The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Maryland Animal Feed Plant Recycles by Polluting

Jan 3, 2022

The Valley Proteins chicken rendering plant in Linkwood on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has poisoned nearby Transquaking River for years, illegally dumping wastewaters loaded with chlorine, ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus. State regulators shut down the plant in late December only after activists filmed toxic waste flowing from pipes. The state had let the plant operate on an expired discharge permit for 15 years and had even considered giving the company a 13 million dollar subsidy last spring.

The plant cooks down scraps and feathers from nearby chicken processing plants into additives for animal feed. In 2013 it was bought—and the longtime union eliminated—by Valley Proteins, which specializes in buying up independent rendering plants. The company now owns over a dozen plants converting three million tons of poultry, beef, and hog scraps, roadkill, and used restaurant cooking oil into one million tons of powder and liquid animal feed additives, which it sells around the world. These rendering operations bring in 50 million dollars profit per year for the private owners, the Smith family.

Rendering animal scraps in a system based on profit means throwing environmental concerns aside, because they cut into profit. And since this Dorchester County factory is only one of hundreds of factories in Maryland operating under outdated or unenforced water pollution permits, this government system is no protection for the environment, just as it didn’t protect the workers, either.