Thursday, December 22, 2011

Update of Proposed Child Farm Labor Rules

From the Maryland Farm Bureau: Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) on Friday introduced a measure that expresses the sense of the Congress that “the Secretary of Labor should recognize the unique circumstances of family farm youth and multi-generational family partnerships in agricultural operations when drafting regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
Latham’s legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), is a response to a proposal by the Department of Labor that would affect the ability of growers to hire youth, limit training offered by the Cooperative Extension Service and vocational educational programs such as 4-H and FFA and also potentially affect the existing family farm exemption. In addition, the new rules could prevent young people from doing other types of work that isn’t directly agricultural but related to agriculture, such as jobs connected with grain storage. Farmers and ranchers are worried that the proposed rules could significantly affect the way families work their operations. DOL is currently reviewing public comments on its proposal.
For more info on DOL's proposal, see MHC Legislative Blogpost of November 11. 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

MHC letter regarding Sunday hunting bill in PG County

Dear Delegate Valderrama,

I am writing on behalf of the Maryland Horse Council (MHC), which is the umbrella organization for all Maryland horse associations, businesses, farms, owners and enthusiasts. Our membership represents over 30,000 Marylanders, many of whom are your constituents in Prince Georges County.

I write to express our concern over proposed bill PG 304-12, which would allow Sunday hunting on private land on most Sundays in the season. Although MHC has consistently supported efforts by farmers and landowners to control the deer population and the damage that it can inflict on crops and the landscape, we do believe that there should be one day each week when members of the public, including horseback riders, bikers, hikers and joggers can enjoy both public and private land without concern for their safety, and indeed without loss of quiet enjoyment.

Although we understand that this bill is limited to private land, that limitation does not address these concerns. For one thing, the sound of gunshots does not respect property lines. More importantly, stray arrows and bullets sometimes do not, either, particularly when deer stands are close to boundaries, or when public land is a narrow swath following a stream bed or abandoned rail line. Moreover, in many areas, the boundaries between public and private land are not clearly marked, causing both hunters and recreational users inadvertently to go astray.

We urge you to reconsider your sponsorship of this bill.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MD Dept of Ag to reconsider Nutrient Management Proposal

On December 1, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) confirmed to the Maryland Horse Council (MHC) that it had “delayed publication of the [new, proposed] nutrient management regulations in an effort to achieve consensus with concerned stakeholders.” On October 27, MDA had submitted proposed changes in those regulations to the State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR). If the AELR Committee had approved the proposed regulatory changes, they would have been published in the Maryland Register for a 45-day public comment period. The planned date for that publication was December 2. Instead, MDA announced that it was going back to the drawing board, and promised to include MHC in the process. On November 15, at MHC’s Annual Meeting, MDA representatives fielded a number of questions from MHC members who raised concerns about how the proposal would affect horse operations. The current nutrient management regulations (which basically govern manure and pasture management) as well as any proposed changes, apply only to those horse farms with 8 or more (non-draft sized) horses or with $2500 or more in gross annual income.

MDA has been struggling for months to come up with regulatory changes to help the State meet goals imposed by the Federal EPA related to the Chesapeake Bay clean up effort. (See below for more information on the Bay effort.) An initial draft of the proposed changes surfaced last Spring, and immediately drew outcry from the Maryland Horse Council, the Maryland Farm Bureau, and many farmers and individuals over the specifics of the proposed changes, some of which contained requirements that would have been difficult or impossible to implement in the context of the typical horse operation. As a result of these comments, the State’s Nutrient Management Advisory Committee (which includes representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, MDA, University of Maryland, Maryland Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, Maryland Farm Bureau, Delaware-Maryland Agribusiness Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, commercial lawn care companies, the biosolids industry, as well as local governments and the state legislature, and which has been considering the proposed changes for the past year) made changes to the proposal.

A summary of the MDA’s proposed changes submitted to AELR, with a link to the full text of the proposed regulations, is available online at: The proposal contained the following requirements of particular interest to horse farmers:


Effective January 1, 2014, setbacks of vegetated areas, where no nutrients may be deposited or applied, will be required at the edge of surface water:

Pastures and hayfields are subject to a 10-foot application setback; no nutrients shall be applied mechanically or deposited by livestock with the setback. Sacrifice lots (less than 75% grass or grass legume mix) shall maintain a 35-foot setback.

Essentially, this means that streams and ponds must be fenced. One improvement in this provision over a previous version is that “ephemeral streams” are now excluded from the definition of surface water.


Operators are responsible for sediment and erosion control of stream crossing areas. Operators shall move livestock from one side of the stream to the other side only through stream crossings designed to prevent erosion and sediment loss. Operators shall gate crossing areas wider than 12 feet. Operators may allow livestock controlled access to streams for watering in accordance with the USDA-NRCRS Field Office Technical Guide standards and specifications.

There is no effective date specified for this provision. An MDA official commented at the MHC meeting that it was “not clear” whether this provision would apply to stream crossings on trails.

Timing of application of nutrients

During Spring and Summer (March 1 – September 9): manure may be spread or deposited directly on permanent pastures and land used for hay production. These applications will now be exempt from the requirement that nutrients be “injected or incorporated” within 72 hours, as was contained in a previous draft.

During the Fall (September 10 – November 15): livestock manure may be applied only if:

The operation making the application is generating the dairy/livestock manure or waste and storage is insufficient to accommodate additional materials generated before March 1st of the following year.

Again, there is no incorporation requirement for pastures or hayfields.

During the winter (November 16 – February 28): The proposal states that winter application of stackable manures (e.g., horse manure) is prohibited, which is also the case under the current regulations. Virtually all winter applications will be prohibited effective July 1, 2016. Famers will be expected to have adequate manure storage facilities in place to handle 120 days of manure production, and no manure may be applied to fields (except for what is directly applied by livestock).

However, the proposal will allow temporary field storage (up to 120 days) if certain standards are met regarding location, setbacks from water sources and residences, slope and grade, and cleanup of the site in the Spring. If these standards cannot be met, than a manure storage facility must be built by 2016.

The 2016 effective date is intended to give farmers enough time to plan for the installation of manure storage facilities, and to apply for cost-share and other government programs providing financial assistance. However, funds for these programs are limited and continue to be subject to budget cutting. Some farmers are not eligible at all for these programs, due to the nature of their operations.

In order to understand where MDA is coming from in its efforts to amend these regulations, it’s useful to have some background. In 1972 Congress passed the Clean Water Act, which in essence mandated that polluted water bodies be restored to environmental health. In the late 1990’s, several environmental groups brought suit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), complaining of the slow progress in improving the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. These lawsuits resulted in two consent decrees that eventually produced what are known as the Bay TMDL and the WIP. The Bay TMDL (or “Total Maximum Daily Load”) is essentially a prescription for the maximum amount of a pollutant that will be allowed to enter a water body. TMDL’s have been variously described as “pollution budgets” or “pollution diets” that must be adhered to if the Bay is to be restored to, and maintain, environmental health. For the Bay, the pollutants that are subject to the TMDL are nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. in 2010, the EPA established the TMDLs for the Bay watershed, an area of 64,000 square miles including New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and required these jurisdictions to develop “Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans” (WIPs). These Phase I WIPs allocated the allowable pollutant load among different types of sources and identified statewide strategies for reducing these nutrient and sediment pollutants. You can read the Executive Summary of Maryland’s Phase 1 WIP here:; and see the entire Maryland Phase I WIP here: For general information, see:

Maryland is now engaged in developing its Phase II WIP. The Maryland Phase I WIP identified the following broad sources of pollutants: agriculture, urban, septic, wastewater and forest. The Phase II WIP will refine the Phase I plan to include more local details about where and how nutrient and sediment loads will be reduced to clean up the Bay. Although the Phase II WIP is a State document, required by EPA, the State is working with local teams, organized at the county level, to produce the plan. These teams include representation by entities with responsibility and authority to control nutrient and sediment loads, such as county and municipal governments, soil conservation districts, and federal and State agencies among others. Meetings are currently underway on a county by county basis to discuss specific targets and goals for pollutant reduction and receive input from stakeholders about their realistic achievability.

To find out about the status in your county, see:, and scroll down to click on your county.

So what does this all mean to you, the Maryland horse farm owner? TMDLs apply to both “point” (e.g., industrial facilities and sewage treatment plants) and “non-point” (e.g., runoff from the land following rain or snow melt) sources of pollutants. However, although there are direct regulatory mechanisms under the Clean Water Act for enforcing TMDL requirements for “point” sources, e.g., through the permitting process, “non-point” sources are generally not regulated and so there is no direct enforcement mechanism. (Although, theoretically, there are certain measures that could be taken that could transform non-point sources into point sources (e.g., the EPA could rewrite state-level CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) permits to “expand the universe of regulated operations” to include more livestock farmers.) Nevertheless, at least for the present, achievement of TMDL goals for non-point sources generally must be achieved by promoting the use of best management practices (BMPs) through incentives such as cost-sharing and grants (although in this era of budget cutting, there is admittedly not enough grant money to address all non-point source discharges). So, bottom line, in order to meet its TMDL goals for the agricultural sector, the state and county teams are looking at how the use of certain best management practices, e.g. cover crops, stream buffers and fencing, manure incorporation, etc., can be increased, with a resultant reduction in pollution reaching the Bay. Again, although at this point neither the State nor the federal government can force individual landowners to use certain BMPs, there is enormous pressure, both legal and political, on the State to meet its TMDL goals. According to MDA’s press release announcing the proposed changes to the nutrient management regulations, “a main purpose of the changes is to achieve consistency in how all sources of nutrients . . . are managed and applied to agricultural land throughout the state. That consistency will facilitate the State’s ability to demonstrate how it will meet its TMDL requirements.”

Horse farmers should not lose sight of the fact that they already play an important and positive role in protecting the health of the Bay. There is no more beneficial use of land in terms of protecting water quality than a well managed horse pasture. Given the inevitability of the TMDL requirements, horse farmers may well want to consider how they can get out in front of this issue, to help improve the Bay without hurting their bottom lines. In the meantime, lots of free advice and help are available from local soil conservation districts who can provide horse farmers with individualized soil conservation plans that improve both farm operational efficiency and the health of the environment. Help in finding and applying for cost share programs and grants is also available, and participation in these programs is voluntary. Information on local Soil Conservation Districts can be found here: MHC has formed a new Farm Stewardship Committee which will be tracking regulatory and legislative developments and working to get the word out on the positive role that well managed horse farms already play in protecting the natural environment. To get more involved with the Farm Stewardship Committee, contact Jane Thery at

Monday, November 21, 2011

WSSC still largely rebuffs trail riders' pleas

Here is a good Gazette article on the latest WSSC Commission meeting concerning their decision to reduce trail access:

Baltimore City proposed legislation relating to horses

The City of Baltimore will vote soon on a bill introduced by Councilperson Curran, that will re-authorize Health Department rules governing animals in the city, including horses. Here are comments submitted by the Horse Council:
The Maryland Horse Council respectfully submits the following comments on proposed bill #11-0766.
The Maryland Horse Council is the umbrella organization representing equine interest associations, farms, businesses and individuals in Maryland. We have 40 member associations, and together with them and our farm, business and individual members, the Horse Council represents over 30,000 people throughout Maryland.
We are submitting these comments because, on review of this proposed bill, we feel that many of the provisions are outdated or impractical as applied to horses and other equines. While we understand that these provisions may not have been enforced in recent years, this seems like a good opportunity to "clean up" the law and make it more relevant in its application. Also, we understand that the resident population of equines in Baltimore City may be very low, but in at least some respects its provisions apply to horses that come into the city for parades, shows and exhibitions, so it would make sense to ensure that the applicable law is practical in the modern day context.
Finally, we understand that some amendments have been submitted subsequent to the draft we have reviewed, so perhaps some of the concerns we raise here have already been addressed.
Here are our specific comments:
From our perspective, the most problematic sections of the proposed bill are contained within Subtitle 9: Horse Riding and Driving. These problems in large part stem from the fact that the term "driving" is defined to include "riding." 10-901(C). From that definition flows the conclusion that anyone riding a horse within the City of Baltimore must be 18 years of age and have a license. 10-905. We recommend deleting the reference to riding in both the definitions of Driving, 10-901(C), and Driving License, 10-901(D).
The annual examination and record keeping requirements of sec. 10-912 should not be made to apply to horses privately owned and in private use. We recommend adding here the language that appears in 10-913, i.e., that requirement only applies to horses " BEING USED FOR ANY PURPOSE ON THE STREETS OF THE CITY." I would make a similar suggestion for the sections governing quarters (10-917-note that, most likely, the definition of horse riding and rental stables under state law will change this year; MDA is working on a draft bill), and sick or injured horses (10-918). This change would bring these sections into line with sec. 10-921, which requires identification papers and vet certification for horses on the City streets.
P.O. BOX 233 LISBON, MD 21765
The requirement in sec. 10-916 "MAY NOT USE CURB BITS, TWISTED WIRE, TWISTED WIRE SNAFFLES, SPURS, BUCKING STRAPS, FLANK STRAPS, OR SIMILAR DEVICES," should be deleted. Many english show riders use spurs of some sort. They are required at certain levels of Dressage competition. Outlawing bucking straps would eliminate Rodeos from the city. Flank straps on western saddles equipped for them are a safety item; not properly fastening a flank strap can turn the saddle into an ejection seat if the horse bucks or stops abruptly leading to injury to the rider. The United States Equestrian Federation and its affiliates have detailed rules governing the humane use of equipment, so the City should leave that regulation to them.
In other sections of the bill, there are some issues that should be cleaned up to make them more current and practicable as applied to horses: Definitions (10-101): (G) ANIMAL FANCIER.
“ANIMAL FANCIER” MEANS A PERSON WHO OWNS OR KEEPS, WITHIN OR ADJOINING A PRIVATE RESIDENCE, 2 OR MORE ANIMALS FOR THE NON-COMMERCIAL PURPOSES OF: (1) BREEDING; (2) HUNTING; (3) TRACKING; (4) EXHIBITION IN SHOWS; OR (5) EXHIBITION IN FIELD OR OBEDIENCE TRIALS. This defined term, which we believe is new in this bill, could be read to include an individual horse owner who keeps two or more show horses or foxhunters on his property. The inclusion of horses in the term "animal fancier" has further implications under the law, including subjecting the owner to a licensing requirement. Under current Maryland state law, only lesson, rental or boarding stables and rescues are required to have licenses. Similarly, the definition of "pet" 10-101(AA) is also problematic (“PET” MEANS ANY ANIMAL KEPT PRIMARILY FOR PLEASURE RATHER THAN UTILITY.) Under Maryland state law, horses and other equines are considered livestock, not companion animals. We would recommend adding an exclusion for livestock to the definitions of both animal fancier and pet.
The requirement in Sec. 10-215 that any facility that sells or gives away an animal must keep certain records is newly applied to horses, and therefore could include a person who sells his horse to another. (The impact of this provision is not clear, since "facility" is not defined. This problem could be cured by adding the phrase "facility as listed in Sec. 10-210" (which
are (1) ANIMAL CLINIC; (2) ANIMAL SHELTER; (3) COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT; OR ANIMAL FANCIER) (assuming that "animal fancier will be redefined to exclude livestock).
P.O. BOX 233 LISBON, MD 21765
Sec. 10-313 is problematic, especially as it applied to horses kept on private property, as well as horses that may be ridden on any current or future approved bridle trails in public parks: (A) IN GENERAL.
(B) DEPOSIT IN STORM DRAIN, ETC., PROHIBITED. THE OWNER OR CUSTODIAN OF A ANIMAL MAY NOT DISPOSE OF THE ANIMAL’S FECES BY PLACING THEM IN A STORM DRAIN OR WATERSHED AREA. We would suggest adding in subsection (C) an exclusion for horses kept or ridden on private land or on approved public bridle trails.
Secs. 10-501(B)(3) & (4) should contain an exclusion for livestock in parades, and kept on private property, as well as horses that may be ridden on any current or future approved bridle trails in public parks: “PUBLIC NUISANCE ANIMAL” MEANS AN ANIMAL THAT: (3) DEFECATES ON PUBLIC PROPERTY; (4) URINATES OR DEFECATES ON PRIVATE PROPERTY;
The criminal penalties outlined in sec.10-1105 (misdemeanor conviction and $1000 per day fine) seem disproportionately harsh as applied to, for example,
P.O. BOX 233 LISBON, MD 21765
some of the record keeping provisions of the law. Perhaps some sliding scale should be added.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments, and for your consideration of them.
P.O. BOX 233 LISBON, MD 21765

Monday, November 14, 2011

The IRS has announced a new settlement program that may be a benefit to employers who have misclassified employees as independent contractors. For more information, see this article by Pam Saul for

Friday, November 11, 2011

According to the American Horse Council, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new child labor regulations applicable to agriculture. The proposed rule would place new limits on the work “hired farm workers” under 16 (and in some cases 18) would be allowed to do – and this could severely impact horse farms, auctions and sales that employ young people to work hands-on with horses.

Currently, young people under 16 are prohibited from working in most occupations. However, the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), which established American child labor laws, includes an exemption for agriculture that allows children under 16 to work on farms and ranches.

“This proposed rule would radically restrict the work employed young people would be allowed to perform,” said AHC President Jay Hickey. “We are very concerned the DOL is attempting to so limit what young workers can do on farms and ranches that it would be impossible to usefully employ young people.”

The proposed rule would exclude employed workers under 16 from most animal husbandry activities such as breeding, vaccinating and treating sick or injured animals, including horses. It would prohibit teenagers under 16 from working near breeding stallions. The proposed rule would also prohibit workers under 16 from herding livestock from horseback or on a motorized vehicle (no gatoring of horses) or on foot in confined spaces such as pens or corrals. The operation of almost any type of tractor or power equipment would be prohibited. The proposed rule would prohibit employed workers under 18 from working in feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges or auctions. More on the proposed changes can be found on the AHC website.

“The DOL is saying most work around livestock is too dangerous for anyone under 16. I don’t believe most people who have grown up on a farm or ranch would agree with that opinion. These rules are so extreme operating a lawn mower wouldn’t be allowed,” said AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass.

Ostensibly, the proposed new rules would not apply to young people working on farms and ranches owned or operated by their parents.

“While the ‘parental exemption’ is supposedly left intact we are concerned family farms and ranches that are owned as partnerships, even with other family members, such as grandparents, or bothers and sisters, or operated as LLCs would not qualify under the ‘parental exemption’ in these proposed rules,” said Pendergrass. “We don’t believe these proposed rules recognize the reality or traditions of agriculture. Basically if you have a nephew, niece or grandchild or other young person who is 15 and wants to work on your farm or ranch you can hire them, but there is not much farm work they would technically be allowed to do. We are also very concerned that these rules could bar anyone under 18 from working in any capacity at a horse sale or auction.”

It also does not apply to young people doing unpaid “chores” or recreational activities, but it is unclear whether work that receives compensation in the form of lessons or other farm services would be “paid” or “unpaid.” Some jurisdictions considered any compensation through services (such as lessons or board) to be taxable income.

Comments on these proposed new rules were due November 1, 2011. “The AHC and other agricultural industries have asked the DOL for a 60 extension of the comment period. It is unclear whether or not this extension will be granted,” said Hickey. “We are currently drafting comments to submit to the DOL, if anyone in the horse community has examples of how the proposed rule would impact their horse farm or ranch please email us at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The next session of the Maryland General Assembly is only a few short months away, so now is a good time to make sure that you will be ready to make your voice heard in Annapolis.

Although it's fine to contact any public official about an issue, your opinions will carry particular weight with the representatives of your own district.

First, you will need to make sure you know who your representatives are. Here is a very handy link: Just type in your home address; the names and contact info for both your state and federal representatives will be provided to you.

If you are writing about a particular piece of legislation, it's also good to contact the Committee members who will initially be considering the bill. You can find the list of committees and their members here: You can find out which Committee has been assigned a particular bill by entering its number on the Bill Information and Status link here: Note that this link will only begin to work after bills have been introduced for the 2012 session. You can also click on the Bill Indexes link on this page to search for proposed legislation by subject matter.

When contacting a legislator, be sure to identify yourself, where you live, and how and why you personally are affected by the issue. Be sure to include as many hard facts and figures as you can to back up your opinion, and be sure to state specifically what you want the legislator to do, e.g., "vote yes for SB 100."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Support Needed For Bill Introduced to Save H-2B Foreign Worker Program

Courtesy of the American Horse Council.

Support Needed For Bill Introduced to Save H-2B Foreign Worker Program 
The horse industry relies on H-2B foreign workers to operate. The Department of Labor (DOL) is about to adopt two new rules concerning the H-2B program that could significantly impact horse employers who utilize it. The AHC fears these actions could make the H-2B program essentially unusable for many employers.

Because of the severe impact these DOL rules could have on the small and seasonal businesses that rely on the H-2B program, Congressman Rodney Alexander(R-LA) has introduced H.R. 3162 a bill that would prohibit DOL from implementing, amending or enforcing a new H-2B wage rule or a proposed rule that would make changes to the entire program.

Specifically, the DOL will begin using a new formula for calculating prevailing wages on November 30.  This regulation will impact H-2B users who have labor certifications that are valid after November 30, 2011 and anyone hiring H-2B workers in the future.  These new wages will need to be paid to current and future H-2B workers and any U.S. workers hired in connection with the H-2B recruitment process. More information on the wage rule can be found here on the AHC website .

Additionally, in December the DOL is planning to finalize a second rule that will affect the program further. The rule will likely require employers to hire any qualified U.S. worker up to three days before the H-2B worker is scheduled to begin and require employers to pay transportation and subsistence costs for potential U.S. workers. A full description of the proposed rule and AHC comments on the proposed rule can be found here on the AHC website.  

The American Horse Council urges you to call or email your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3162 introduced by Congressman Alexander.

Call your Representative and tell them;
  • The H-2B program is vital to the $102 billion horse industry and new DOL rules threaten the ability of the horse industry to participate in that program.
  • Horse industry employers do not use the H-2B program by choice. They are forced to use it because American workers are not seeking these jobs.
  • In the current economic conditions the new rules will drastically increase the cost of an already costly system and could be devastating to employers who rely on H-2B workers.
  • Most horse industry employers who use the H-2B program also employ American workers in other capacities and support many other jobs.
  • If current users of the H-2B program are no longer able to afford to participate, the jobs of many Americas employed by the horse industry will be put at risk.  
  • Please co-sponsor the H.R. 3162 introduced by Congressman Alexander
You can reach your Representative by calling the Congressional switchboard at (202) 225-3121.  Ask for your Representative's office and then ask to speak to the staff person who handles immigration issues.

Email your Representative

You can personalize and email the attached letter to your Representative. You should personalize the email if you can with information about yourself and how the H-2B program impacts your segment of the industry.

To find the email address for your Representatives or to find out who your Representative is go to  or you can call the AHC.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pending loss of public horse trail in Chincoteague, VA

via Ron MacNab (Executive Committee member and TROT representative) ... 
The US Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service are developing plans for Assateague Beach,  near Chincoteague, VA.   Two of the four alternate plans would eliminate horseback riding around Tom's Hook.   This would be a tragic loss to those who live and ride in the area.   Hopefully it will not set a president for Assateague Island in Maryland.  
For more information visit, or call (757) 336-6577 

Nancy Kupelian is leading the effort to preserve horseback riding.  She can be contacted at:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Horses in Deficit Negotiations?

One of the items "on the table" in the current debt reduction and debt ceiling debate in Washington is a proposal to remove a provision in the tax code that began in 2009 (originally sponsored by Sen, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)), which lets thoroughbred owners depreciate the value of their animals over three years instead of seven -- an important timetable since many horses race only for three or four years. Unless extended by Congress, the tax provision automatically expires in 2013. It is unclear whether this proposal will be a part of any package that eventually emerges from the current debate.

Click HERE for The Baltimore Sun's article.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Proposed Changes to Law Onerous to Horse Farm Owners (via The Equiery)

via The Equiery

Proposed changes to nutrient management laws are onerous to horse farm owners
By Pam Saul
Below you will find the list of changes to the Nutrient Management Plan, which have been proposed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Deadline for commenting on the proposed changes is Wednesday, June 29, 2011.
Every horse owner needs to know about proposed change #3, which requires that all livestock (including horses) must be fenced out of all continual and intermittent streams. What this means is that if you have a dry creek that runs through the middle of a paddock, then horses are not allowed access to it and you must fence it off.
This is a serious change and one that will certainly have drastic changes to a majority of the horse farms in this area.  I hope that all horse farm owners will take a hard look at these proposed changes and send their comments into MDA by June 29, 2011.
From the June 24, 2011 Maryland Farm Bureau’s Government Relations Bulletin
Maryland Department of Ag Proposes Changes to Nutrient Management Program
MDA is proposing to change the nutrient management plan requirements in the Manual and Guidelines issued to consultants.  The changes include:
1. No fall application of commercial fertilizer to fall planted small grain crops unless a soil nitrate test shows less than 10ppm for wheat or 15ppm for barley. (This will allow all small grain crops to count as cover crops in the TMDL calculation.)
2. A uniform 35-foot setback from the edge of surface water for all broadcast fertilizer and vegetated buffers. (Effective January 1, 2014)
3. Stream fencing – A uniform 10-foot setback from water (including continual and intermittent streams) for pastures and hayfields.  No nutrient can be applied mechanically or deposited by livestock within the setback. (Effective January 1, 2014)
4. From March 1st – September 9th all manures and other organic nutrient sources must be injected or incorporated within 72 hours.
5. Operators and generators of livestock manures must make plans to have “adequate” storage to eliminate the need for winter application by July 1, 2016.
6.  Until July 1, 2016, winter application of manure due to lack of adequate storage must be injected only and applied only to existing vegetative cover or significant crop residue.
7.  No application of any nutrient sources shall be made between November 16th and February 28th after July 1, 2016.
8.  All soil conditioners, soil amendments, waste materials or effluent applied to agricultural land must be registered with the state chemist and applied using all restrictions contained in the nutrient management law.  This means sewage sludge applications will not be allowed to be applied from November to March under the same conditions that apply to manures and other organic nutrients.
MDA has asked for preliminary comments by June 29th.  Sometime after that date MDA will forward the proposal to the AELR Committee of the Legislature and publish it for public comment as required by law.  MFB’s comments will be finalized on Tuesday, June 28th and filed with MDA.  If you would like to file comments of your own, please email them to  Please copy so we can include your thoughts in our official comments as well.
Pam Saul is the manager and an owner of Rolling Acres Farm in Montgomery County, is the president of Farm & Equine Business Services, LLC, and has served on numerous agricultural boards and committees, including but not limited to, the Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture; Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center (MREDC); Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO); Maryland Farm Bureau Political Action Committee; Maryland Farm Bureau Equine Advisory Committee – member  (Past Chair); Montgomery County Soil Conservation District; Montgomery County Farm Bureau (Vice President); Montgomery County Ad Hoc Agricultural Policy Work Group.

Friday, June 17, 2011

WSSC June 15 meeting update

via Ron MacNab (Executive Committee member and TROT representative) ...

We had a very successful meeting today at the WSSC.  Although we were not on the agenda, we did have an opportunity to speak. 

Of the 30 to 40 attending the meeting, about 10 spoke and all stood to be recognized.  Representatives from the offices of Senator Roger Manno District 19, Senator Karen Montgomery District 14, and Delegate Josolynn Pena-Melnyk District 21 spoke in support of horseback riding.  They asked that WSSC retain the equestrian trail and work with the equestrian community to improve the trails and redirect the trail where necessary to reduce environmental impact.  Ross Peddicord, Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board spoke on behalf of the horse industry in Maryland.   He noted that the area surrounding Rocky Gorge represented a large portion of the total horses in the state including over twenty licensed riding stables.  Horses are a billion dollar industry in Maryland and requires an infrastructure of suitable places to ride.  The Governor, who is very supportive of growing  Maryland's horse industry, and the Secretary of Agriculture, have been made aware of WSSC's new policy and the harm it could cause.  The Gazette newspaper was present and took pictures for a forth coming article.

By the end of the meeting, the Commissioners seemed quite pleased to hear from so many citizens.  One asked for a tour of Rocky Gorge so that she can share what she sees with her fellow Commissioners.  Two other Commissioners spoke up saying that they also had horses and could understand our point of view.

The last to speak was Mr. Jerry Johnson, General Manager and CEO of WSSC.   He announced that he was requesting his staff to schedule a meeting with representatives of the equestrian community to discuss how offending portions of the trail could be improved to reduce environmental impact and discuss how the equestrian trail will be maintained in the future.  We were very pleased.

I will notify you when I lean more about the meeting.
There are several things we can all take away from this experience"

  • How fortunate we are to live in a land where we have the opportunity to speak up and officials will listen.
  • How important it is to have citizen involvement;   Grass roots efforts work.  Your voice is important and it is heard.
  • How important it is to have elective officials who listen and will speak up for us.   Remember they need our support as well.  
  • How important it is to belong to organizations that support our interests.   Get involved with them.
Thanks to all of you who wrote letters, made phone calls signed petitions, and came out to meetings.

It is not over, but my hope is to improve the trail, redirect it where appropriate and agree on who and how the trail is to be maintained.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Not "legislative news" in particular, but news nonetheless ...

Governor will wish Derby winner ‘Animal Kingdom’ well, promote horse industry a day after signing legislation that preserves next year’s racing season

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 19, 2011) – On the eve of the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes, and a day after signing legislation that preserves next year’s racing calendar and thousands of jobs associated with Maryland’s horse industry, Governor Martin O’Malley will visit Cecil County’s Fair Hill Training Center.  There, he will be lead on a private tour of Team Valor’s stable by trainer Graham Motion, where the Governor will wish Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdomwell as he prepares for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.  Following the stable tour, Governor O’Malley will discuss the future of horse racing in Maryland, and the importance of preserving horse related agriculture in our State. 

The Maryland horse industry has assets totaling more than $5.6 billion, holds approximately 10 percent of Maryland’s land (587,000 acres), has twice as many horses per square mile as Virginia, Texas, California, or Kentucky and employs more than 28,000 people. There are more than 79,000 horses in Maryland valued at $714 million.

Yesterday, Governor O’Malley added his signature to legislation he sponsored which redistributes existing slots revenues to assist in the operations of Maryland’s racetracks, salvaging the racing season for next year and likely for 2013 as well, and preserving thousands of jobs associated with Maryland’s horse industry.  Late last year, after negotiations between all parties had broken down, Governor O’Malley brokered a last-minute deal that preserved the 2011 racing calendar, helping to keep Maryland’s treasured Preakness Stakes where it belongs and protecting the more than 28,000 people who work in Maryland’s horse industry full time. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Results on Maryland Sunday hunting legislation

via Ron MacNab (Executive Committee member and TROT representative) ... 

The legislative session in Annapolis has ended and we have the results.
  • The Carroll Co. Bill permitting Sunday hunting on private land passed.  Hunters turned out in mass for a county town meeting with legislators which undoubtedly was effective.
  • The House and Senate Bills delegating control of Sunday hunting to Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) failed.  These bills would have given DNR the authority to permit Sunday hunting on private property from the second Sunday in October to the second Sunday in January in most counties.
  • The Harford Co. Bill permitting Sunday hunting on private land failed.
Government is working as it should.  Legislators do listen to their constituents.  Active citizenship involvement is as important today as ever. 

HB 1039

From Amy Samman (Chair of MHC Legislative Committee) ...

Here is the link to the enrolled version of HB 1039:

Also, here is a link to Bowie Patch's article, "Bowie Training Center Will Stay Open This Year":

Monday, April 11, 2011

Race Track Renewal Funds & The Future of Bowie

Via The Equiery:

There are now only 3 days left, as the 2011 Maryland General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Monday, April 11.
In March, we reported on the progress of a bill of tremendous interest to anyone associated in any way with racing in Maryland, be they horsemen, track owners, vets, farriers, breeders or fans: theRace Track Renewal Fund. The general media has referred to this bill as “another race subsidy,” which is rather unfair, as all this bill does is to allow certain slot funds (which are currently, by law, allocated to race track capital improvements) to be used (under limited and certain circumstances) for track operating costs.
HB 1036 and SB 848 are considered “Governor’s bills,” as they were submitted, respectively, by the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate at the request of the administration – and it is important for Equiery readers to understand that this legislation has the full support of the Governor, as well as a wide variety of racing interests.
On March 26, the House passed a heavily amended version of the bill. The amendments include creating an oversight commission on racing (yes, dear readers, there already is an oversight commission on racing, created by law, and called “The Maryland Racing Commission;” this amendment would provide another layer of oversight, with this commission made up of elected officials who would review business plans…hmmm) and prohibiting the tracks from using any of the funds to pay for lobbying or litigation (that sounds reasonable, under the circumstances), and insures that the Maryland State Fair (a.k.a. Timonium) would also get a few bucks (when submitting legislations, everyone always seems to forget that Timonium is a race track too!). The amendments also require that the tracks submit five year business plans for profitability, and that certainly – on the surface – sounds reasonable.
HB 1036 passed 94-39 and crossed over to the Senate in the nick of time; it was heard in Senate Budget & Taxation on March 30, and there has been no action since then…but the race isn’t over yet!  They’ve turned for home, and the wire is in sight…
Meanwhile, the other racing bill that still seems to have legs is SB 491, which would authorize the owner of the Bowie Race Course Training Center (that would be the Maryland Jockey Club, which is still owned by MI Development and Penn National) to convey the property associated with the training center to the State, Prince George’s County, or the City of Bowie. Originally, this bill would have mandated that the Training Center could only go to the State as preserved land under Program Open Space, but a whole-lotta people had a whole-lotta problems with that, and so the bill was amended to eliminate that provision and to allow the opportunity for the land to go to PG County or Bowie.  The amendments also clarify that, upon transfer of ownership to one of the above said public entities, said public entity has no legal obligation to continue to run the facility as a Thoroughbred training facility.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill on March 25, and the House Ways & Means gave it a favorable report on Wed. April 6, so the bill has turned for home and it is “down the stretch they come.”
That’s all we’ve got, folks. If you have any thoughts or comments you would like to share, you may post them below in the comments field or e-mail them to

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Shutdown Could Impact Horse Industry

Via The Equiery:

The American Horse Council reports at this time Congress has failed to come to an agreement regarding a bill to fund the government for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year.  The current Continuing Resolution funding the government is set to expire at midnight tonight.  If an agreement is not reached by that time non-essential government operations, many that impact the horse industry and equestrians, could cease.  Should a shutdown occur, it could impact the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) response to disease outbreaks, procedures for the import and export of horses, recreation on federal land, and temporary worker programs. At this time, government agencies are still working on their shutdown plans and determining essential and non-essential operations.
One of the cornerstones of the U.S. horse industry includes the import and export of domestic and foreign horses on both a permanent and temporary basis.  The horse industry relies on USDA to maintain and operate import, export, and quarantine facilities for horses traveling into and out of the U.S.  It is unclear at this time whether USDA will deem all, part, or none of these import, export, and quarantine services to be essential and therefore continue to operate in the event of a government shutdown.
USDA is also responsible for the enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA), and because the HPA is related to law enforcement activities it is likely a significant part of USDA’s services under the HPA will continue in some fashion.
Foreign animal disease (FAD) diagnosticians and incident command system (ICS) teams will be available on a case-by-case basis to respond to equine disease outbreaks and emergency response incidents should they occur.
For a complete list of USDA shutdown contingency plans, please visit the USDA website.
Many equestrians are dependent on federal land for recreational opportunities.  In the event of a government shutdown, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor facilities on public lands.  National Forest recreation sites across the U.S., which require a government employee to stay open, would also be closed to the public.
Temporary Worker Programs 

The horse industry relies on many semi-skilled and entry-level foreign workers provided by the H-2A temporary agricultural worker and H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker programs for many of the employment needs of the horse industry.  A government shutdown could halt the processing of applications for both the H-2A and H-2B programs and delay or prevent many employers in the horse industry from obtaining workers when they are needed.
At this time, it is not certain the government will shutdown.  If a shutdown does occur it could last as little as a few hours with little impact on the industry or last several weeks with greater consequences.
If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

1099 Reporting Requirement Headed for Repeal

Via The Equiery:

The American Horse Council reports that on Monday, April 5, 2011, the U.S. Senate passed a repeal of the new 1099 reporting requirement. The House approved the same 1099 repeal bill (H.R 4), introduced by Congressman Lungren (R-CA), earlier this year. The President is expected to sign the bill into law in the next several days.  This will head off an increase in tax related paper work for horse businesses in 2012.
The 1099 paperwork mandate was a provision of the health care bill passed last year that would have imposed burdensome new tax reporting requirements on every business in the U.S., including those in the horse industry, beginning in 2012.
The bill repeals only the new broader reporting requirements.  Businesses will still have to send 1099s to independent contractors as current law requires.
The AHC supported repeal of the new 1099 reporting requirement.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (”Health Care Bill”) that was signed into law last year included a provision broadly-expanding 1099 IRS form reporting requirements starting in 2012.  Current law requires 1099s to be sent to any independent contractor that receives $600 or more from a business in a year.  The new provision would have required, starting in 2012, that 1099s be sent not only to independent contractors but also to any individual or corporation from whom a business purchased a total of $600 or more in goods or services in any given year.
Repeal of the new 1099 requirement has had Presidential and bipartisan Congressional support once its full impact on businesses was realized.
Learn more at the American Horse Council!

Monday, March 28, 2011

FYI: HB1039 Came out of Committee Fav w/ Amendments and is heading to the House Floor

via Amy Samman (MHC Legislative Committee Chair)

Committee voted it out.  Please take a look at the amendments, some are fairly significant.

HB 1039: Horse Racing – Distribution of Video Lottery Revenues

Committee Vote: 18-2

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bill Updates

via Amy Samman (MHC Legislative Committee Chair)

SB 19/HB103: Vehicle Laws - Exceptional Hauling Permits - Farm Products

·         SB 19 passed the Senate and is now in the House

·         HB 103 passed the House and is now in the Senate

SB115/HB227: Criminal Law - Animal Abuse, Neglect, or Cruelty - Conditions of Probation

·         SB 115 has passed the Senate and is set for hearing in the House Judiciary 3/31 at 1:00

·         HB 227 has passed the House and is now in the Senate

SB497: Vehicle Laws - Registration Classifications - Class G Farm or Livestock Trailer or Semitrailer

·         Passed the Senate and is now in the House

SB468/HB625: Carroll County - Deer Hunting on Private Property - Sundays

·         SB468 has passed the Senate and is set for Hearing in the House Environmental Matters Committee 3/30 at 1:00pm

·         HB 625 has passed the House and is now in the Senate

SB491: Horse Racing - Bowie Race Course Training Center - Ownership Transfer

·         Passed the Senate and is now in the House

SB839/HB 940: Counties - Kennel Licenses - Requirements for Breeders

·         SB839 has passed the Senate and is now in the House

·         HB 940 has passed the House and is now in the Senate