Jim Perdue, chairman of the Salisbury based chicken business that bears his family's name, says chickens aren't the biggest problem facing the Chesapeake Bay.

And oysters are the solution.

Only 8 percent of the water that flows into the bay washes over Eastern Shore land where farmers spread chicken manure as fertilizer, he said.

So while agriculture is blamed as the biggest detriment to the estuary's health, that responsibility is overstated, he told the Baltimore Sun's editorial board in a meeting Tuesday.

The focus of addressing bay pollution should be on rebuilding the oyster population, the Perdue Farms chairman said. Perdue was named chairman of the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a nonprofit focused on helping the bivalves multiply in the bay, this spring.

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