From the office of Sen. Barry Glassman:
Northern Harford County Senator Barry Glassman is reporting today that the Maryland Department of Agriculture has indicated that it will be pulling its recently proposed Nutrient Management Regulations which would have had a devastating impact on Maryland agriculture.
The new Nutrient Management Regulations would have proposed several major changes to current law which would include the stream fencing of all agricultural streams with twelve foot buffers on each side, and would have prohibited any winter spreading of fertilizer during certain periods of the year. The regulations would have forced farmers and Maryland counties to build liquid manure storage facilities as to hold their winter manure until such time that the MDA would have allowed spreading. Most agricultural experts agree that these new nutrient management regulations would have caused Maryland livestock operations to be put out of business. Others argued that the stream fencing guidelines would have constituted a taking of the farmers’ agricultural land on each side of the stream, which is prohibited by federal law.
The MDA has indicated that it will meet with all stakeholders within the next two months to attempt to forge some consensus on these new regulations. It should be noted that recently the Maryland environmental community criticized the regulations also as being too weak as they relate to the national goals of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Senator Glassman said that he appreciates the Department of Agriculture pulling these onerous regulations, but he is concerned that the redrafting along with the Maryland environmental community’s concerns could produce even more rigorous standards down the road.
Senator Glassman is working with others to draft legislation which would freeze future regulatory efforts until states north of Maryland begin to make progress towards Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals. Currently Maryland farmers are making fifty percent progress towards their Chesapeake Bay goals with regard to nitrogen removal areas. States such as Pennsylvania are five to ten years behind Maryland in their efforts to make progress towards the Chesapeake Bay goals. The Susquehanna River, which travels to travels from Pennsylvania to Maryland, provides as much as seventy-five percent of the fresh water into the Chesapeake Bay. Senator Glassman feels that Maryland farmers are carrying a large load of the cleanup efforts while northern states continue to send nitrogen and sediment down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake Bay.
Senator Glassman hopes to introduce this legislation in the upcoming 2012 Legislative Session. For now, he feels that Maryland farmers will get some reprieve until such time that these regulations are redrafted.