Monday, December 17, 2012
Maryland trail riding forums, hotlines, chat rooms and social media sites have lit up with the latest localized attempt to expand Sunday hunting in Maryland.
On Wed. Dec. 19, the Howard County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly will debate whether or not to submit a bill during the 2013 legislative session that will add Howard County to the list of counties that allow, under certain provisions and conditions, deer hunting on private properties on Sundays. The counties in which Sunday hunting on private property under certain circumstances is allowed include Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester. The bill being debated is sponsored by Delegate Gail Bates and is currently titled HO.CO. 07-13 (LR 766) .
The meeting, which will be chaired by Delegate Guy Guzzone and Senator James Robey, will be Wed. Dec. 19, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Banneker Room, George Howard Building 3430 Courthouse Drive in Ellicott City. The Maryland legislative session will begin January 9, 2013.
For further information, contact Dylan Goldberg at the Howard County Delegation Office at 410-841-3360 or email@example.com or one of the following Howard County senators (for Howard County delegates, please visit the website for the Maryland General Assembly).
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R), District 9
James Senate Office Building, Room 423
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D), District 12
Miller Senate Office Building, 3 West Wing
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Sen. James N. Robey (D), District 13
James Senate Office Building, Room 120
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
"First was a video they made on public use of their watershed land and water, which I felt was very positive (starting with Terry Ledley by the Terry Ledley equestrian trail sign, and also showing Ron MacNab and other users). Later in the meeting, they presented a PowerPoint description of the study recently completed by their contractor (EA Engineering), which again sounded very positive and conciliatory. It seems that EA quite accurately reported the Access Road (aka "Firebreak" or "Jeep Trail") is substantially more of a problem than the equestrian use, and totally banning equestrian was not discussed. They said they will be having more public input meetings, soon, and then decide on a plan. They mentioned several possibilities for a future plan, some positive for equestrians (including even the chance of re-opening riding on the Access Road at the Tridelphia!) and some quite worrisome (increasing user fees to offset their expected increased costs; limiting the number of riders; only allowing organized group rides, not individual riders). We have to stay on top, and testify at those upcoming meetings , whenever they are announced!
EA Engineering's report and and WSSC's new video were just posted on WSSC homepage <http://www.wsscwater.com>. Under the tab "Our Watershed and You" is "Watershed Study", and within it, click "independent study" to get the introductory video (it can also be accessed on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RnEsvep6MQ) and to get EA's full report (downloadable, as PDF). Also, click "Read more", and under it click "Study Finding and Recommendations" to the PowerPoint presentation from Gary Gumm from this morning; or uner "Read more", click "Next Steps" to get a PowerPoint we were not shown, but basically Jay Price's part of the presentation this morning. His slide #10 summarizes the worrisome possibilities they are already suggesting.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Commissioners are expected to discuss the report at their Nov. 19 meeting at WSSC headquarters in Laurel.
The report looks at short-, medium- and long-term changes that could be made to protect the watershed, WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt said.
“There are major recommendations about security, access roads and patrolling the area,” he said.
Last year, the water and sewer utility cut back the hours and months that horseback riders and boaters could access WSSC reservoir areas as a means to reduce erosion and keep pollutants from running into the reservoir.
Horseback riders, who were upset that they received little notice and that they were rerouted from long-used, designated trails to poorly maintained access roads, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition asking the utility to let them return to the old trails.
The restrictions have remained in place while consultants for the WSSC evaluated land-management practices that are needed to foster a healthy watershed and water source.
Neustadt said the utility did not consider closing the watershed to all recreation — as WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson also said in a commentary piece appearing in this edition of The Gazette — but that the utility cannot put the interest of any group over that of customers who drink WSSC water.
Letters are being sent to stakeholders and meetings are being scheduled with environmental, community, civic and recreational groups, Neustadt said.
Those meetings will be followed by a public forum, but the utility already has gotten a lot of information from stakeholders, he said.
The utility wants to make sure that regulations are in place in time for opening the watershed to public use in the spring 2013, Neustadt said."
Monday, October 22, 2012
Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to eliminate or restrict horseback riding at the North Track in Laurel
The Fish and Wildlife Surface is seeking public comments on three alternative proposals that will affect riding at North Track for the next fifteen years. One alternative would eliminate horseback riding at North Track in Laurel (near Fort Meade). The other would require use of a horse diaper or dismounting and removing manure from the trail. It also prohibits trotting and cantering.Fish and Wildlife is seeking public input.Two public meetings are scheduled for this Monday and Tuesday.TONIGHT, Oct. 22nd @ 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.National Wildlife Visitor Center10901 Scarlet Tanger LoopLaurel, MD 20708TOMORROW, Oct. 23rd @ 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.Chesapeake Bay Field Office177 Admiral Cochrane DriveAnnapolis, MD 21401It is important that trail riders attend in numbers to present a unified point of view. I do not believe that Fish and Wildlife is anti-horse. I do believe they do not understand the burden of these requirements nor the miniscule benefits to be obtained.Comments can be sent (until November 26) to:
Bill Perry, Natural Resource Planner
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | 300 Westgate Center Drive | Hadley, MA 0103(write "Patuxent CCP" in the subject line)For details on the alternative plans, visit the following links:http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/news/community/ph-ll-pax-wildlife-plan-20121016,0,2060327.storyChapter 3 page 97Appendix C pages 48-56
Friday, October 19, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
Nutrient management changes in a nutshell:
Rules apply only to those who have must have Nutrient Management Plans (8 or more animal units for livestock operations; $2500 or more gross annual income for crop operations)
Manure can be spread on hay and pasture land from March 1 through November 15 through 2015. After July 1, 2016, manure can be spread March 1 through November 1 east of the Bay, and through November 15 west of the Bay. Note gap between December 31, 2015 and July 1, 2016.
No spreading in winter (from above Fall end dates through February 28. Does not apply to manure deposited by livestock.
Dairy or livestock operations with less than 50 animal units have until February 28, 2020 to comply with winter application ban.
Horse manure may be stacked in fields temporarily, subject to certain requirements. Note no definition of “temporary;” previous limit of 120 days of stockpiling has been removed.
For pastures and hayfields - 10 foot setback from surface water and streams. No manure may be spread of deposited by livestock.
For sacrifice lots (less than 75% vegetative cover)- 35 foot setback.
Stream fencing or other plan developed with Soil Conservation that includes BMP’s such as stream crossings, alternative watering facilities, pasture management or other BMP’s that are equally protective of water quality.
Stream crossings must have sediment and erosion control.
Stream crossing wider than 12 feet must be gated. Livestock may be allowed controlled access to streams for watering.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
MD Dept. Of Agriculture finalizes proposed changes to Manure Management Regulations - to take effect October 15
For more information, see previous blogposts on July 10 and August 20, 2012.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
On September 10, 2012, Maryland's highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals, heard oral arguments on whether the court should overturn Maryland's contributory negligence standard for negligence cases, which provides that a defendant cannot be held liable for damages if the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to any degree to his injuries. In the case of James K. Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, et al., the Court considered whether contributory negligence should continue to be the law in this state, or whether the state should switch to a comparative negligence standard.
In the Coleman case, the plaintiff was injured when the soccer goal he jumped on and attempted to swing from, but which was not properly secured, fell over on him. The jury in Howard County found that the Soccer Association of Columbia, which maintained the goal, was negligent. However, the jury also found that Mr. Coleman was contributorily negligent, or partially at fault (because he was using the goal improperly), and therefore, Mr. Coleman was barred from recovery.
Contributory negligence is a principle that completely bars a plaintiff’s recovery if the plaintiff's actions in any way contributed to his injury, even if those actions were only a minor cause of the injury. The contributory negligence standard is an historic legal principle that remains in effect in only five jurisdictions in the United States: Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and Alabama.
Most states have adopted the "more modern" comparative negligence standard in which in any case alleging negligence the fault of all parties is compared. These states employ varying schemes but in general, the plaintiff's recovery is not blocked by a finding of his own negligence, but that finding is taken into account in determining how much he can recover.
The Court of Appeals heard arguments from the parties, as well as several national groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Association and American Insurance Association. A Washington Post article about the case suggests that the court may be willing to overturn the current standard and adopt comparative negligence. In that event there would most likely be legislative initiatives in Annapolis to overturn the court's ruling and return to the contributory negligence standard. The Maryland legislature has never supported any legislative attempts to install the comparative negligence standard.
The Maryland Horse Council supports continuing the contributory negligence standard, which historically has provided good protection for horse owners and horse business owners against claims of negligence. Switching to a comparative negligence standard would result in more awards of damages, which would in turn likely cause insurance premiums to rise.
The Court of Appeals decision is pending. Stay tuned!
Monday, August 20, 2012
To learn more about the proposed changes to the manure and nutrient management laws, attend the Maryland Horse Council meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, August 21st at the New Market Grange Hall at 14 South Alley (South Alley & 7th Alley) New Market, MD 21774. Refreshments will be served at 6 p.m., the meeting starts at 7 p.m. Sen. David Brinkley and a representative of MDA will be in attendance to address this topic. The meeting is free and open. MHC membership is not required.
Comments on 15.20.07 Agricultural Operation Nutrient Management Plan Requirements
The Maryland Horse Council represents the 40,000 Maryland citizens who are part of the state’s horse industry. Our Farm Stewardship Committee is an effort by horse farm owners to better understand the impact of their farms on the environment, improve environmental practices, and demonstrate to the public that well managed horse farms and the pastures and hay fields that support them make a positive contribution to efforts to reduce nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.
It was an honor to be asked by Governor O’Malley to participate as one of the five representatives of agriculture in his staff’s attempt to forge a consensus on these regulations with five representatives of environmental organizations. While that effort did not change opinions on the regulations at hand, our hope is that it helped to forge relationships that will be the foundation for future cooperation.
The state’s 79,100 horses reside on 16,040 separate properties that total 587,000 acres. While these regulations are primarily an attempt to address nutrient runoff from large livestock and grain operations, the largest number of individuals who will have to comply are small horse farm owners who rarely fertilize and whose manure piles consist primarily of hay and straw.
Many horse farms owners have not yet come into compliance with existing nutrient management requirements. Small horse farm operators do not often participate in government farm programs of any kind, and convincing them that a nutrient management plan is a useful tool that can improve their pastures was difficult before the proposed changes. If the new regulations take effect the incentive for farms to stay outside the program will be much greater.
Limitations on winter spreading of straw or shavings mixed with horse manure
We believe that the ban on spreading horse manure mixed with bedding on fields during the winter months is not only a burden on farms that have no appropriate stacking sites, but also is a threat to our waterways.
Horse farm owners have been told for years that harrowing their pastures spreads manure piles so that the nutrients can benefit the soil. Likewise, they have been taught that the mix of manure with straw or shavings that is evenly and lightly spread across pastures by their manure spreaders is good for soil and better for our streams than stockpiling the manure and creating rivers of brown water during heavy rains.
These new regulations tell us that we can no longer use our manure spreaders during the winter months that our animals are kept in barns and our pastures turn to mud. We are allowed to keep our horses outside, where they destroy the roots of our pastures and deposit their manure, but we are not allowed to keep them in stalls and put that same manure mixed with straw or shavings evenly across the ground
with spreaders where it can soak into the soil under light winter rains and melting snow and improve soil quality for spring and summer pasture growth. The heavier manure spreading that farmers would do in early spring in order to dispose of the full winter’s manure stockpile is an environmental threat when heavy spring rains wash the manure into adjacent streams.
For the majority of small horse farms that do not have appropriate places to stockpile a winters’ worth of manure, the new version of the Nutrient Management Program is a threat to the viability of their operations. The cost of transporting manure by trucks to off-site composting facilities is prohibitive for most farms and the impact to the environment is negative.
Nobody in the scientific or environmental community has shown that leaving horses out during the winter is better for water quality in adjacent streams than spreading the bedding and manure that comes form those same animals when kept off the fields in barns. Water quality testing in years when manure is spread in winter months could easily be compared to water quality tests from years when manure is not spread in winter months. Until such comparative testing has shown a negative impact from the manure spreading we believe that forcing horse farm owners to truck or stockpile their manure is bad public policy. Horse farm owners should be allowed to spread manure year-round with reasonable limitations on spreading rates.
Fencing Horses Out of Streams
Horses do not wallow in streams any more than deer or other wildlife. Any trail rider will swear to the fact that horses hate putting their feet in mud.
A number of horse farm owners have calculated the cost of separating their horses from streams that run through their pastures but that they never enter. These tend to be the large farms with the best pastures. These are the farms that fertilize the least and are an asset to the waterways that run through them. Nobody believes that fencing these streams out of the pastures will make the water in them any cleaner, but the proposed regulations would force these farm owners to do just that at $8 per foot. One of the best managed farms in our state had an estimate of $60,000 to fence out its streams, and others in the same county came in at over $100,000.
Soil Conservation District staff can tell when animals are causing erosion problems in streams and affecting water quality. We support efforts to address those problems. We do not, however, support a regulation such as the one proposed that arbitrarily states that every farm that has a stream running through a pasture is outside the law.
We understand that politics drives policy, and that non-farmers have made an argument that farm animals are polluting our waterways. Those well-meaning advocates are demanding that laws be passed to criminalize farm practices that have not been shown to have a negative impact on the environment.
We applaud Governor O’Malley’s defense of farmers when we are blamed for pollution and we applaud his work to preserve both farmland and the Chesapeake Bay. We are working hard to sell the Nutrient Management Plan as an effective pasture management tool for horse farm owners. We understand that horses can create erosion and that overgrazing is the real issue that horse farm owners must address if we seek to shrink our environmental footprint.
Forcing us to fence out streams that our horses never step in and stockpile or truck manure that could improve the quality of our soils are both expensive and pointless exercises that discourage farm owners from working with their soil conservation districts and investing in the kinds of best management practices that are known to prevent erosion and sediment loss.
We join Maryland Farm Bureau and others in the agricultural community in asking that the state of Maryland continue its present efforts to bring farmers into compliance with the more reasonable Nutrient Management Plan regulations already in effect and work with the MHC Farm Stewardship Committee to promote BMPs on horse farms and thereby improve our chances of meeting the goals set in all of our county Watershed Implementation Plans.
Please call on the Maryland Horse Council for input on these and other issues that affect horse farms. We are working hard to preserve the land and the jobs that the horse industry maintains in Maryland, and will continue to advocate in good faith with our partners in state government toward that end.
President, Maryland Horse Council
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
MDA has now reissued the proposal, after hearing and considering the concerns of various stake holders. Below is a summary of the provisions of most interest to horse owners. MDA will hold public meetings in four locations around the state in July, to accept public comment. All meetings will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. For more information, contact the Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959.
North Central Maryland Western Maryland
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Harford Community College Washington County Agricultural Education Center
Amoss Center 7313 Sharpsburg Place
401 Thomas Run Road Boonsboro, MD 21733
Bel Air, MD 21015
Eastern Shore Southern Maryland
Monday, July 23, 2012 Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Talbot Community Center Calvert County Fairgrounds
10028 Ocean Gateway 140 Calvert Fair Drive
Easton, MD 21601 Prince Frederick, MD 20610
The draft regulations were published in the Maryland Register on June 29, 2012. To read the proposed regulations online visit the Maryland Register at: http://www.dsd.state.md.us/MDRegister/3913.pdf or MDA’s website: http://www.mda.maryland.gov/pdf/proposednmregs2.pdf.
Written comments may be sent to:
Jo A. Mercer, Ed.D.
MDA’s Nutrient Management Program
Maryland Department of Agriculture
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway
Annapolis, MD 21401,
or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax to (410) 841-5950.
Comments will be accepted through August 13, 2012
Now here is the summary:
The proposed changes to the Nutrient Management regulations concerning manure management and stream fencing include the following:
1. Changes to timing and rates of manure spreading and winter application ban
· Spring and Summer (March 1 - September 9) application of organic nutrients must be injected or incorporated within 48 hours of application unless one of the following conditions apply:
a. Livestock manures deposited directly by animals.
b. Permanent pastures.
c. Land used for hay production.
[This is unchanged from the previous draft.]
· New [as compared to previous draft] definition of “fall” for application purposes –
a. For the years 2012 through 2015, nutrients applied from September 10 through November 15.
b. After July 1, 2016, nutrients applied in counties east of the Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna River from September 10 through November 1.
c. After July 1, 2016, nutrient applied in counties west of the Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna River from September 10 through November 15.
[Note that there is an unregulated gap between January 1 and July 1, 2016.]
· Organic fertilizers in the fall – Except poultry litter, organic nutrient sources may be used in the fall for an existing crop or one to be planted in the fall or the following spring (before June 1) using rate restrictions outlined in Section 1-B of the Manual.
· The same incorporation/injection provisions and exceptions apply for organic nutrient application in the fall as were outlined in the spring/summer section above.
· Emergency applications in the event of an imminent overflow of a storage facility shall be managed in consultation with MDA.
[For Fall applications, the new version makes clear that manure can be spread on hay and pasture land. There is no mention of the “only if inadequate storage” requirement that was in the previous version.]
· “Winter” as defined for application of nutrients is November 16th through February 28th, but beginning July 1, 2016 the definition will be November 2nd through February 28th east of the Bay.
· The regulations ban the application of organic material in the winter.
· The winter application ban does not apply to manure deposited by livestock.
· After July 1, 2016 there is a ban on organic application in the winter except for a dairy or livestock operation with less than 50 animal units (fewer than 130 dairies in MD) or a municipal wastewater treatment plant with flow capacity of less than 0.5 million gallons per day (9 towns in MD). These operations have until February 28, 2020 to observe the winter application ban.
[The winter provisions are unchanged from the prior version, except for the extension to 2020 for operations with fewer than 50 animal units.]
2. Requirements for storage and handling of organic nutrient sources (manures, litter & sewage sludge)
· Field storage – Stackable (including horse) manures (less than 60% moisture content) may be stored in fields temporarily when no other storage option is available .
· Conditions for field storage include:
Storage must be at least 35 feet from surface water and any irrigation or treatment ditch with vegetated buffer or at least 100 feet with no buffer; at least 100 feet from wells, springs or wetlands - but, if the well is down gradient, the distance must be at least 300 feet; 200 feet from any residence other than the property owner; outside flood prone areas subject to ponding; and if located on more than a 3% slope with no diversion installed, no farther than 150 feet from the top of the slope.
· Poultry litter and other material must be stacked 6 feet high and peaked, and staged in a manner to prevent runoff.
· Temporary storage for future piles should stay in the same place.
· All nutrients in temporary stockpiling must be removed completely and the ground scraped and reseeded if necessary to restore to original condition.
[There appear to be no changes in the field storage provision from the previous version, except that the reference to the limit of 120 days of stockpiling has been removed.]
3. Setbacks for the application of nutrients by machine and livestock - Effective January 1, 2014
· For pastures and hayfields: 10-foot setback from surface water, perennial streams and intermittent streams (defined as a stream or the reach of a stream that is below the water table for at least some part of the year, and obtains its flow from surface runoff and ground water discharge). No manure may be spread or deposited by livestock. Ephemeral streams (flow only in direct response to precipitation in the immediate watershed and have a channel bottom that is always above the local water table) and irrigation and treatment ditches are exempt.
· 10-foot setback may not include plants that would be considered part of the crop grown in the field, except perennial forage for hay or pasture.
· Stream fencing at least 10-feet from the stream bank is required to keep livestock out of streams, unless a farmer works with the Soil Conservation District to develop and implement a Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plan that includes BMPs such as stream crossings, alternative watering facilities, pasture management and other MDA-approved BMPs that are equally protective of water quality and stream health. Operators are required to gate crossing areas wider than 12-feet. Operators may allow livestock controlled access to streams for watering in accordance with NRCS standards.
· Stream Crossings for movement of livestock – Operators are responsible for sediment and erosion control of stream crossing areas. Operators are required to move livestock from one side of a stream to the other only through stream crossings designed to prevent erosion and sediment loss.
· Alternatives to the nutrient application setback may be approved by MDA if they are equally protective of water quality and stream health.
· 35-foot setback on sacrifice lots (less than 75% grass or grass legume mix)
[The opportunity to work out alternatives to stream fencing and setbacks with the Soil Conservation District is new to this draft.
Although they do not have the force of law, guidances help the field offices apply the law. This draft guidance interprets several recent court decisions, especially as to how to decide if bodies of water are covered by the CWA. It discusses "navigable and interstate waters," but also discusses whether and how other wet areas (e.g., wetlands, tributaries, etc.) might be considered to be covered by the CWA, and therefore subject to regulation by EPA. See page 5 of the document for a summary of key points.
EPA has stated its intent to finalize the documents based on comments received, and then to begin a rule making to incorporate it into EPA regulations. Comments can be submitted directly to the EPA and/or to US Senators and Representatives.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Patuxent Watershed Study
c/o EA Engineering, Science and Technology
15 Loveton Circle
Sparks, MD 21152
To: Patuxent Study Team:
I am the Vice President of the Maryland Horse Council, which is the trade association representing Maryland's equestrian farms, businesses, interest associations and enthusiasts. Together, our membership represents over 30,000 Marylanders, many of whom live, own property and/or ride in the Patuxent Watershed.
We are aware of the recent actions taken by the WSSC to restrict public access to its watershed lands. We are very interested in your study and welcome the opportunity to express our views on its scope and conduct, as well as on the historic importance of the watershed to equestrian users - and, we would argue, on the importance of equestrian users to the watershed.
Horse back riders and other recreational users have had access to these lands for generations. They have in many cases taken on the role of volunteer stewards of the land and water, and it can be said that their routine presence as eyes and ears “on the ground” has contributed vastly to the security of the water, the land and the public at large.
In this time when citizen confidence in government and public institutions is at historic lows, it is imperative that the conduct of this study be transparent, objective and grounded in observable fact and provable data. If adverse impact by recreational users including horseback riders cannot be proven by clear and verifiable facts, the recently imposed restrictions should not continue.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 22, 2012) – Proposed changes to Maryland’s Nutrient Management Regulations were submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) for review today, announced Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. Following months of negotiations with stakeholder groups, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has finalized its new rules for the use of manure, biosolids and other organic nutrient sources on crop fields. The goal of the process is to achieve consistency in the way all sources of nutrients are managed. Once the proposed changes are published in the Maryland Register, MDA will provide public notice and offer a 45-day public comment period.
In crafting the nutrient management regulations, Maryland has considered recommendations of Governor Martin O’Malley’s BayStat Science Panel as well as concerns raised by environmental, agricultural and municipal stakeholders.
“The revised regulations strike a balance between maximizing water quality benefits, addressing the practical needs of implementing requirements in the field, and assuring economic impacts are manageable,” said Secretary Hance. “When taken as a whole, the revised regulations will advance agricultural water quality management far beyond any efforts existing in other jurisdictions.”
Ultimately, the new regulations are designed to help Maryland meet nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals spelled out in its Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. Once approved, the proposed changes will be included in MDA’s Nutrient Management Manual. Following are key features of the new regulations:
Beginning July 1, 2016, nutrient applications will be prohibited between November 1 and March 1 for Eastern Shore farmers and between November 15 and March 1 for Western Shore farmers.
Organic nutrients will need to be incorporated into the soil within 48 hours of application.
Farmers will be required to plant cover crops when they use organic nutrient sources in the fall.
Beginning 2014, farmers will be required to establish a 10 to 35 foot “no fertilizer application zone” adjacent to surface water and streams.
Beginning 2014, farmers will be required to protect streams from livestock traffic by providing fencing or approved alternative best management practices.
Fall fertilizer applications for small grains will be limited.
Guidance and clarification is provided on the use of soil amendments and soil conditioners.
“The implementation schedule addresses a major stakeholder concern and should provide farmers and local governments with adequate time to comply with the new regulations and to apply for cost-share funding to install additional best management practices,” said Secretary Hance. “The O’Malley Administration is committed to providing farmers with the critical financial resources necessary to meet our shared environmental goals.”
The Nutrient Management Advisory Committee has been working on the revised regulations for more than a year. The new rules were originally introduced last fall; however, due to overwhelming feedback Governor O’Malley asked that the proposed regulations be placed on hold to provide an additional opportunity for stakeholders to further discuss the proposal.
If the AELR Committee approves the proposed regulatory changes, they will be published in the Maryland Register for a 45-day public comment period. After the comment period closes, MDA will review any comments. If MDA makes substantive changes as a result of the public comment, the revised regulations will be resubmitted to the AELR and the Maryland Register.
Established in 1998 to develop and refine regulations and requirements for Maryland's Nutrient Management Program, the 16-member Nutrient Management Advisory Committee includes representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, MDA, University of Maryland, Maryland departments of the Environment and Natural Resources, Maryland Farm Bureau, Delaware-Maryland Agribusiness Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, commercial lawn care companies, the biosolids industry, as well as local governments and the state legislature.
A summary of the MDA’s proposed changes submitted to AELR is available online at www.mda.maryland.gov/pdf/proposednmregs2.pdf.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
On February 21, 2012 the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule concerning the H-2B temporary guest worker program. This new rule, which will go into effect on April 23, 2012, will make significant changes to the way the H-2B program operates for all employers including those in the horse industry.
“Anyone in the horse industry who uses the H-2B program needs to be aware of this new rule. It makes major changes to the responsibilities of employers using the program and if the new guidelines aren’t followed employers could be fined and barred from using the program,” said AHC President Jay Hickey.
The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities.
The AHC believes the new rule will make the H-2B program more costly and burdensome for employers who are forced to use the program and has opposed the new rule. “It is unfortunate the DOL decide to finalize this rule,” said AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass. “This rule will make it difficult for trainers and others in the horse industry to use the program and could impact American jobs. The current rule was working well for the industry and included many protections for foreign and American workers.”
The final rule, among other things, will:
- Require an employer to pay most inbound and outbound travel expenses for H-2B workers.
- Extend H-2B program benefits, such as reimbursement of transportation cost, to American “corresponding workers” that work alongside H-2B workers and perform substantially the same work.
- Require employers to provide documentation that they have taken appropriate steps to recruit U.S. workers, rather than permitting employers to attest to such compliance.
- Increase the amount of time employers must try to recruit U.S. workers.
- Prohibit job contractors from using the program.
- Define temporary need as 9 months, previously it was 10 months.
- Define full time employment as 35 hours a week, previously it was 30 hours.
“This final rule is complex and has many new provisions and changes. If you are an employer who uses the program you should review the new guidelines and contact the lawyer or agent you use to process H-2B applications to ensure you are in compliance with the new rule when it goes into effect on April 23,” said Pendergrass.
DOL guidance and the complete rule can be found here on DOL’s website.
“Many Members of Congress are also displeased with this new rule and believe it could hurt industries in their states. The AHC is going to continue to work with those Members to try and roll back this new rule. Unfortunately, gridlock in Washington will prevent any quick action by Congress and the horse industry will have to comply with the new rule for the foreseeable future,” said Hickey.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 2012
A House-Senate conference committee will meet very soon to work out a final budget for Maryland through June 2013.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Testimony of MHC in support of HB 680 - Development of Guidelines to Incorporate Sustainable Agriculture Education
Testimony of the Maryland Horse Council
before the Maryland House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee
in Support of House Bill 680
Education-Development of Guidelines to Incorporate Sustainable Agriculture Education
The Maryland Horse Council (MHC) is the umbrella trade association of the entire horse industry in Maryland. Our membership includes horse farms, horse related businesses, individual enthusiasts and breed, interest and discipline associations. As such, we represent over 30,000 Marylanders who make their living with horses, or just own and love them.
MHC, through its work uniting, educating and speaking for the Maryland horse industry is very aware that today’s youth is increasingly divorced from and unaware of the natural world, how it works, and the role that it plays in our lives. We believe that children really need to learn how food, fiber and livestock, and the agricultural land that nurtures and sustains them, are grown, cared for, maintained and harvested in a way that preserves these resources for generations to come.
MHC supports HB 680 Education-Development of Guidelines to Incorporate Sustainable Agriculture Education, and urges the Committee to report it favorably.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
House of Delegates considering changing language in some current law from animal "owners" to animal "guardians"
Via the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association: The Maryland House of Delegates' Environmental Matters Committee is currently considering legislation, HB 912, that would change terminology referring to the relationship between humans and domestic animals from animal and "owner" to animal and "guardian." Both the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association strongly oppose this legislation.
"Guardian" is a legal term that has significant legal implications and repercussions, including giving animal legal standing as "wards" rather than property. MVMA and AVMA have authored a joint statement on HB 912 listing the adverse affects of "guardianship" on animal owners, service providers, society and animals. They will also testify before the Environmental Matters Committee at its hearing on the bill on March 1.
Click here to see the MVMA/AVMA Joint Statement on HB 912
Click here to see the full text of HB 912
Click here to see the roster of Environmental Matters Committee members
Monday, February 13, 2012
Chair: Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. Vice Chair: Kathleen M. Dumais
Tiffany S. Alston, Curt Anderson, Sam Arora, Jill P. Carter, Luke H. Clippinger, Jr., John W. E. Cluster, Jr., Frank M. Conaway, Jr., Don Dwyer, Jr., Michael J. Hough, Kevin Kelly, Susan C. Lee, Susan K. McComas ,Michael A. McDermott, Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., Neil C. Parrott, Luiz R. S. Simmons, Michael D. Smigiel, Sr., Kris Valderrama, Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher
Chair: Brian E. Frosh Vice Chair: Lisa A. Gladden
James Brochin, Joseph M. Getty, Jennie M. Forehand, Nancy Jacobs, Victor Ramirez, Jamie Raskin, Christopher B. Shank, Norman R. Stone, Jr. Bobby Zirkin