December 14, 2020– The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Phosphorus Management Tool Transition Advisory Committee met earlier today to discuss and vote on a one-year delay to the full implementation of Maryland’s Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT). Maryland Farm Bureau’s (MDFB) farmer representative to the advisory committee voted in favor of a one-year delay consistent with state Farm Bureau policy.
MDFB believes that there are not adequate resources available to fully implement the PMT at this time, and that full implementation will result in significant negative economic consequences to farms with elevated levels of legacy phosphorus. MDA’s soil data shows that 70% of fields located in the three lower shore counties have a phosphorus FIV of 150 or higher.
“Making sure that our members on the lower Eastern Shore have a voice in this process in critical at times like this,” said Wayne Stafford, MDFB President. “Our grassroots-developed policy is clear that there are still too many deficiencies for us to move forward with full implementation.”
Farm Bureau’s board of directors has suggested the following areas be addressed before full implantation of the PMT is considered, using the BEACON study analysis as a baseline:
- Currently, manure storage buildings/sheds for non-manure generating farms are not eligible for Maryland Agriculture Cost Share (MACS) funding. We request that poultry litter storage buildings/sheds be eligible for MACS funding for non-manure generating farms to allow for more off-season storage on farms that have fields with a FIV under 150. This will extend the manure hauling window to year-round for these receiving farms instead of limiting that window to the planting season and should decrease time constraints on manure haulers and poultry house cleanouts.
The initial $1 million dollars allocated to the manure cost share program has increased the distance litter can be hauled. However, even with this funding increase, counties on the western side of the bay are prevented from participating due to mileage and funding caps. We request that funding be increased so that the mileage cap can be raised to allow farmers in central and southern Maryland counties (where phosphorus is needed) to participate.
- We request that MDA validate that fertilizer distributors located on the lower shore have adequate storage and delivery capacity to accommodate an increase in nitrogen and other fertilizer needs that will result once the PMT is fully implemented. Full implementation of the PMT will result in a decrease of poultry litter available to be used as a source of fertilizer for approximately 100,000 acres of farmland in the three lower shore counties.
- We request MDA implement policies to deter price gouging by fertilizer wholesalers and retailers as the demand for alternative sources of fertilizer increases due to full implementation of the PMT.
- Regarding the Maryland Income Tax Subtraction Modification for Conservation Equipment, a farmer is allowed a subtraction on his/her Maryland Tax Return equal to 100 percent of the cost of buying and installing conservation tillage equipment, liquid manure injection equipment, poultry or livestock manure spreading equipment, global positioning devices, and integrated optical sensing and nutrient application systems. Vertical tillage equipment used to incorporate livestock manure or poultry litter is eligible for a subtraction credit of 50 percent of its cost. We request this valuable tax program be expanded to also include poultry litter hauling vehicles to increase the supply of litter hauling vehicles on the shore.
- We request MDA work with interested party stakeholders to increase public outreach and provide technical assistance to additional farms that are interested in and have the capacity to receive poultry litter on fields with a FIV under 150.
Maryland Farm Bureau and its members are dedicated to the mission of the Phosphorus Management Tool Transition Advisory Committee and using the Phosphorus Management Tool. For the highest likelihood of success and largest impact on the environment we all live and work in, we hope the Maryland Department of Agriculture will help address our above issues as implementation begins.