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EPA analyzes animal ag regulations for Md., Del.
By JONATHAN CRIBBS
PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 8, 2015) — The Environmental Protection Agency released two reports last week critiquing animal agriculture regulations in Maryland and Delaware, part of a wide-ranging review of state agricultural regulations within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The reports praised Maryland’s regulations for being “robust and well-implemented” while pointing out that Delaware does not require farmers to submit nutrient management plans to the state for review or approval. Delaware’s agriculture department also doesn’t punish farmers for violating those plans, the EPA said.
The report also said Delaware’s confined animal feeding operations program has issued only one permit since 2010 and holds a backlog of approximately 440 farms that have applied and await a permit. The state has committed to register 150 CAFOs by the end of the year, however.
“The challenge is funding,” Delaware Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee said. “To do these things, increased funding is needed.”
Delaware will meet its goals to reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment the state contributes to the Bay — goals outlined in its federally approved Watershed Implementation Plan to keep nutrients beneath the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, known as TMDL, Kee said.
“I don’t have any quarrel with the report, that’s for sure. … I think we’re going to meet these goals. I want to make that perfectly clear,” he said. “The report points out some pitfalls. One of the major pitfalls could be continued funding in an era of static resources.”
Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, also praised Maryland and criticized lax regulation in Delaware and West Virginia, which was also covered in the EPA reports.
He also singled out the Eastern Shore poultry industry.
“We are concerned with the surge in construction of mega-poultry houses in Maryland, Delaware and elsewhere,” he said in a statement. “The states must determine how they will handle the massive increase in chicken manure from these factory operations in ways that do not harm the environment. If they do not, EPA must intervene.”
Similar reports on New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania were released earlier this year.
The reports are available on the EPA’s website.