Economy vs nature on the Eastern Shore


The eastern shore, extending along three states, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, has provided many economic value to the states as well as the country. Because the eastern shore has both the Chesapeake bay and the Atlantic Ocean surround it, it provides a unique environment for different plants and species to thrive in. That being said, this area is knowing for its aquaculture, poultry farms, dairy farms, and agriculture such as wheat, corn, and soy. This area is also known for its growth and expansion of the human population which results in environmental issues. What we have learned about during Journey 4 is the economic benefits to farming for food, as well as the issue of growing populations. This results in small communities being effects by the environment as well as the health of the given area.

Aquaculture along the eastern shore provides many different types of sea foods that is shipped through out the country. Sea food such as rockfish, menhadian, cherry stone clams, and oysters provide a source of income for the population because many watermen believe this area has the best fishing grounds and salt content for growing clams and oysters. This may be because it has tribal waters, which is great for oysters who need fast moving salty waters. There are not many oysters growing in the top of the bay because most of the water up north is provided by the Potomac and Susquehanna river. Oysters and clams need fast moving waters because then sediment does not cover the reefs which allows for more spat to attach and grow new oysters. Although, naturally oysters grow in areas with fast moving waters, watermen have developed a technique during harvesting oysters. Dredging oysters has been a debate on whether or not it destroys oyster beds, or helps them grow faster. The watermen say that dredging helps because then sediment does not build up on the reefs. Some environmentalist believe that dredging destroys the reefs and does not allow the oysters to grow properly. This debate has been an issue for many years not to allow dredging as apposed to tonging. The watermen say that although government does not believe that oysters that have been dredged previously are not market size, watermen are harvesting these oysters at proper sizes this results in a technique the watermen have discovered to increase harvest to meet the demands for oysters in the bay.

Poultry farms along the eastern shore are the leading providers of poultry in the United States. Over one million chickens come to these family farms where they are fed and raised to market size. Although this is a great achievement to the economics and job security, poultry farms are the main cause of excessive phosphorous in the Chesapeake bay. Most of the communities in the bay like to blame the Susquehanna for the health of the bay. What we students had found out during our second journey was that the Susquehanna does not pollute the bay like the reputation it has, it is the farming and fertilizers from tributaries causing the pollution. Poultry provides an excessive amount of phosphorous which is than used as fertilizers for crop fields. The benefits for a poultry farm is they use their own phosphorous to fertilizer their fields which they grow for feed to the chickens. But even spreading over fields is not beneficial because of run offs during heavy rains. Phosphorous gets into the water which than increases algae growth in the bay and kills crabs due to lack of oxygen. But without these farms, we would not have any chicken to eat. This is a huge controversy because we need these farms for our source of food, but they are destroying the bay’s health. Further research needs to be taken in order to improve these facilities and they excess waist. The government needs to make stricter regulations on these farms as well as investing in new technologies so these farms can improve.

Dairy farms are very common a long the eastern shore. We had the chance to compare two different types of farms both of which are family owned. One farm is very industrialized because they have over a thousand cows that are milked 3 times a day. They were more like a factory producing thousands of gallons per day. The other diary farm is small. They only have 75 cows that they milk 2 times a day but these cows graze in the fields as opposed to being fed foods which high nutrients in them. These two types of farms are both practical in there own ways but because the larger farm is more practical,they are cheaper and they make more money. This allows for new equipment such as phosphorous filters. Just like poultry farms, dairy farms produce a lot of phosphorous which they spread out on their fields, but sometimes there is too much. This dairy farm invested in a million dollar peace of equipment that separates phosphorous to reduce pollution. They did this because of new regulations the government had made to Benicia the health of the bay but because it is so expensive, other farms are not doing the same. This is an example of how little farms can struggle in the economy because they do not make nearly as much as high industrialized farms which is why smaller farms are disappearing. It cost too much for little benefits.

Agriculture is also common along the eastern shore. If you were to drive from Delaware to the bay, a majority of the journey will be surrounded by agriculture farms. Either for feed for animals, or corn, wheat, and soy. These crops are assenting for our every day lives because corn is in most of the food we eat. If not directly, but also indirectly. Corn feeds animals that we eat and also corn starch is in more of the foods in the grocery store. It is a cheaper way to make sweet foods than using sugar. This is because of our growing population that scientist had to come up with a way to meet the demands of the foods. If you were to look at the ingredients of most foods in a grocery store, most with contain corn and soy. Although the eastern shore does not produce nearly as much corn soy and wheat as the central states of America, if you were to look at the amount of fields per acre, it does consume most of the acres along the eastern shore. If the land is not used for residential living and housing, it is either farm lands or poultry and dairy farms.

In conclusion, there are many benefits for working on the eastern shore. You will either work on the water or a farm but this is because of all the benefits. Although there are economic benefits along the shore, some environmental issues in the bay regulate these farms as well as oyster bars. If the eastern shore did not exist, there wouldn’t be land for the population to expand to resulting in a crammed “eastern shore” on the west side of Maryland which is mostly forest as opposed to farm lands. The eastern shore provides a lot of food for the growing population which is great for our economy. Without the eastern shore, where else where we grow and raise chickens and cows? Certainly not in Baltimore inner harbor.



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