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Perdue proud of its environmental record [Letter]

Regarding your editorial, "Perdue's ruffled feathers" (Sept. 22), The Baltimore Sun's editorial board is entitled to its opinion but not its own facts. The editorial states that Perdue "has failed to … support" the state's waste-to-energy project. In fact, Perdue, in partnership with Fibrowatt LLC, submitted a proposal in response to the Maryland Clean Bay Power Request for Proposal. The Fibrowatt/Perdue AgriBusiness proposal called for a combined heat and power biomass boiler operation to be located at the Perdue AgriBusiness Zion Church Road complex near Salisbury. Our proposal was rejected in favor of one from Green Planet Power Solutions which has not yet begun construction.

The editorial also notes that the Clean Bay Power project is intended "to give farmers an alternative use for chicken litter." This would be in addition to the alternative offered by Perdue for the past 13 years, namely Perdue AgriRecycle, a poultry litter recycling plant that will accept litter from any chicken farmer who needs or wants an alternative to land application. Since 2001, we've invested more than $50 million in Perdue AgriRecycle and continue to fund the cost of this operation. Not coincidentally, the Perdue AgriRecycle facility is located near Seaford, Del., not in Maryland, due to obstacles encountered when we attempted to build the facility in Maryland.

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Perdue AgriRecycle has recycled or relocated 1.5 billion pounds of poultry litter, representing more than 130 million pounds of nutrients. Since 2008, more than 50 percent of the nutrients recycled have been moved out of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Far from expecting "state government … to ignore entirely the polluting effects of chicken waste on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries," as part of our commitment to environmental stewardship, we have been actively working to minimize our environmental impact. Since 2002, Perdue Farms has fully funded grower participation in the Maryland manure transport fund so that any farmer raising chickens for Perdue can take advantage of this program. Perdue has paid more than $1.7 million into the Maryland manure transport fund since 2006.

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We continue to explore other environmentally responsible uses for poultry litter to be able to provide our farm partners additional choices should they need them to meet current or future regulations. To date we have evaluated more than 60 different processes and projects.

We were also the first — and only — poultry company to establish a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist the farm families who grow our chickens in enhancing the environmental aspects of their poultry operations.

You may take issue with our perception of Maryland's regulatory environment, but the facts about our environmental responsibility speak for themselves.

Steve Schwalb, Salisbury

The writer is vice president of environmental sustainability for Perdue Farms, Inc.

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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