USDA Supports Rural Communities During COVID-19 Outbreak

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is stepping in to help rural communities suffering from financial hardships due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Actions include a moratorium on evictions for residents that have received a home loan through USDA, waving many different program requirements, and extending certain deadlines. From the press release: USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19…

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2020 End of Session Wrap-Up: Environment

This post summarizes the status of various environmental bills that MACo took a position on during the 2020 Regular Session. MACo seeks practical solutions to environmental issues that do not impose unreasonable mandates or costs on county governments. This year, for the first time in since the Civil War, the General Assembly closed session early on March 18, due to precautionary social distancing measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. Consequently, many bills did…

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Counties Support Greater Ability to Control Invasive Bamboo

MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified to February 11, 2020 to support SB 491 - Regulation of Invasive Plants - Bamboo - Prohibitions. This bill would would allow both counties and the Department of Agriculture to take stronger action to curb problematic bamboo growth and prohibit individuals from allowing bamboo to grow without proper upkeep and maintenance to prevent overgrowth onto a public right-of-way. Bamboo is a perennial grass that is notoriously hard to control…

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Harford County Eyes Spring Opening for Agricultural Incubator

Harford County is in the process of constructing an agricultural business incubator to promote local agriculture. The project has recently been allotted $400,000 through a line item in the Governor's budget.  County Executive Barry Glassman is hopeful that the business incubator called "The Grove" will be up and running before June. Once completed, The Grove will provide 16 agricultural businesses in Harford County a low-cost place to sell their products. The project was inspired by…

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Frederick To Pursue Ag Preservation Acceleration Initiative

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner announced a major initiative to protect prime agricultural lands - in pursuit of 100,000 acres preserved. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner today announced an initiative to accelerate agriculture preservation efforts. She proposed legislation that would increase the county’s investment to save valuable farmland in an effort to achieve the longstanding goal of preserving 100,000 acres of agricultural land. Preserving large blocks of land is key to ensuring the long-term economic…

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Sue the EPA

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced Monday its intention to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. Both Maryland and Virginia have already signaled interest in suing the EPA, with Maryland also targeting Pennsylvania for lagging behind in reaching their Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals. The Foundation previously sued the EPA in 2009 alleging that the Agency was failing to enforce the Clean Water Act in the…

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MACo Supports Model Definition for Alcohol Producers

On Thursday, January 16, MACo policy associate Alex Butler testified before the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee in support of SB 118 Land Use - Alcohol Production and Agricultural Alcohol Production. This bill, initiated by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, would create a model definition of alcohol production and agricultural alcohol production for use in land use codes. The bill does not require adoption of the definition by counties, but instead serves as a…

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Rural Maryland Council Funds $6 Million in Grants

The Rural Maryland Council (RMC) recently hosted their day-long Summit, titled Rural Maryland Rising: Investing in Resiliency, Collaboration, and Innovation. The focus of this year's Summit was creating sustainable change. Leaders from across the state presented examples of their communities solutions to complex issues in agriculture, aquaculture and forestry, healthcare, community and economic development. The summit included breakout sessions, a preview of the 2020 General Assembly Session and a luncheon panel with Maryland cabinet secretaries…

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EPA Issues Review of State Watershed Cleanup Plans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released its comprehensive evaluations of state plans for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, according to a press release. The report notes strengths in Maryland's plan including the engagement of local agricultural partners, thorough verification of best management practices (BMP), and locally-driven strategies that can be effective at achieving several goals at once. Maryland’s plan meets its numeric planning targets for nitrogen and phosphorus at the state and statebasin…

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No Extension for Phosphorus Management Deadline

The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Phosphorus Management Tool Advisory Committee has decided not to grant a one year extension to the deadline for compliance with restrictions on the use of poultry litter on fields. The deadline remains July 1, 2022.  Adopted in 2015, the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) requires Maryland farmers with fields that have high levels of phosphorus to limit the spreading of certain fertilizers, poultry and other types of animal manure, and sewage…

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