Marylanders Want Stronger Government Oversight to Protect Environment and Health

Recent public opinion poll shows voters’ positions on critical food and climate issues ahead of gubernatorial election

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Today, Friends of the Earth (Action), Inc. and Food & Water Action hosted a media briefing on recent poll results from Maryland residents on their stances on food, climate, and health policy. The poll was commissioned by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future as part of their Food Citizen Project and administered by GQR, a public opinion research firm. 

“Climate change, environmental protection, and public health are crucial issues for Maryland voters going into next week’s primary election,” said Chloë Waterman, senior program manager for Friends of the Earth Action. “For decades, Maryland’s leadership has allowed powerful corporate industrial agriculture interests to pollute our environment and jeopardize the health of frontline communities and farmworkers. Marylanders want a governor who will reverse that legacy and fight for a healthy, just and sustainable food system.” 

Focused on policies related to oversight of Maryland’s poultry industry, food procurement, and pesticides, the poll follows a Maryland Food and Climate Voter Guide that the organizations released in May to help voters determine where gubernatorial candidates stand on these issues ahead of the July 19 primary election. 

“Impacted community members and advocates have been sounding the alarm for years — poultry corporations are profiting at the expense of contract growers, communities, and the environment,” said Lily Hawkins, Maryland Organizer at Food & Water Action. “This poll clearly shows that Marylanders overwhelmingly support increased oversight and regulation of the poultry industry. Gubernatorial candidates and legislators need to listen up and stop putting the interests of powerful poultry corporations ahead of the will of voters!” 

Key findings from the poll and voter guide include: 

  • Poultry Industry Oversight: The overwhelming majority of Maryland residents (89% of respondents) want greater enforcement and monitoring of the Clean Water Act on factory farms. The poll also found almost 80% of respondents were in favor of tougher environmental standards, even on smaller Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)—industrial-sized livestock operations—and 59% support a statewide limit on the construction of new and expanded industrial chicken farm production facilities.  


While legislation in Annapolis to require big poultry companies like Perdue to share liability for poultry waste with farmers has repeatedly failed, 78% of respondents (including 80% of Republicans) support such a policy, as do all the gubernatorial candidates included in the Voter Guide. Nearly half (45%) of poll respondents said that they would view a gubernatorial candidate more favorably if the candidate supports increasing oversight of the poultry industry.  

  • Food Procurement: 62% of respondents supported shifting Maryland’s food procurement towards lower-carbon, plant-based foods. In 2019, Governor Hogan’s administration shut down an effort initiated by the General Assembly to track emissions associated with Maryland’s food purchasing; however, all Democratic candidates that responded to the Voter Guide survey expressed support for a climate-friendly food procurement policy in the next administration. 
  • Pesticides: Respondents showed overwhelming support for pesticide policies: 85%   favor greater testing for PFAS (“forever chemicals”) and 74% support greater oversight of pesticides from state agencies. 

“The incoming Maryland governor will have to make critical decisions about the state’s future,” added Waterman. “We urge voters to consider candidates’ positions on food and climate issues when they cast their votes and to hold our next governor accountable to these food and farm policies that are clearly supported overwhelmingly by Marylanders.  

To view a summary of the poll results, visit 


About Friends of the Earth Action 

Friends of the Earth Action strives for a more healthy and just world. We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature. Learn more at 

About Food & Water Action 

Food & Water Action mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate issues facing our world today. Learn more at 

Communications contact: Brittany Miller,