Maryland state regulators have fined 104 out of the state’s 574 “animal feeding operations” since July 1. According to the Baltimore Sun, the growers failed to file information required annually outlining what they did to keep their flocks' waste from polluting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Those operations that qualify as animal feeding operations raise 37,500 or more birds at a time and are regulated more closely. The Sun reports that 89 were fined $250 for submitting incomplete reports, and the other 15 received $500 fines for not reporting anything.
The reports, required once a year, spell out how much waste was generated, how it was stored to keep rainfall from washing it into nearby waterways, and what was ultimately done with it. The waste is often spread on fields to fertilize crops, either on that farm or elsewhere.
The fines represent a new, tougher stance by the state. Until recently, regulators say, they have sought to cajole and work with growers to comply with the paperwork requirements of five-year-old regulations that many farmers bitterly opposed -- and still don't think are warranted.
"This is the first time we're reaching out in enforcement," said Hillary Miller, deputy director of MDE's land management administration. "They really don't get sent these notices until we've tried and tried and tried to get these reports worked out with them."