SEAFORD, DE - U.S. Senator Tom Carper kicked off the opening of the Perdue AgriRecycle Plant this week, celebrating the culmination of hard work and partnerships that began under his leadership as governor. The new plant provides an environmentally sound alternative for surplus poultry litter, converting the waste into an organic starter fertilizer. Its creation is vital in keeping agriculture viable in Delaware, preserving an industry that provides income for thousands of farm families. The opening marks a successful partnership between business, government and the agriculture industry, and shines a national spotlight on Delaware's commitment to finding innovative solutions. Sussex County is the most concentrated poultry growing county in the world, raising 200 million chickens annually. Because Delmarva's poultry industry requires more grain than the region can produce, poultry companies bring in grain from the Midwest to feed their chickens. When the chickens consume that grain, they also consume nutrients that end up in the litter. Runoff from excess nutrients has been linked to water pollution. The Perdue AgriRecycle process recaptures the nutrients, returning nitrogen and phosphorous to nutrient-deficient regions where they are needed to support crop production. The recycled poultry litter, processed into pellets called MicroStart60, will be shipped by rail from Delaware to nutrient- deficient grain farms in the Midwest. "From the very beginning, Delaware played an important role by recognizing and supporting this process as a solution," Carper said. "The leadership from community and industry leaders alike has been inspiring. Perdue's AgriRecycle Plant serves as an example of one of the very best practices in the nation for solutions to sustainable agriculture. I'm very proud of our partnership and look forward to the plant's success." Four poultry companies in Delaware have signed an agreement with Delaware officials outlining their company's voluntary commitment to help independent poultry producers dispose of surplus chicken litter. The plant has contracted with local farm families, regardless of their poultry company affiliation, to clean out their poultry houses and transport the litter at no cost to the farmer. Perdue AgriRecycle is a joint venture between one of the country's largest poultry companies and a Missouri- based company that developed the litter- palletizing technology.