BMPs Inc. is a non-profit setup by the poultry companies in northwest Arkansas in 2004. The non-profit was established to manage EPA 319 grants in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The intent of the grants was to assist in the development of markets outside the nutrient-enriched watersheds by partially subsidizing litter transport costs. In 2005, nutrient management restrictions in the watersheds were not sufficient to require that poultry producers export their litter, so little incentive existed to create the momentum for exporting. As a result, BMPs began a mass marketing campaign to crop farmers and poultry producers to create interest in the program. We used the grant funds to get local truckers engaged and to entice producers to participate. The poultry companies (Tyson, Simmons, Cargill and George's) provided the matching funds for the grants. We exhausted the grant funds in 2008, at which time the poultry companies decided to continue the subsidies to maintain the momentum. We currently have over 400 buyers in our system and we export approximately 150,000 tons of litter annually from two watersheds along the state line of Arkansas and Oklahoma. We haul in belted-floor semi trailers that can legally haul approximately 23 tons (depending on the weight of the truck).
Why the program works:
1. Everyone works together to make it successful: poultry companies, cooperative extension in both states, NRCS, local trucking companies, poultry producers
2. We have sufficient crop land within 150 miles of the poultry farms
2. We pay the producer fair market price for the litter which enables them to cover the cost of re-bedding their houses
3. We analyze the litter for each farm to make sure it's of sufficient quality for our buyer's needs
4. One person manages the entire process in the beginning, including marketing, scheduling clean-outs, dispatching trucks, billing, etc. Once momentum is established, the individual trucking companies can take over. It took us 5 years to get that momentum.