Department of Agriculture to Do Economic Analysis on Proposed Phosphorus Regulations

A January 29 article reported that the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced it would be conducting an economic impact analysis on proposed regulations to implement a phosphorus management tool (PMT) for agricultural operations.  The comments were made as the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee was considering legislation (SB 27) by Senator Jim Mathias that would prohibit the MDA from enacting PMT regulations until such an analysis was conducted.

Calls for an economic impact study on the Phosphorus Management Tool received the first of many hearings on Tuesday in Annapolis.

While statements to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee addressed well-known concerns, they also revealed two pieces of new information.  …

The second [piece of information] came when Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said after the department itself is moving forward with an economic impact study. This comes after two years of the ag department putting together, proposing and withdrawing the proposed regulation.

“The administration is committed to do an economic impact study,” Hance said. In meetings last year, Eastern Shore farmers had urged such a study be conducted.

Despite the announcement, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt and representatives of the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. urged Senate Committee members to support the study by passing the bill.  Various environmental organizations, including the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition testified in opposition to the bill.

The House Environmental Matters Committee considered identical legislation (HB 193) by House Appropriations Committee Chair Norman Conway at a bill hearing on January 29.  Other legislators have introduced similar bills.

MACo’s Legislative Committee, which decides on the organization’s bill positions, met for the first time on January 29 (the previous week’s meeting was cancelled due to snow) and decided to support the legislation.

HB 193 MACo Testimony

SB 27 MACo Testimony

Previous Conduit Street Coverage on the Proposed Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations