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Poultry in Chesapeake Bay Area: Debate Continues

12 February 2014

MARYLAND, US - The proposed Poultry Fair Share Act - aimed at protecting the environment of the Chesapeake Bay area - has been dropped but the debate between farmers and environmentalists continues.

An environmental advocacy group and a handful of Maryland legislators thought they had Chesapeake Bay protection figured out: a five-cent tax on poultry companies for each chicken grown in Maryland, reports Delmarva Now. The group contends the manure produced by the 300 million chickens grown each year, which contains high amounts of phosphorus, is a significant source of pollution to the bay. The bill was on track to rival the phosphorus management tool as the proposal farmers hated the most.

Last week, that all changed. Speaking to a gathering of farmers and agricultural leaders, Governor Martin O’Malley announced he would veto the bill if it passed. The House bill was dead.

“This is an election year. There is going to be a lot of heated discussion and that’s good. We should have an exchange of ideas, because these issues aren’t easy,” Governor O’Malley said at the Taste of Ag dinner. “Especially when we live as close to the water as we do in this Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

The two events that doomed the poultry tax do not mean environmentalists’ efforts to impose rules and restrictions on Eastern Shore poultry farmers is over. But it does raise questions about the politicians’ stomach to put the screws to what is one of the Salisbury area’s most important industries.

The governor does support implementing the phosphorus management tool, which would change when and how farmers can apply high-phosphorus chicken manure to fields. That particular regulation has been proposed and withdrawn several times and is likely to emerge again this year.

Like the poultry tax, that proposal holds the power, according to numerous farmers, to “devastate” poultry and agriculture farmers in Maryland.

To read the full article in Delmarva Now, click here.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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