WESTOVER -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday that the poultry industry should add half a cent per pound to the price of chicken to help pay for the costs of controlling pollution.
The proposal received mixed reactions.
The recommendation was made by Hank Zygmunt, an official with EPA's regional office in Philadelphia, during a visit to a poultry farm not far from the first Pfiesteria outbreak last summer on the Pocomoke River.
Zygmunt said the poultry industry has a responsibility to help pay for pollution problems associated with the use of chicken manure as fertilizer on grain fields.
The leaching of nutrients from farms into streams has been linked to many of the problems of the Chesapeake Bay.
Scientists suspect that the nutrients contributed to the Pfiesteria outbreaks that forced the state to close portions of three Eastern Shore waterways last year.
Zygmunt said that the program would not be limited to the Maryland poultry industry, but would be national. He suggested that it be implemented at the processing plant level and the cost would be passed on to consumers.
It would raise about $140 million a year and would be used to address poultry-related environmental issues nationwide.
"I think it's a good idea as long as its national," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a 1st District Republican. He said, however, that he would be opposed to any charge that would make Maryland's poultry industry less competitive with competitors around the country.
The plan was not well received at the National Broiler Council.
"It would be unique," said Richard L. Lobb, a spokesman for the trade association. "No other agriculture product is taxed for environment issues."
Pub Date: 9/04/98