Maryland to phase in manure restrictions without delay
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder declared Monday that he saw no need to delay a state regulation that restricts the use of animal manure to fertilize farm fields, despite a study warning there are likely to be problems dealing with the excess manure that is expected to result.
Bartenfelder, in a letter to a departmental advisory committee, said that he was basing his decision on its overwhelming vote recently to oppose any postponement of the restrictions.
The 19-member state advisory committee — which included representatives of the poultry industry, farmers, municipalities and environmentalists — had voted Dec. 13 to recommend against a one-year delay in the restrictions to be imposed in the coming year on more than 1,300 farms in the state.
The Phosphorus Management Tool regulation, adopted in 2015, restricts or bars outright the application of phosphorus on fields where there’s a risk that it will wash out of the soil into nearby streams and drainage ditches when it rains. The restrictions could affect a total of 228,000 acres on 1,600 farms statewide by the time they are fully phased in Jan. 1, 2022.The vote came after the panel received a report from Salisbury University’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) saying that the state lacks the funding, trucks and storage facilities likely needed to collect and haul away the animal manure that grain growers would no longer be able to spread on fields.
So they'll impose the restriction despite the state somehow not finding the resources to uphold its side of the bargain? And what was the state going to do with excess manure that they proposed to haul away?
So far, about 65,000 acres on 350 farms have been regulated. In the coming year, however, nearly 123,000 acres of farm fields are expected to be affected by the rule. Most are on the Eastern Shore, where poultry manure is widely used to fertilize corn and soybean crops.
The regulation is a good one, but it seems to me this one is especially easy for the state to impose, requiring individual farmers to deal with the manure, with no obvious way to dispose of it, and all the attendant costs. Now try that with cities and sewage treatment plants and storm water treatment.
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