Five Cent Per Chicken Tax Proposed in Annapolis - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Five Cent Per Chicken Tax Proposed in Annapolis

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SNOW HILL, Md.- Legislation proposed in Annapolis Tuesday is sending shockwaves through the poultry industry.

Montgomery County Democrat Del. Shane Robinson introduced the proposed Poultry Fair Share Act, which would add a 5 cent per chicken tax to big poultry companies to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Opponents to the proposal say the tax could destroy the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore.

County Commissioner and farmer Virgil Shockley said the more than 12 million chickens in Worcester County each day would quickly add up when it comes to the proposed tax.

"In Worcester County every 10 weeks you're looking at $625,000 that will be paid into this fund," he said. "$3.1 million, $3.2 million a year in Worcester County."

That big money is what environmental groups and some legislators say is needed to help clean up the bay. The group, Food And Water Watch, claims poultry contributes more than a billion pounds of waste into the watershed each year.

But Shockley said the poultry industry isn't what is polluting the bay.

"NASA took the greatest picture ever presented, the day 24 hours after Hurricane Sandy came through, if you look at that picture you can see where the sediment is coming from and it's not coming from the Eastern Shore, it's coming from Pennsylvania," he said.

Shockley always worries that if the tax comes the poultry companies will leave Maryland for neighboring states like Delaware and Virginia.

Delmarva Poultry Industry Incorporated has come out against the proposed bill and tells WBOC unfairly singling out one industry for a tax is flawed policy.

In a release, poultry giant Perdue told WBOC, ""We have confidence that the leadership in Annapolis will recognize that this is an unfair tax on one industry. From Perdue's perspective, we've done our fair share and then some."

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