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Weekly News Update for July 31, 2015

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

By Sarah Everhart

Cows sitting in the grass (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Poultry Industry Critical of O’Malley’s Biofuel Stance. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, is winning praise from corn farmers in Iowa for his support of a federal mandate to blend biofuels into gasoline. But the stance does not sit well with the poultry industry in his home state. Because much of the biofuel used to meet the federal standard is corn-based ethanol, the requirement helps drive up the price of the crop — a boon for the farmers who grow it. But poultry producers, who fatten their birds with corn feed, want to keep the price low. Click here to read the full story:

State Gears Up For Possible Bird Flu Invasion. The State of Maryland is setting up an emergency management center in Salisbury to handle the Avian Flu for when it arrives here. Officials believe it is just a matter of when, not if, the bird flu makes its way here. State Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder tells WBAL NewsRadio 1090 the emergency management center will have special equipment called foamers to get rid of any contaminated poultry. To read the full story go here:

Tractor on the dirt (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Alternative Bedding for Poultry Houses Can Improve Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay. There are over 4,000 poultry houses on the Delmarva Peninsula. Traditionally, growers have relied on pine shavings as a bedding material for their flocks. Once readily available as scrap from mills, shavings are now in limited supply and becoming more costly. Having engaged the poultry industry in conversations about this and other challenges facing agriculture and the Chesapeake Bay, The Nature Conservancy, the Chester River Association (CRA), the University of Maryland Extension, and the University of Delaware Extension have proposed a potential solution: switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). The University of Delaware Extension and the University of Maryland Extension, in collaboration with the Conservancy and CRA, conducted several field trials to study the viability of switchgrass as an alternative bedding material. The Nature Conservancy reached out to Perdue Farms, headquartered in Salisbury, Maryland, in hopes of testing switchgrass on a larger scale. Perdue agreed to take part in a year-long study of eight poultry houses, four using traditional pine shavings as bedding and four using chopped switchgrass. To read the full story go here:

COOL before Senate: The Senate is split on COOL repeal or authorizing a voluntary label. Earlier this summer, the House passed a repeal of the law with no provisions for a voluntary label. This all comes in the wake of the U.S. losing a WTO challenge to the most recent version of COOL brought by Canada and Mexico. To read more about the Senate’s bills click here:

FSMA Webinar Recording Available: for those that missed the FSMA webinar last week, the recording is available at The webinar covered the proposed produce rule and the proposed preventative rule. Check out other webinars at

Manure as a Solid Waste and Clean Air Issues in Animal Agriculture Webinar – On August 6th at noon (EST), Dr. Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma (link is external)associate professor of agricultural economics, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University (link is external), will discuss the implications of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Clean Air Act (CAA) on animal agriculture, recent litigation, and other legal issues.This webinar is open to livestock producers, Extension educators, agricultural service professionals, and anyone else interested in learning more about the potential impacts of RCRA and the CAA on livestock operations. The webinar is free to attend. Registration is available at:

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