Satterfield outlines session’s effect on poultry industry

Senior Editor

(April 21, 2015) The poultry industry on Delmarva, the foundation of the peninsula’s economy, has survived a vicious attack in the Maryland legislature and the 1,800 members of DPI, the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. can take a sigh of relief.
But they cannot rest of their laurels. Out there, ready to kick in, are regulations, which although revised, will limit — and in many cases prohibit — the use of any phosphorous-laden poultry manure on thousands of acres of Delmarva farmland.
Questions the new PMT — that’s Phosphorous Management Tool — legislation does not answer include how many acres will be removed from phosphorous nourishment, what are farmers going to do with their litter, how’s it going to get where it’s going and how much is it going to cost?
Putting all of that aside for the moment, “the chicken industry did well in the Maryland General Assembly session, despite early misgivings about how things would go.”
That’s the assessment of Bill Satterfield, DPI executive director, the day after the General Assembly adjourned its 2015 session.
“A number of troubling bills were introduced and fortunately, none of them were passed,” Satterfield said, “Thanks to the work of a lot of our members. We spent a lot of time getting to know new members of the General Assembly and to reach out, along with our members, to legislators on committees dealing with bills of concern to us.”
Satterfield provided a recap of the bills he called of “greatest importance” to the industry:
• SB 257/HB 381: Would have required by statute a Phosphorus Management Tool to guide land application of manure and fertilizer on soils with high phosphorus levels.
DPI supported a compromise regulation that was developed by the Hogan administration and published April 3 in the Maryland Register. SB 257 was recommitted to committee. HB 381 was withdrawn by the sponsor.
• SB 532/HB 1019: Sought to create a state program similar to the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to provide state contract protections for chicken growers. These bills went further than the USDA rule by giving the power to the Maryland attorney general to review and deny, without judicial challenges, proposed contracts, thus giving one person control over the entire chicken industry.
DPI opposed. Senate Bill 532 died in committee. House Bill 1019 was withdrawn by the sponsor.
• SB 533/HB: The ‘chicken tax bill” would have required chicken companies to pay 5 cents per bird to the state of Maryland for every chicken placed in Maryland chicken houses.
DPI opposed. Senate Bill 533 remains in committee. House Bill 886 was withdrawn by the sponsor.
• SB 470/HB 1075: These bills would have prohibited persons from administering an antibiotic drug to a food-producing animal in the absence of any clinical sign of disease and without a prescription from a licensed veterinarian.
DPI argued that these issues already are being addressed at the federal level by the Food and Drug Administration.
DPI opposed these bills. Both versions were withdrawn by the sponsors.
• SB 463/HB 701: Sought state control over the use of antimicrobials in farm animals. DPI argued that these issues already are being addressed at the federal level by the Food and Drug Administration.
DPI opposed these bills. The Senate bill was debated on the Senate floor and then re-directed to committee. The House version remains in committee.
• HB 928: Sought a repeal to the state’s sales tax exemption for certain agricultural products and supplies.
DPI opposed. Bill remains in committee.
• HB 536/SB 345 :Provide a state tax subtraction modification for the purchase of manure hauling/handling equipment and for purchase of commercial fertilizer equipment if a farmer previously used manure as a fertilizer. These bills were designed to help farmers adapt to the phosphorus management tool requirements.
DPI supported these bills. HB 536 remains in committee. SB 345 passed the Senate and went to the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee.
• HB 559: Sought to ban University System of Maryland law clinics from participating in litigation opposing, contesting, or seeking judicial review of an act, a decision, or a determination of a state agency, department, or board.
DPI supported this ban and the bill. House Bill 559 received an unfavorable committee report and died.
• SB 163/HB 605: These bills sought to create a Maryland ban on the use of certain pesticides. Supporters said this ban would reduce risks to bumblebees. These products already are regulated by the federal government.
DPI opposed the bills because some of the products to be banned are used for insect control inside chicken houses Neither bill got out of committee.