RANDALLSTOWN — Maryland farmers are sharing their concerns about a proposal to update the phosphorus measurement portion of their nutrient management plans. The Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) is designed to be more sensitive to the potential for phosphorus to move from farmland. Hundreds of family farmers spoke at recent briefings, are filing official comments and will voice their opposition at an upcoming hearing.
While leading the nation in management practices that protect the environment and the Chesapeake Bay, farmers in the Free State believe there are too many unanswered questions with this latest regulation that could put them out of business.
“When our Board of Directors met with Governor O’Malley just a few years ago in Annapolis, he pledged that he would not ask Maryland farmers to do more until the farmers in surrounding states caught up with what we already accomplished,” said Maryland Farm Bureau President Patricia Langenfelder. “No other state has come close to catching up and no other state is proposing to adopt the PMT.”
In basic terms, many farmers who are now using the organic manure from their poultry houses to fertilize their fields will not only have the expense of hauling that away, but will have to purchase man-made chemical fertilizers and new equipment to enrich their soil.
Some of the concerns raised at the recent farmer briefings include:
The Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee will hold a hearing on the PMT at 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 20th in the Legislative Services Building in Annapolis. Hundreds of farmers are expected to attend.
Contrary to recent reports from environmental groups, Maryland Farm Bureau has stood firm with its farmers on the PMT regulations. “Farm Bureau and other groups did not make an agreement with anyone on this issue,” said Valerie Connelly, MFB government relations director. “We listened to what the Administration and the environmentalists said they were willing to do. We advised them that one year was not long enough to phase in a major change like the one they proposed. We asked for more time. We were denied.”
Maryland Farm Bureau is a private, non-profit membership organization. It is controlled by its members through the democratic process and is financed by voluntary membership dues. Its strength comes from the active participation of over 37,000 member families that belong to the state’s 23 county Farm Bureaus.