HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is trying to incentivize farmers across the state to purchase more poultry litter from three counties including two in the Valley.
The DCR is increasing incentive payment rates by $10 per ton for farmers from outside the Valley to purchase the litter from Accomack, Page and Rockingham Counties.
The cost-sharing incentive program is meant to encourage farmers around the state to use the poultry waste from the Valley as fertilizer. It’s part of the larger Chesapeake Bay Restoration Plan.
“The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Plan has certain goals for transporting litter from Rockingham, Page and Accomack Counties to other counties where there is not a lot of poultry production, and the litter can be used as an organic fertilizer in an environmentally friendly way,” said Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation.
Bauhan said poultry litter is a valuable source of fertilizer with properties that help improve soil, making it an asset for the Valley’s poultry farmers to use or ship and sell.
“There are regions of the state that don’t have the benefit of a lot of poultry farms nearby. You look at the Shenandoah Valley, and we have such rich, productive farmland. Part of that is because we have such a resource here in poultry litter,” said Bauhan.
Bauhan said the southernmost region of the state near the North Carolina border is one area that can improve its soil quality through the use of poultry litter.
The ultimate goal of the program is to help develop poultry litter markets outside of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and in designated areas within the Watershed. The increase in incentive payments to farmers purchasing the litter is meant to help offset high fuel costs.
The new incentive payments can be $17.50, $25 or $30 per ton of litter depending on how far the litter is transported and if it the destination is outside the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
“It’s essentially tiered toward how far the litter needs to move, and they would prefer that it goes all the way outside the Bay Watershed, which is why they’ve assigned higher payments to those farms,” said Bauhan.
For poultry farmers in Page and Rockingham Counties, the increase in incentive payments should help boost the sale of their poultry litter.
“This just helps the overall market and allows poultry farmers to be able to have their litter transported across the state and hopefully receive a strong price for that product,” said Bauhan.