Poultry Farming and Environmental Liability

It’s important for poultry farmers to have environmental and pollution insurance so that they are covered for any legal or environmental responsibilities in relation to their land. Expert farm insurance underwriters, Land Based Underwriters, explore some of the risks of poultry farming that demonstrate why environmental liability insurance is essential.

Waste and Water Pollution

The poultry farming process produces a large volume of waste, including chemical, organic, and packaging waste. Hazardous materials such as pesticides and cleaning products are also used throughout the production cycle. There is a risk of these entering and polluting soil and water resources from: 

  • Direct run-off
  • Insufficient treatment of waste before discharge / spreading on land
  • Infiltration from unlined slurry/waste storage areas
  • Spillages and accidental releases (e.g., of agrochemicals and agricultural fuel oils)
  • Disposal of empty drums and packaging of agrochemicals

Farming operations, where pollution has occurred or there is a threat of it occurring to water resources, land and protected species and habitats, may be liable under national legislation for preventing and remedying environmental damage. The Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) established a framework of environmental liability for this, based on the "polluter-pays" principle. Therefore, farm insurance brokers should ensure that their clients are fully covered by their environmental insurance policy.

Air Pollution

As well as copious amounts of waste, poultry farming produces various pollutants in the air such as dust, which may be emitted during feed storage, loading and unloading, and waste management activities. This contributes to odour and potentially to the transport of diseases and respiratory problems. Odour can also be emitted from storage areas and during land spreading. The impact of this increases with farm size and can cause a nuisance to neighbouring residential properties.

Another risk is having high levels of ammonia gas, which has a sharp and pungent odour. It irritates the eyes and throat and can cause acidification of soils and water. Farmers should be aware of regulations around acceptable ammonia concentration in working environments. Similarly, asbestos regulations should be followed when this is present in farm buildings, as asbestos can cause breathing problems and other health issues.

How Can Businesses Manage the Risks?

Hazardous farm waste and air pollutants can cause serious harm to people’s health and to the environment, so poultry farmers are liable to mitigate the risks. To do this, farming businesses should:

  • Ensure compliance with all relevant guidelines and legislation
  • Reduce water usage and waste, where possible
  • Maintain effective storage facilities for waste
  • Install systems to improve ventilation
  • Adopt odour management measures
  • Measure ammonia levels
  • Establish an asbestos management plan

Contact LBU for Advice

At Land Based Underwriters, we offer environmental impairment liability insurance, covering sudden and gradual pollution, damage to the environment and protected species, and more. Contact LBU today to find out more about our farm liability coverage and get advice on the right environmental insurance for your clients.