From the Maryland Farm Bureau: 

The proposed emergency regulation to immediately adopt the new Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) as part of a nutrient management plan was withdrawn this morning by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.  The hearing of the AELR Committee in Annapolis that had been scheduled at the request of Senator Rich Colburn for Wednesday is expected to be canceled.

“This was a wise decision by the Administration,” said MD Farm Bureau President Pat Langenfelder upon hearing the emergency PMT regulations were withdrawn. “This will allow MDA to work with the farm community to develop a reasonable schedule to phase-in the new phosphorus tool.”

Immediate implementation of the new Phosphorus Management Tool would have caused severe hardship for farmers who raise poultry and livestock in Maryland.  The existing handling and distribution system for poultry litter and dairy manure (organic fertilizers) would have been disrupted.  

“Farmers, poultry growers and litter handling businesses in Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico Counties did an amazing job of identifying the problem and working with Farm Bureau, DPI, the MD Grain Producers Association and others to tell their story,” Langenfelder explained.

“We appreciate the tireless work of Senators Colburn and Mathias and the entire Eastern Shore delegation for taking those stories to leaders in Annapolis,” said Langenfelder. “This was not a partisan issue and farmers are grateful to have friends on both sides of the aisle who can come together to preserve our farm economy.”

Withdraw of the emergency proposal will allow the regulation to be promulgated under the regular process, which provides for public comment and will accommodate a phased-in schedule of implementation.  Discussions with the industry and a new schedule for implementation will:

Give researchers time to better ground-truth the Phosphorus Management Tool
• Give researchers time to adjust the tool to include variable rate options in fields
  • Allow adjoining watershed states to catch up and adopt the tool on the same timeframe
  • Provide time for farmers to become educated on the use of the new tool
Provide time for farmers to change their operations to either eliminate or add organic poultry litter or dairy manure to their system
  • Give farmers time to buy new equipment to use a different type of fertilizer
Allow the private market for organic fertilizer on the western shore to develop
• Bring online alternative energy suppliers to burn poultry litter and dairy manure to produce electricity
Coincide with the schedule for the Bay Model update that will measure the phosphorus reductions achieved through the use of the new tool
Allow the MGA to reexamine the current manure transportation cost-share program and target funds to develop a western shore market
  • Allow state officials, farm and environmental groups to undertake a public relations campaign to “un-demonize” and educate the general public about the benefits of stockpiling poultry litter and manure for use at the appropriate time for optimal crop growth.

“We look forward to working with the Governor’s staff and the team at MDA to build the appropriate infrastructure for poultry litter and dairy manure movement during the phase-in time period,” said Langenfelder. “We are confident we can do what is right for Bay Restoration while preserving the economic viability of our farm businesses.”