November 02, 2007

DELMARVA SENATORS APPLAUD DHS RULE CHANGE TO EASE BURDEN ON EASTERN SHORE FARMERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin, Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) today applauded the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) rule change that will avoid imposing additional regulations on poultry farmers using 7,500 pounds or more of propane gas to fuel their farms.  In an August letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Senators criticized the agency's proposed regulations, which could have affected as many as 20,000 individual family-owned and operated poultry farms nationwide. 

In an announcement today, DHS said it will raise the propane limit to 60,000 pounds.  In addition, any tank that stores less than 10,000 pounds of propane will not be counted toward the 60,000-pound limit.  This dramatic increase means the rule will only impact very large-scale chicken operations, will and exempt all small- and medium-scale farmers, like those on Maryland's Eastern Shore. 

In their letter, the Senators noted that, "the raising of poultry is a major industry and a key driver of economic growth in our states. … Farmers are concerned that this rule and the subsequent regulations that come with it are unnecessarily burdensome."     

"When I met with Worcester and Somerset County Commissioners this summer, this was a top priority for them and their constituents.  I promised I would get to work when I returned to Washington to make sure their concerns were heard," said Senator Mikulski.  "I will never stop in my fight for the little guy, and for the farmers whose livelihoods depend on the poultry industry."

"I strongly support DHS's decision to allow rural users of propane to store quantities greater than 7,500 pounds without triggering complicated regulatory requirements," said Senator Cardin.  "The original DHS regulations would have placed an unjustified burden on small-scale rural users.  We must secure our nation's chemical facilities, but we must be smart about how we do it.  Subjecting family farms to costly screening requirements would not be a wise use of DHS resources. "

"The chemical security proposal should secure dangerous chemical facilities, not chicken houses in small, rural communities, like those across our Delmarva Peninsula," said Senator Carper. "For months, I have been pressing the Department of Homeland Security to change its propone gas restrictions, and I am pleased with the news today that the department will make sure the chemical security rules apply to dangerous chemical facilities and will not unnecessarily burden chicken farmers in Delaware and nationwide."