Today, July 19, 2013, the Howard County Department of Planning & Zoning met with leadership from the equine and ag communities for the purpose of modifying the proposed amendments affecting the ag industry in general and the small-parcel equine and livestock farmer in particular. The ag and equine industry leaders present reported that they believed that the session was extremely productive, and the resulting language should satisfy the majority of the equestrian and ag communities. DPZ has to now execute the discussed language, which will need to be reviewed to insure that it is in concordance with the discussion. The Equiery will post the revision as soon as it is made available to the public, which DPZ expects to do no later than Monday, July 22, 2013. The equine and ag industry leaders involved with the meeting felt that it was productive and that the concerns were addressed and rectified, but we still need to see the proposed modifications in the final language.

In addition to various representatives from DPZ and Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty, the meeting included the following community representatives: Howie Feaga, president of the Howard County Farm Bureau and owner/operated of Merry Acres horse farm; Dr Peter Radue, a vet with Damascus Equine Associations (whose vet clinic is in the Howard County portion of Mount Airy) and president of the Maryland Association of Equine Practitioners; Cathy Hudson, a small-parcel custom farmer and small flock keeper; Susan Gray, a Howard County land use attorney and small horse farm owner; Keith Ohlinger, a small custom farmer (virtually all livestock except horses), who serves as an advisor to the Soil Conservation District; Megan Reuwer, also a land use attorney and horse farm owner; Barbara Sollner-Webb, a small horse farm owner in Laurel; your Equiery publisher, and Jane Seigler, president of the Maryland Horse Council. Jane has served on similar work groups in Montgomery County on equine and ag related zoning matters, and served has served on various tasks forces and committees dealing with definitions and regulations with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Also part of the meeting was Dr. Amy Burk, the Extension Horse Specialist for the State of Maryland, specializing in equine nutrition with a particular emphasis on forages. Amy develops regional and statewide extension education programs and publications that aim to teach horse owners how to feed horses and manage their pastures for the betterment of both their horses and the environment. As the Extension Horse Specialist, Dr. Burk provided statewide educational leadership for many years to the Maryland 4-H horse program and is intimately acquainted with the needs of 4-H.Dr. Burk also manages the University of Maryland’s Equine Rotational Grazing Demonstration Farm on Folly Quarter Road in Howard County, which houses 4 horses rotationally grazed on 5.5 acres. Dr. Burk serves on numerous state-wide equine and agricultural committees and is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on small lot equine management.

The Equiery will post the revisions as soon as they are publicly available.