A March 12 DelmarvaNow.com article reported that Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance predicted that an economic impact analysis for proposed phosphorus regulations to create a new Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) for agricultural lands will be completed by July. According the Hance, the analysis would then be peer-reviewed and published in August
The two-part study will look at the impact on individual farmers as well as agriculture on a regional scale.
A place where farmers can type in details about their farms and learn how the Phosphorus Management Tool would change manure application is also expected to come out of the project. …
The four-month examination of the regulations will also list the benefits and drawbacks of changing when and how farmers with high-phosphorus soil tests can apply high-phosphorus chicken manure. …
A budget amendment added by the Senate that would prevent the agriculture department from implementing the new regulation unless an economic impact study was complete, probably won’t have any impact on the regulations moving forward, Hance said on Wednesday.
A March 10 Baltmore Sun article reported on the addition of the budget language by the Senate:
Key senators have put language in the state budget bill that would stall Maryland’s efforts to limit one of the Chesapeake Bay’s main pollutants, phosphorus.
The amendment by the Budget & Taxation Committee would prohibit the state from issuing new regulations on phosphorus, pending the results of an economic impact study. And when that is done, the committee would have 45 days for review and to recommend further action.
Sen. James N. Mathias Jr., an Eastern Shore Democrat who sought the budget restriction, says he wants to shield the state’s farmers and the poultry industry from potentially very costly and disruptive regulations.
Issuing new rules “doesn’t have to be done overnight,” said Mathias, noting that the bay restoration effort is due for a complete review in 2017. “So we have time to look at this very thoroughly and very closely to make sure that we know exactly what we’re doing, what it’s going to cost to do it, where the monies are going to come from.”
Environmentalists say further delay of the rules — which were first pledged in 2011 — would be a setback in Maryland’s effort to reduce the dead zones that are the result of nutrient pollution of the bay.