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Leaked Letters Suggest Maryland's Governor is Henpecked by the Chicken Industry

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page and our Factory Farming & Food Safety page.

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone seems to get all the attention. Yes, the low-oxygen area that forms every year in the waters surrounding the Mississippi Delta is the largest dead zone - currently around the size of Massachusetts - but it's not the only one in U.S. waters.

The Chesapeake Bay has a dead zone, too. In fact, it covered a third of the Chesapeake last year and continues to grow. And last month, the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science gave the Bay a D+ in its annual "health report card."

About a year and a half ago, in response to the crisis, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in to put the states that surround the Chesapeake on a "pollution diet," meaning the state has to keep its "Total Maximum Daily Load" - whether from agricultural, municipal, or private landowners - down to a minimum.

And where the Gulf dead zone is caused by runoff from the oceans of corn grown in the Midwestern states whose waterways drain into the Mississippi, chicken farms dominate the Chesapeake's watershed. The Delmarva region (i.e. Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) has become one of the most intensive poultry farming regions of the country. Industry behemoths Perdue and Tyson contract with operations in the area that add up to tens of millions of birds housed in enormous facilities that generate a lot of chicken crap.

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