Managing Surplus Nutrients from Agricultural Animal Manure and Poultry Litter in the Chesapeake Bay.
“This agreement reflects the poultry industry’s longstanding commitment to proactive, environmental stewardship,” said VPF president Hobey Bauhan. “Along with other voluntary initiatives, our industry has demonstrated a meaningful commitment to Virginia’s water quality objectives, including the Commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay goals.”
The agreement may also help the industry meet state law. The regulatory
Virginia Poultry Waste Management Act requires commercial poultry processors
to consider nutrient reduction strategies in the formulation of feed rations.
The use of these enzymes is not new. The state has provided assistance in the past to help the poultry industry with start up costs involved.
“In years past the Department of Conservation and Recreation has provided Water Quality Improvement Fund grants for poultry integrators to purchase and install enzyme injection equipment in feed mills,” said DCR director Joseph H. Maroon who signed the agreements for the state. “This agreement builds on these previous efforts for the benefit of the industry and Virginia’s waters.”
Under the new agreements signed today, phytase or other enzymes will
be used in rations for all broilers and turkeys being produced for market.
There will also be an accompanying reduction in phosphorus in the feed
for these birds.
Beginning next July 1, DCR will do annual assessments of phosphorus levels in poultry litter from broilers and turkeys. While litter for breeding stock will not be evaluated, integrators agree to use similar feed management to the extent possible with breeders.
“There are potentially more benefits to these agreements than just for water quality,” said Bloxom. “There is the possibility the use of these enzymes will lower feed costs by lowering the amount of phosphorus the integrators need to purchase.”-30-