American Farm Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 2026
Easton, MD 21601
Powell hears concerns on adjustments to NM regs
By SEAN CLOUGHERTY
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The official comment period for proposed changes to Maryland’s nutrient management is scheduled to begin on June 29 after it is published in the Maryland Register, but feedback to the Maryland Department of Agriculture has already begun.
Addressing the Maryland Agriculture Commission at its monthly meeting, Royden Powell, MDA assistant secretary for resource conservation, discussed the changes and how they were developed.
Apart from general concerns of some commission members that the proposed regulations would put Maryland farmers at an economic disadvantage to farmers in neighboring states, issues that were voiced to Powell centered around deadlines for fall nutrient application and manure storage and incorporation after application.
According to the proposed regulations, a fall nutrient application will require a cover crop to be planted behind it and the application must be made by Nov. 15.
In the fall of 2016, the date for Eastern Shore farmers moves up to Nov. 1.
Powell said the dates move towards eliminating all winter applications and the harvest timeline for farmers west of the Chesapeake Bay needs a later date than farmers east of the Bay.
“Within this practice, we’re enjoying a commitment of resources — cost-share dollars — to make these things happen,” Powell said.
Dairy representative, Scott Youse said he and many dairy farmers he’s talked with are concerned they won’t be able to make the deadlines, creating storage issues for manure and forcing them to be penalized for weather that’s out of their control.
“Trying to farm around times, dates and hours, they’re very concerned with that,” Youse said.
Powell pointed to recent instances where MDA made one-time exceptions to rules due to severe weather that would have hampered farmers from staying within the regulations.
“I think the department needs to be prudent in how we do this but we’ve demonstrated our ability and willingness to accommodate for extreme weather events,” he said.
The proposed regulations also require incorporation of organic nutrients 48 hours after application any time of the year.
Exceptions include manure directly deposited by animals, pasture and hay ground, fields containing highly erodible land classified by USDA or where soil conservation plans prohibit or restrict soil disturbance and nutrients applied to a standing crop.
Powell said incorporation is “standard practice now for a lot of people using poultry litter. So I think the transition to that will be fairly manageable.”
Youse and the commission’s other dairy representative, Matt Hoff, said the incorporation requirement along with the deadlines would create a bottleneck for dairy farmers who have manure hauled and injected by a custom applicator.
“If everyone wants to get cleaned out by the end of October, their won’t be enough to go around,” Youse said.
Powell countered that such a situation may create an incentive to new people to get into custom hauling but Hoff said the expense of the equipment doesn’t justify using it for a small part of the year and he knows of at least one custom hauler who has scaled back on hauling and focused on other custom jobs.
Should the proposed regulations be published in the Maryland Register as scheduled on June 29, a 45-day public comment period will begin and last until Aug. 13.
Four public meetings on the proposed regulations have been scheduled but the MDA to get feedback from farmers and other stakeholders.
All the meetings will be from 7 to 9 p.m. and held at the Harford Community College in Bel Air on July 10, the Washington County Agricultural Education Center in Boonsboro on July 18, the Talbot Community Center in Easton on July 23 and the Calvert County Fairgrounds in Prince Frederick on July 25.