Environmental Injustice and Industrial Chicken Farming in Maryland

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Hall, J.; Galarraga, J.; Berman, I.; Edwards, C.; Khanjar, N.; Kavi, L.; Murray, R.; Burwell-Naney, K.; Jiang, C.; Wilson, S. Environmental Injustice and Industrial Chicken Farming in Maryland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11039.


Maryland’s growing chicken industry, including concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and meat processing plants, raises a number of concerns regarding public health and environmental justice. Using hot spot analysis, we analyzed the totality of Maryland’s CAFOs and meat processing plants and those restricted to the Eastern Shore to assess whether communities of color and/or low socioeconomic status communities disproportionately hosted these types of facilities at the census tract level. We used zero-inflated regression modeling to determine the strength of the associations between environmental justice variables and the location of CAFOs and meatpacking facilities at the State level and on the Eastern Shore. Hot spot analyses demonstrated that CAFO hot spots on the Eastern Shore were located in counties with some of the lowest wealth in the State, including the lowest ranking county—Somerset. Zero-inflated regression models demonstrated that increases in median household income across the state were associated with a 0.04-unit reduction in CAFOs. For every unit increase in the percentage of people of color (POC), there was a 0.02-unit increase in meat processing facilities across the state. The distribution of CAFOs and meat processing plants across Maryland may contribute to poor health outcomes in areas affected by such production, and contribute to health disparities and health inequity.