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.Shockingly, the various anti-ag interest groups around the Bay were not impressed.
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.”
. . .Conversely, you can think of those 300 million chickens as, potentially, the proposed $15 million in funds conservationists are asking for in legislation to keep pollution out of the Chesapeake Bay. Which, in a way, is a chickenshit figure too, as much of the waste generated by the poultry industry is used liberally as a fertilizer on Maryland farms. It’s a practice that, thanks to runoff, has led to damagingly high levels of phosphorus and other nutrients running through the state’s waterways and into the bay. Agricultural pollution in the Chesapeake is a major contributor to the algae blooms and subsequent dead zones that threaten the native fish and shellfish stocks, including those famed Maryland crabs.So the next time you have chicken for lunch or dinner, put a nickel in a jar, and send it to the State of Maryland at the end of the year.