This Week’s Headlines
Agriculture industry reacts to election
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
(Nov. 11, 2014) “It’s a great day for agriculture,” hailed an early-morning Facebook posting.
“Republicans rule!” applauded another.
It was last Wednesday, the day after a GOP tsunami in which Republicans took control at all levels of government: Federal, state and local. Farmers and the agricultural industry as a whole, burdened by excessive over-regulation emerging from Democratic administrations, allowed themselves a deep breath and expressed hope for the future.
Bill Sylvester, a prominant Eastern Shore farmer, put it this way:
“At least for the next four years, the farming industry will be left alone to do its work. Even though the legislature, driven by some environmentalist idealogues will continue to push its agenda of shutting down modern agriculture, the power of the veto can now be used as the scalpel to separate real science from political science.”
Chip Bowling, another Maryland farmer who is serving as president of the National Corn Growers Association, offered this assessment.
“Washington may look different come January, but fundamentally, things have not really changed. There is no sign that the gridlock of the past few years will diminish.
“Like many Americans,” Bowling continued, “corn farmers are frustrated that their voices go unheard and so little gets done.
“We welcome both new and returning members of Congress back to Washington, and we urge them to set aside partisan politics and meet their obligation to conduct the nation’s business.”
The poultry industry, which dominates the agricultural economy of the Delmarva Peninsula, has been particularly under the gun of the O’Malley administration.
“Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. looks forward to working with Larry Hogan during the transition and once he becomes governor to better acquaint him and his team with chicken industry issues and to identify ways in which the state of Maryland can be more supportive of the chicken industry,” said Bill Satterfield, DPI”s executive director.
Satterfield continued: “Mr. Hogan, prior to the election, showed support for a common sense approach to chicken industry environmental issues by writing, ‘The proposed phosphate regulations will have a potentially crippling impact on many farms, as such it should not be implemented, especially without accurate scientifically verified data and after the Bay Model is updated.
‘As governor, I will not allow faulty, outdated data and seemingly arbitrary soil phosphate levels to force farmers to use cost-prohibitive commercial fertilizers.
‘Simply put, we need to get this right. Farmers have done their share and they deserve a governor who’ll fight for them.’”
“Additionally,” Satterfield concluded, “he is on record opposing a fee for chicken growers for their federally-required Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation permits. Already Mr. Hogan has shown support for our members.”
Kevin Anderson, of Wimberly Farms near Princess Anne, Md., has been a leader in the effort to at least stall the implementation of the PMT.
Of Governor-elect Hogan’s election, he said: “It’s a breath of fresh air to Maryland agriculture to have a seat at the table with new faces and ideas.
“After reading last week’s Delmarva Farmer editorial, do you realize this is my life? I’m living all of those issues every day. Are you aware that Kathy Phillips, Waterkeepers, Food & Water Watch, etc. ... have decided that Somerset County, Md, is the place to pick a fight.”
Michelle Protani-Chesnick,a poultry farmer on the Lower Shore, said she was “overjoyed,” at the election results.
“My first thoughts were that this will be a new day for ag in Maryland and a path to a better Maryland for all of its residents.
“I know agriculture will continue to face many challenges in the coming days, but knowing that the person governing the state will be fair and balanced brings new hope”
Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Earl “Buddy” Hance was in Cuba on a trade mission at this writing and unavailable for comment.
Hans Schmidt, of Schmidt Farms in Sudlersville, Md., serves as president of the Maryland Soybean Boad and president of the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts.
“I would hope that under the new administration here in Maryland that ag policy decisions would be driven by science and not by politics,” Schmidt said.
“The farming community has shown by achieving its 2017 water quality goals in 2014, that farmers are true environmentalists. We take soil health and water quality as seriously as we do producing safe, healthy, and affordable food.
“It is only through science that we will achieve greater productivity for the growing population while minimizing the environmental impact of agriculture’s footprint.
“To be sustainable in family farming,” Schmidt continued, “we need a government which will do more with less, just as anyone in a family business has had to learn to do in the recent economic years.
“A new GOP congress needs to be less partisan and more participatory, opening more doors to economic trade and exports, implementing science-based regulations that are not overreaching, and environmental decisions at the local and state level that suit localities instead of broad sweeping national regulations that are like trying to pound a square peg through a round hole.”