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O'Malley Promises To Veto Tax On Chicken Growers For Environmental Cleanup

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Gov. Martin O'Malley says no new taxes on Maryland chickens.
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Gov. Martin O'Malley says no new taxes on Maryland chickens.

Poultry farmers on Maryland's Eastern Shore who are vehemently opposed to a bill in Annapolis that would levy a five cent tax on every chicken grown in the state have new reason to be optimistic about the political debate.

Gov. Martin O Malley voiced his support for the poultry industry last night at the annual Taste of Maryland dinner, borrowing part of a famous line from former President George HW Bush as he promised farmers: "Read my lips, if this chicken bill passes, I will veto it."

The chicken bill is officially called the Poultry Fair Share Act. It was pitched by Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr, and Del. Shane Robinson, both Democrats from Montgomery County. The bill's intent is to provide a mechanism for big poultry companies to pay their fair share of the cost to clean up nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Agriculture brings in more than $2 billion a year, making it Maryland's biggest industry, and poultry is the Eastern Shore's driving economic force, so its no surprise that big companies like Perdue and Mountaire say the five cent tax on every single bird they provide to their chicken growers as hatchlings is unfair and goes too far.

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