Maryland Farm Bureau plays watchdog for state’s ag industry

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (April 21, 2015) — The Government Relations Team of the Maryland Farm Bureau is the farm organization’s watchdog in the state capital.
With Colby Ferguson as director and Matt Teffeau as assistant director, it is the team’s responsibility to “make sure government officials at all levels understand the impact that new laws and regulations can have on your farming operation.”
“Without solid and constant representation during the Maryland legislative session, many bills that would negatively affect agriculture would slip by without being noticed,” the Farm Burerau said in a statement.
Here’s a summary of the bills and regulations MFB opposed that were defeated during the 2015 Legislative Session:
• Opposed HB 928: The Repeal of Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Agricultural Products and Equipment: This bill’s $212 million sales tax increase would have most definitely moved the vast majority of Maryland’s $3.57 billion in gross sales of ag products and services to neighboring states. Defeated in Committee
• Opposed SB 463 (HB 706): Ban on the Use of Antimicrobial Drugs in Cattle, Swine, and Poultry Feed. Defeated in Committee
• Opposed SB 470 (HB1075): Ban on the Use of Antibiotic Drugs in Feed for Food-Producing Animals. Defeated in Committee
• Opposed SB 533 (HB 886): Bay Tax Equity Act (a.k.a. “Chicken Tax”). Defeated in Committee
• Opposed SB 257 (HB 381): Gov. O’Malley’s Phosphorus Management Tool Mandated in law. Defeated in Committee; prevented from being mandated in law and maintained as a Maryland Department of Agriculture regulation.
• Opposed SB 532 (HB 1019): Farmers’ Rights Act: Infringement on the volunteer contracts between the poultry integrators and the producers. Defeated in Committee
• Opposed making nutrient management plans available to the public through SB 695 (HB 755): Public Information Act-Enforcement, Fees, and Exemptions. Amended to remove nutrient management plans from the list of public documents.
• Opposed SB 163 (HB 605): Require labeling of plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and remove these pesticides from being purchased without a restricted pesticide license. Defeated in Committee
Bills and regulations Maryland Farn Bureau supported that were passed during the 2015 Legislative Session included:
• Supported SB 122 (HB 540): Expansion of the Farmstead Cheese Program. Passed both chambers and will be signed into Law.
• Supported SB 88 (HB 170): Changing Maryland law to conform to federal law, which states that a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is a baited area in order to be charged with baiting. Passed both chambers and will be signed into law.
• Supported SB 844: Allowing the use of rifles in Southern Frederick County to harvest deer under a deer management permit. The rifle use is only from Oct. 1 through March 31. Passed both chambers and will be signed into Law.
• Supported HB 286: Authorizes the State Highway Administration to issue a permit for an outdoor sign along or near a scenic byway in Calvert and St. Mary’s counties if the sign is directional for a facility that sells principally local agriculture or aquaculture products and is within a five-mile radius of the sign. Passed both chambers and will be signed into Law.
• Supported HB 803: Authorizes a person to plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell or buy industrial hemp in the State. The law doesn’t go into effect until federal law allows the production of hemp in the U.S. Passed both chambers and will be signed into law.
• Supported HB 812: Authorizes a local jurisdiction to permit a person to cross a local highway on an all-terrain vehicle at a right angle for the purpose of accessing a farm or moving from one part of a farm to another part of the same farm. Passed both chambers and is scheduled to be signed into law.