A December 3 WEAA-FM radio segment on the Marc Steiner show brings Food and Water Watch’s Food and Water Justice Project Co-Director Scott Edwards and Eastern Shore Delegate Michael McDermott together to debate proposed legislation that create a new fee structure on the poultry industry. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Food and Water Watch is proposing legislation targeting water pollution issues caused by the poultry industry. Under the “Poultry Fair Share Act,” large poultry companies would have to pay a fee for each chicken raised on a contract farm. Revenue generated from the fee would go towards Chesapeake Bay water pollution mitigation. The discussion starts at the very beginning of the audio segment.
Mr. Edwards argues that the poultry industry is not paying its fair share of costs for the water pollution it generates and the Act would allow for septic system money in the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund to actually go towards repairing and upgrading septic systems rather than go towards cover crops or other agricultural purposes. He states that agriculture throughout the country is one of the least regulated industries and that the poultry business receives various “corporate welfare” benefits from the State.
Delegate McDermott argues that the poultry industry and agriculture in general has been subject to many recent environmental mandates and cannot absorb another tax or fee. He also stresses the importance of agriculture to the Eastern Shore and its current efforts to reduce water pollution.