Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maryland officials withdraw proposal aimed at reducing farm pollution of Chesapeake Bay

Two days before a scheduled legislative hearing on a proposed regulation aimed at reducing farm runoff polluting the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Department of Agriculture on Monday withdrew "its request to make immediate changes to rules governing where farmers may use chicken manure to fertilize their crops, after chicken growers warned it could cripple the state's lucrative poultry industry if imposed now," Timothy Wheeler reports for The Baltimore Sun. "According to researchers, more than 80 percent of the fields sampled on the Lower Eastern Shore and nearly 50 percent statewide are saturated with phosphorus, one of the plant nutrients in manure and a contributor to the algae blooms and dead zones plaguing the bay and its tributaries."

Last year the relatively small state of Maryland ranked eighth in chicken production, raising 304 million birds worth more than $800 million, according to Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., a trade group. "But those birds produce hundreds of millions of pounds of manure annually, and manure runoff accounts for 26 percent of the phosphorus getting into the bay, according to the Environmental Protection Agency," Wheeler notes. "Crop farmers, chicken growers and others had complained that uncertainty about where manure could be used for fertilizer, and the lack of ready alternatives, threatened to disrupt the poultry industry," and the Maryland Fram Bureau said they needed more time to adjust to the proposed changes. "While farm groups had been pressing for a four-year delay on the new rule, Connelly said they're willing to consider sooner if suitable alternatives have been fleshed out." (Read more)

No comments: