The Daily Times and The Baltimore Sun published an article in their May 9th editions reporting criticism by a Washington-based environmental extremist group of a so-called "cozy relationship" between Governor O'Malley and an attorney for our own Perdue, Inc. ("O'Malley ties to Perdue lawyer queried"). To them, I say, "And your problem is what?" From our perspective, we are deeply appreciative that we have a governor who understands from whence our life-blood flows and is willing to step up and fight hard to help us maintain the special place we call home.
Building bridges between state government and our largest employers is part of his job, and reaching out to state government and the many opportunities for support is part of theirs.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Maryland, and I'm proud to say it is a huge industry in Wicomico County. In fact, thanks to the chicken industry, Wicomico County is the No. 1 county in Maryland in terms of value of sales of farm products.
With hundreds of Wicomico County farm families growing chickens, and corn and soybeans fed to the chickens, our county is able to maintain its high quality and desirable way of life. Thousands of other families depend upon the chicken industry for employment with family members directly working for the Delmarva chicken companies or for businesses that supply products or services to the chicken industry. Each job in the chicken processing business on the Delmarva Peninsula is responsible for seven other jobs. That is a significant economic multiplier that cannot easily be replaced; nor should it be. Jobs in the retail sales, banking, health care, automotive products and service, professional occupations, education, and many other areas exist because the chicken industry is here.
Not only is our entire region and state helped by the economics of the chicken industry, but so is our environment. From an environmental perspective, the best land use is well managed farmland. Maryland and Delmarva farmers are among the national leaders in conservation and stewardship. Their efforts over the years are helping to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality. Vocal critics of the chicken industry and our farmers who use the chicken manure, a locally produced organic fertilizer, are quick to use less than truthful statements to slam the environmental practices of our chicken industry. In fact, according to the state of Maryland's 2010 Watershed Implementation Plan, chicken manure is responsible for just 6 percent of all the nitrogen from all the sources from throughout Maryland that reaches the Chesapeake Bay.
Thanks to the built in demand from the chicken companies for local soybeans and corn, our farmers are able to stay in business. That means plenty of free-to-the-public vistas and open spaces. Maintaining working farms is a top priority of our county government and the best farm family and farmland preservation program is profitability. So a strong chicken industry is good in many ways.
Our farm families and the chicken companies work hard to provide safe, nutritious and affordable food for consumers across the nation. These folks are our friends and neighbors. Wicomico County is an important part of this food production system. We need to keep it here because our livelihood and our future depend on it. Governor O'Malley understands this; the Perdue Company understands this and most of us in "The Land of Pleasant Living" understand this. We hope that the relationship between Governor O'Malley, our state government and our poultry industry remains strong for years to come.
Richard M. Pollitt Jr., Salisbury
The writer, a Democrat, is Wicomico county executive.