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Growers to be reimbursed for freezer unit collection fee

Cost-share program to assist farmers with mortality management.


July 21, 2017, Delaware – Delaware poultry growers using freezer storage units for routine mortality management can now recoup 75 percent of the collection fee paid to have their frozen deadstock hauled away.

The Delaware Nutrient Management Commission unanimously approved a pilot cost-share program intended to motivate increased adoption of freezer units.

Commission members cited several reasons for supporting the relatively new nutrient management practice, including improved worker welfare, enhanced biosecurity, better neighbor relations and a creditable reduction in pollution.

The commission, which has a long history of promoting good stewardship practices, already administers another hauling cost-share initiative. The state’s manure relocation program, which has been operating for a decade, assists with the transport of litter from a farm where the excess nutrients were generated to another farm in need of nutrients or to an alternative-use facility.

“The new mortality relocation program is a natural complement to the original one,” said Victor Clark, who co-owns Greener Solutions, a mortality collection service based in Millsboro. “Whether the excess nutrients are in the form of manure or mortality, encouraging alternatives to land application is one of the commission’s stated strategic goals.”

Interested farmers can apply to the Nutrient Management section of the Delaware Department of Agriculture for the cost-share funding. The reimbursement procedure is simple:

Growers must first register at www.accounting.delaware.gov/w9_notice.shtml before applying for cost assistance the first time.

The mortality collection company will send its customers a reimbursement form in January of each year containing the total fees paid in the prior year.

That form is then filled out and submitted to the Delaware Department of Agriculture as the invoice for mortality collection reimbursement.

The payment is then deposited directly into each applicant’s bank account.

The reimbursement form will be added to the nutrient reduction statement that the collection company already mails annually to its customers. That one-page statement sets out how many pounds of mortality – along with the associated amount of nitrogen and phosphorous – were prevented from being land applied and potentially polluting area waterways.

“We thought it was important to share with the growers the real-world impact of their nutrient management efforts, so we began issuing these annual nutrient reduction statements a few years ago,” said Terry Baker, Clark’s business partner.

The amount of nitrogen and phosphorous being diverted from land application has broader implications. A joint application by Delaware and Maryland to assign the use of freezer units “interim best management practice” status was approved last year by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Ag Workgroup.

Member states can now use this BMP as part of their menu of options for reaching their pollution reduction targets. Once those interim numbers for nitrogen and phosphorous content are deemed final, all of the nitrogen and phosphorous that has been diverted since interim status was granted will be grandfathered in, meaning the states can claim those reductions, helping them to meet their overall nutrient reduction goals.

Chris Brosch, commission administrator, said, “The method of crediting this BMP already exists because it works the same way manure transport out of the state works, but with more ancillary benefits.”

Using on-farm freezer units for mortality management is simple. Routine mortality is stored inside a specially designed freezer collection unit. A customized collection vehicle arrives between flocks to empty the units so they are ready for the next flock.

The deadstock is taken to a rendering plant where the material is recycled for other uses (like using poultry fat to make biofuels), which is why the material must be preserved in a freezer until pickup.

Growers switching to freezer units have been able to greatly reduce the time and money they previously spent on composting, realizing thousands of dollars a year in operational savings. They have also enjoyed better biosecurity because the sealed containers lock out scavengers and flies, reducing the risk of disease transmission. The grower, and the grower’s neighbors, enjoy a greatly improved quality of life with the elimination of smells and flies.

For more information about the cost-share program, visit the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission at 2320 S. Dupont Highway, Camden, or call 302-698-4558. For more information about on-farm freezer collection units, go to www.FarmFreezers.com or call 844-754-2742.