AmericanFarm.com

Bartenfelder urges farmers to monitor Md. bills

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Jan. 10, 2017) — The 2017 Maryland General Assembly convenes on Wednesday, Jan. 11, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture has already been muscling up for a 90-day skirmish.
Six bills, emerging out of central Maryland legislative districts and aimed at agriculture, reportedly are poised for introduction.
MDA does not comment on pending legislation until it is introduced but one anticipated bill reportedly would send a bill for five cents to poultry companies for every roaster or broiler they send to the processing plant.
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder is rounding up the troops.
“There is only one active farmer currently in the legislature, which underscores the need for us to help our lawmakers better understand agriculture,” he said in a recently published blog.
“If the General Assembly schedules a hearing for a bill that will affect your operation, I urge you all to come to Annapolis and testify.”
Bartenfelder said the folks at MDA “are starting to hear about some legislation that may be introduced this session that would be of considerable interest to the agriculture community.”
What he called “likely topics” included: legislation that would negatively affect poultry and dairy farmers, initiatives to place additional regulatory burdens on poultry producers through taxes, and take away from current cost share programs like the manure transportation program.
“The department will closely monitor these pieces of legislation and is committed to keep Maryland farmers competitive and profitable,” Bartenfelder wrote. 
“The department is also looking forward to putting forth measures that will promote Maryland agriculture and streamline several departmental programs, ” he added.