Joint Agriculture Committee Update-Part II

A week later, on March 28, the committee came together again. This time the agenda covered two extremely sensitive topics: animal welfare and nutrient management.

Dr. Carolyn Orr from the Council of State Governments (CSG) reported that a university study showed that the EPA overestimated the amount of nutrients from the poultry operations coming into the environment by about four folds.  THIS IS HUGE FOR DELMARVA FARMERS!!! Apparently the EPA was using a model that relies on feeding practices that are 25 years old. Poultry farmers are much more efficient in their feeding practices today.

Dr. Orr went on to address animal welfare issues and the animal rights movement, which she singled out as the biggest threat to ag in the US today. She stated the movement is emotion backed, not science backed. Several fast food chains have required their pork suppliers and egg suppliers to use gestation free facilities. She also reported that several states have made it illegal to get false employment in a facility for the purpose to video tape. Witnesses are also required to report videotaping within 72 hours.

Several guests were present such as Gary Warren of the DE Farm Bureau  and Cooperative Extension representatives. Important to note, there was also a  representative of the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) in attendance. House members present included Chair Atkins and Chair Bunting, Representatives Quinn Johnson, Harvey Kenton, Bobby Outten, Jack Peterman, and Dave Wilson. Senate members present were Bruce Ennis, Bob Venables and Gary Simpson.

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All committee meetings are held on Wednesday afternoons, when in session, at Legislative Hall in Dover. They are open to the public. You can check the DE General Assembly website for updates on Committee meeting times and rooms (click on meeting schedules on left side tool bar). It’s updated daily and often you will see bills sneak in on committee meeting agendas or time changes at the last minute.  The Ag Committee for each chamber meets sporadically, either when a bill is introduced or when updates are needed. For example, there is a House Ag Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Wed., May 9 at 4pm. See the agenda here