Neighbors balk at farms’ odors
RISING SUN, Md. — Local residents are complaining about odor from two Cecil County farms wafting across town recently.
Residents held a town meeting Dec. 1 with local and state officials to discuss the complaints, which have been directed at a nearby mushroom operation and dairy farm.
“They have a right to say what they think, and we’re trying to work through it,” said Al Miller, a county councilman and farmer.
Although the town didn’t organize the meeting, it informed frustrated audience members that the Maryland Department of the Environment is working with West Coast Mushrooms to address the occasional odors. The company produces more than 1 million pounds of mushrooms each week sold to distributors along the East Coast and in several Gulf states.
Maryland Department of Agriculture representatives also attended the meeting at the American Legion on East Main Street. They reassured residents that additional odors originating at Kilby Farm Inc. in nearby Colora should no longer be an issue. The state prohibits fertilizer application between Dec. 15 and March 1. The farm processes liquid manure through an anerobic digester whose product is odorless, but it mixes its fertilizer with food biosolids known as DAF.
“DAF, or raw food waste, these are the stinky materials,” said Hans Schmidt, assistant secretary of resource conservation at the agriculture department, according to a Dec. 8 report in The Cecil Whig newspaper.
New state laws, however, will require the farm to inject DAF into soil instead of applying on top of the field, which state officials said should mitigate the odor.
“Both of these operations are working within the law,” said Chris Brown, district manager of the Cecil Soil Conservation District, who also attended the meeting. “I think MDA was hopeful that the issue is going to resolve itself.”
A number of residents have said that Nov. 6 was a particularly smelly day in Rising Sun after odor from low-lying sludge at the bottom of Kilby Farm’s lagoon collided with the weather.
“The rain set in on a Sunday morning, the wind came out of the south, and it took it right into the town of Rising Sun,” Miller said. “It’s nothing illegal, but it was very smelly.”
He reiterated that Cecil County is a farm-friendly jurisdiction with its own right-to-farm laws in addition to the state’s.
Kilby owner Ben Flahart could not be reached for comment, but in a Nov. 8 report, he told the Whig he was exasperated with the complaints.
“I love farming but I’m ready to just sell everything,” he said.
He said animal rights activists frequently report his petting zoo to authorities.
“One week it’s, ‘Your pigs are too fat’, and the next week it’s, ‘Your pigs are too skinny’,” he said. “We have two veterinarians that inspect our animals every month.”