HARRISONBURG, Va. — Phosphorus-rich poultry litter accumulates, is collected and shipped for use on Virginia’s farms to enhance soil and grow robust crops.
And now end users of poultry litter are receiving increased incentives to obtain the material shipped from Accomack, Page and Rockingham counties through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Virginia Poultry Litter Transport Incentive Program.
The cost-share program incentivizes poultry growers in Accomack to ship poultry waste off the Eastern Shore and encourages Page and Rockingham poultry operators to transport the material outside of those main poultry-producing counties. Incentive payments vary based on shipment location. Because gas prices are topping out at record highs, the incentive payment rate is going up too.
“This is a cost-share incentive program for farmers who use litter from the Valley in places where there’s less soil phosphorus,” said Seth Mullins, nutrient management coordinator for animal waste at the Virginia DCR. “The big change—they added $10 per ton to the incentive payment to account for increases in fuel costs. I think it’s pretty significant. For some, it went from $15 to $25 a ton.”
The goal is to encourage the development of self-sustaining poultry litter markets outside the Chesapeake Bay watershed, as well as designated areas within the watershed. Through the program, $17.50, $25 or $30 is provided per ton of litter moved to help cover additional costs associated with increased transport distances.
“There had been some grumbling,” Mullins explained. “Fuel and fertilizer costs went up, so demand for litter went up.”
He said program updates also included clarification on deadlines for submitting incentive reimbursement paperwork.
DCR staff do not facilitate the process of brokering poultry litter connections. The program is implemented in partnership with the Virginia Poultry Federation, which seeks to match buyers with sellers of poultry litter.
“I think the increased amounts will help with higher transportation costs, and support efforts to meet Chesapeake Bay restoration goals,” said Hobey Bauhan, VPF president.
“It’s the end user’s responsibility to find the litter,” Mullins said. “If they get it, meet requirements and submit the paperwork, we’ll give them the incentive payment.”
To receive an incentive payment through this program, litter must be transported to a destination within designated eligible counties. See a map, review application details and download forms at the DCR website: dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-
–Virginia Farm Bureau