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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: November 14, 2007
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 industryas they signed agreements with the Virginia Department of Conservationand Recreation with a goal of reducing by 30 percent the amount of phosphorusfound in poultry litter by 2010. Phosphorus, along with nitrogen, is anutrient that can cause significant water quality problems when it occursin excessive amounts.
Representatives from Cargill Turkey Production LLC, Perdue Farms Inc.,Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, Virginia Poultry GrowersCooperative Inc. and George's Foods LLC agreed to use enzymes such asphytase to help broilers and turkeys better absorb the phosphorus in thetheir feed. This in turn will allow them to adjust rations to includeless of the nutrient.
These poultry integrators formulate the rations used by thousands offarmers under contract to raise millions of chickens and turkeys annuallyin Virginia.
"This is the latest in a list of steps the poultry industry hastaken in conjunction with state agencies to help reduce the potentialof excess nutrients finding their way into Virginia’s waters,” saidBryant. “It is the continuation of a productive and cooperativepartnership.
The Chesapeake Bay Program recognizes feed management as apromising 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 itsStrategy for Managing Surplus Nutrients from Agricultural Animal Manureand Poultry Litter in the Chesapeake Bay.
“This agreement reflects the poultry industry’s longstandingcommitment to proactive, environmental stewardship,” said VPF presidentHobey Bauhan. “Along with other voluntary initiatives, our industryhas demonstrated a meaningful commitment to Virginia’s water qualityobjectives, including the Commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay goals.”
The agreement may also help the industry meet state law. The regulatoryVirginia Poultry Waste Management Act requires commercial poultry processorsto consider nutrient reduction strategies in the formulation of feed rations.
The use of these enzymes is not new. The state has providedassistance in the past to help the poultry industry with start up costsinvolved.
“In years past the Department of Conservation and Recreation hasprovided Water Quality Improvement Fund grants for poultry integratorsto purchase and install enzyme injection equipment in feed mills,” saidDCR director Joseph H. Maroon who signed the agreements for the state. “Thisagreement builds on these previous efforts for the benefit of the industryand Virginia’s waters.”
Under the new agreements signed today, phytase or other enzymes willbe used in rations for all broilers and turkeys being produced for market.There will also be an accompanying reduction in phosphorus in the feedfor these birds.
Beginning next July 1, DCR will do annual assessments of phosphoruslevels in poultry litter from broilers and turkeys. While litter for breedingstock will not be evaluated, integrators agree to use similar feed managementto the extent possible with breeders.
“There are potentially more benefits to these agreements than justfor water quality,” said Bloxom. “There is the possibilitythe use of these enzymes will lower feed costs by loweringthe amount of phosphorus the integrators need to purchase.”