Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chickens in Pittsburgh

Just got back from the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association meetings in Pittsburgh. That probably sounds terrifically dull to most of you, but I had a great time! One opportunity I enjoyed was a chance to talk with several of my colleagues down at the University of Maryland. Prof. Lichtenberg of Maryland's Agricultural and Resource Economics department told me about this report he and two other professors in the department put together almost 10 years ago on chicken farming and the Chesapeake. A quick search also turned up this paper by his co-author Dr. Doug Parker and another paper the two did jointly. I haven't yet read those works (so I don't know how much they overlap) but it sounds like they show that the chicken waste has more value as fertilizer than to any other use, and that if implemented correctly, the waste need not pollute the Bay. However, a report issued yesterday by the Pew Charitable Trust comes to some different conclusions. One complicating factor is that the another possible use, energy generation, is pretty appealing in this state. Marylanders had the highest average monthly bill for energy of any state. Hopefully in my Resources class we can parse the issues and figure out how the positions relate.

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