The General Assembly of Maryland is considering the Poultry Fair Share Act, a piece of legislation introduced February 4 that would place a tax of 5 cents per chicken on poultry companies operating in the state. The money raised through the tax would go toward efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

The bill, heavily supported by environmental group Food & Water Watch, is expected to generate about $15 million annually for bay clean-up initiatives.

Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., the trade association for the Delmarva Peninsula's broiler industry, has expressed its strong opposition to the bill, which would have grave consequences to the poultry industry in Maryland.


"This bill has the potential to drive the chicken industry out of Maryland," the group posted on its website. "This bill must be stopped."

Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. points out that the bill overlooks all the good Maryland poultry producers have done for the environment, including:

  • Spending more than $4 million through the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program for on-the-farm environmental programs
  • Spending more than $4.5 million since the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 to move chicken manure to farms or alternative-use facilities that wanted it
  • Planting trees and tall grasses on their farms for air and water quality improvements
  • Examining more than 50 different types of technology to convert manure into something else

The organization also noted that Perdue Farms, which would be hit hard by the proposed tax, voluntarily constructed and operates a plant to convert manure into fertilizer pellets as an alternative to land application for growers. It has invested more than $45 million without any profit to do so.