Mountaire Farms’ plans to expand the acreage of land it spray-irrigates with reclaimed wastewater from its poultry processing plant in Millsboro, Delaware, have been put on hold.

The Sussex County Council recently met to consider Mountaire Farms’ request for a conditional use permit, according to a report from Delaware State News. An earlier hearing on the matter was held, which was met with some opposition. The company’s plans were earlier heard by the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission, which by a 4-1 vote recommended the plans to the county council.

Presently, the company irrigates about 920 acres of nearby farm land, but it recently presented a plan to expand the amount of land it irrigates by about 350 acres, Under a permit with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), Mountaire Farms is allowed to irrigate 2.6 million gallons of wastewater daily, and it currently irrigates 13 farm fields.

Mountaire Farms is not increasing production at the poultry plant, but the request for a permit to expand the amount of land it irrigates is being made to allow for better load and nutrient managements.


During the county council’s meeting, Mike Tirrell, Mountaire Farms, executive vice president processing operations, and Tanya Rogers-Vickers, director of environmental compliance representing Mountaire, discussed the company’s plans. However, no representative from DNREC was present.

Councilman John Rieley questioned if the plans should be approved without input from DNREC, which also did not send a representative to the earlier hearing.

With council action on the permit request deferred, the council’s questions to DNREC, other agencies and/or county staff must be submitted by November 12 at 4:30 p.m. Agencies and staff have until December 9 at 4:30 p.m. to respond. Those responses will be provided next county council meeting, which has been scheduled for December 10.