Residents asking for smelly ‘fertilizer alternative’ regulations

Carlisle/West Shore

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A stink is spreading through Cumberland County and local leaders say it’s a fertilizer alternative used by an increasing number of farmers.

Neighbors are fed up, but farmers say it’s a cheap, environmental-friendly option.

“The FPRs are being spread more and more,” Dickinson Township manager Larry Barrick said.

“At the last supervisor meeting, we had a full house of residents here to voice their concerns,” Monroe Township supervisor Carl Kuh said.

FPRs are food processing residuals, and some Cumberland County residents say the fertilizer alternative stinks.

“It is an awful smell,” Barrick said. “It’s almost like a dead animal smell. They dilute it with cow manure and it’s pretty bad when you have to dilute something with cow manure.”

“From people that have been around the regular manure, they say this is much more potent, much more difficult, almost asthma-causing,” Kuhl said.

The decline of the dairy industry means less manure, leading farmers to chose cost-effective FPRs.

“You don’t have the mass production of manure because you don’t have the cows that you’re used to, so this is a cheap product to get,” Barrick said. “It offsets their costs for fertilizer.”

Some farmers in Monroe Township are stopping the use of FPRs altogether in an effort to be good neighbors.

In Dickinson Township, some farmers are still using the substance but are working on different ways of applying it so it doesn’t smell as bad.

“We’re really trying to encourage them to transition to the injection process instead of the ground apply,” Barrick said.

The state says a plus to using FPRs is farmers turning something typically thrown away into a viable commodity.

The Department of Environmental Protection sent us a statement, saying in part, “the objective of using FPRs is to replace conventional soil supplements by recycling the product back through the soil into a new crop.”

“There’s different products that are used,” Barrick said. “Some of it’s milk byproduct, some of it’s chicken rendering plant.”

The state gives guidelines on FPRs, but as long as no pollution is being caused, you’re not required to have a permit.

“Down in York County, the people have tried to take this to court,” Barrick said. “Also, Lower Frankford has had a lot of trouble with it.”

Dickinson Township is working directly with the state and farmers on compromises. Monroe Township is too but is urging for a legislative change and regulations.

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