As previously reported by Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of Agriculture recently withdrew proposed emergency regulations that would have required farmers to use a new phosphorus management tool (PMT) when creating or updating their nutrient management plans. The new PMT would have reduced the ability of farmers to apply chicken and other animal manure on their fields, causing concern among both the farm and poultry communities. Instead, the Department agreed to redraft the PMT regulations and a January 2015 phase-in the new requirements.
An October 9 Salisbury Daily Times article reports the concerns raised by Lower Shore farmers at an October 8 public hearing at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. From the article:
Worcester farmer and County Commissioner Virgil Shockley said he believes the changes would have a $120 million impact on the Lower Shore. …
Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance said the department does not know how the proposal will affect farmers until the new tool is run alongside the existing tool.
“Until we have that data, when we run these two tools comparatively for a year, no one is really certain what the economic impact is,” Hance said. …
Many farmers spoke against the proposal, asking why farmers are being asked to do more when other sources of pollution exist.
Hance tried to assure farmers they are not alone in being asked to do more to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The last scheduled public hearing on the proposed PMT regulations will take place on Tuesday, October 15, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at the Talbot County Community Center. The Center’s address is 10028 Ocean Gateway, Easton, MD 21601.