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State’s farm community applauding Hogan’s revamped plan
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 3, 2015) — The Maryland ag industry saw it coming: Phosphorous management in some form was not going to go away even though Gov. Larry Hogan had quickly pulled it from consideration after he took office,’
Hogan didn’t like it in the form it had emerged from the previous administration, particularly its anticipated onerous impact on the farming community on the Lower Shore of Delmarva and he obviously promptly ordered a re-write.
That emerged in what he called his Agricultural Phosphorus Initiative which has drawn applause throughout the farm community.
Chuck Fry, president of the Maryland Farm Bureau, said in a statement, called the new version “a practical program for using phosphorus on farmland that is based on scientific risk analysis. (am offering a) strategy to improve Bay water quality while protecting the economic viability of farm businesses.” We believe that the new administration is committed to creating a balance between farmers and the environment as the Phosphorus Management Tool is phased-in.”
Over the next seven years, Fry said, “phosphorus use on cropland in the medium and low risk categories will be scaled back as the agronomic and economic impacts continue to be evaluated. We believe this is the best plan for our farmers and our Bay.”
The Maryland Grain Producers Association has been working with Hogan and his team to develop a workable solution to improve water quality to make sure that the resources are made available so that the planned schedule to execute the regulations remains viable,” said Allen Davis, a grain and poultry farmer from Galena.
”While primarily seen as an Eastern Shore poultry issue, the scheduled reviews between each phase will ensure that dairy, beef, egg layer, and hog operations across the state, as well as Eastern Shore broiler operations, are equipped with the necessary infrastructure and alternative uses to move the implementation of the PMT on schedule” added, Donnie Tennyson, president of MGPA and a grain farmer from Dameron. “We believe that this new approach is a win-win for the Bay and for the continued viability of Mary;and’s No. 1 industry and the backbone of the Eastern Shore economy”, added Tennyson.
The Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., whose members have been chiefly under the PMT gun, noted that the new initiative will advance state efforts to improve water quality.
“Through the immediate limitations on phosphorus applications on farmland thought to be the highest risk for phosphorus loss, the state will not have to wait years to reach that point. Those changes will go into effect upon implementation of the regulation, ahead of the previously proposed regulation,” DPI said in a statement.
Chicken growers “will move to the head of the line for benefiting from the state of Maryland/chicken companies’ financed manure transport program to move their locally produced organic fertilizer to farms where it can be used”
At the same time, DPO noted. Gov. Hogan’s program “calls for accelerated initiatives to investigate alternative uses of chicken manure and when prudent, support for on-the-ground alternative use facilities/”
The disposition of the poultry litter whch farlera have been using as their principal fertilizer and which is high in phosphorous has been a major concern throughout the PMT debate.
“If in a few years there is not adequate capacity to handle chicken growers’ manure because new alternative use facilities are not operating, there will be a relief valve to help those growers through reconsideration of the regulation phase-in schedule,” a grateful DPI said.