Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations Agreement Finalized, No Legislation Moving

As previously reported on Conduit Street, legislation that would have codified phosphorus management tool (PMT) regulations proposed by former Governor Martin O’Malley to change when phosphorus can be applied to agricultural lands was put on pause pending a potential agreement with current Governor Larry Hogan on modifying PMT regulations that he introduced in response to the legislation.  A March 26 DelmarvaNow article reported that the Senate version of the legislation has now been referred back to committee – effectively sealing the compromise agreement. From the article:

Legislation restricting phosphorus use on Eastern Shore farms may be on its dying breath after a Senate bill was referred back to committee Wednesday — clearing the way for the larger compromise.

After Gov. Larry Hogan and Assembly Democrats announced the sides had reached an agreement last week on a new version of Hogan’s regulations, Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-22-Prince George’s, referred his bill back to the Health, Education and Environmental Affairs committee Wednesday. …

While the bill’s referral back to committee doesn’t completely kill the chance of it coming back to a Senate vote, Dawn Stolzfus with the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition said she had only heard of “rare occasions” where that was the case.

From a March 21 Star Democrat article:

According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, two changes were made to the regulations proposed by Hogan on Feb. 23, which now are set for publication in the Maryland Register on April 3. …

Hogan, Democratic lawmakers, and agriculture and environmental groups agreed on a final implementation date of 2022, which can be extended to 2024 if there is not adequate capacity to handle extra chicken manure.

The newest version of the PMT also creates an expert advisory committee to evaluate the infrastructure and capacity available to manage additional manure as farmers transition to the PMT, according to MDA.

The committee is allowed to make recommendations to the secretary of agriculture should it feel an extension of PMT implementation is necessary.

The agreed-upon PMT now includes two one-year delays for PMT implementation, providing farmers with what Delmarva Poultry Industry Executive Director Bill Satterfield called a “release valve” if there is not adequate capacity for alternative manure uses.