Ag Department Opposes “Alternative” Phosphorus Study

A February 5 article recounted the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA’s) opposition to a bill (HB 284) that would require MDA to conduct a study on efforts to manage and reduce phosphorus from agricultural sources in the State, including an economic impact analysis estimating the costs and economic benefits of MDA’s proposed phosphorus management tool (PMT).  At the Environmental Matters Committee’s February 5 bill hearing for HB 248, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance argued that the bill had a much broader effect than previously considered bills requiring an economic impact analysis on the PMT which MDA had not opposed.  From the article:

The bill sponsored by mid-Shore Delegate Addie Eckardt is “vastly different” from the others and would cause some issues for the department, Hance said Wednesday.

“House Bill 284 asks for the agency to do a much more comprehensive review,” Hance said.

The bill’s proponents argued the merits of the bill at the Committee’s bill hearing:

“Where this bill differs from the ones heard last week is it calls for an analysis of phosphorus reduction efforts of the farming community,” said Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. …

Executive Director of the Maryland Grain Producer’s Association Lynne Hoot said the committee could attach an analysis of how changing from the phosphorus site index to the phosphorus management tool would improve water quality.

If the agriculture community believes there are environmental advantages to passing the PMT, it might receive more support, Hoot said.

SB 963 is the Senate cross-file for HB 284 and does not yet have a scheduled hearing.

Previous Conduit Street Coverage of the PMT and Related Legislation