MDA Withdraws Proposed Fertilizer Regulations - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

MDA Withdraws Proposed Fertilizer Regulations

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SHARPTOWN, Md. - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has been in the spotlight over recent proposed regulations on phosphorous levels, something which could have a negative impact on farmers on Delmarva.

However, on Friday the department announced it would withdraw the regulations before it would be voted on.

This follows two rounds of public hearings, in which hundreds of people from the poultry industry showed up to display their disapproval of the change.

This change does not necessarily mean the end of the debate over Phosphorous regulations. The department said it will continue to meet with stakeholders in order to revise the regulations. Then it plans to resubmit the plan as soon as 2014.  

The two meetings took place in October, one of which was in Wicomico County, and the other of which was in Talbot County. At both meetings, there were close to 500 people.

One man who was at both meetings was Kevin Anderson, a farmer from Princess Anne.

"It was really a good feeling to see the agriculture community come together," he said as he looked over his medium-sized farm.

Anderson is the president of the Maryland Grain Producers Association, and was able to sit down at the negotiation table with the Department of Agriculture. He said he was against the regulation because he thought it would be a strain on many farmers' wallets.

"The cost in meeting these requirements would have been astronomical," he said. 

The regulations would essentially limit the amount of phosphorous that would be allowed on farmland. This would matter for farmers because phosphorous is the primary ingredient in chicken manure.

If these limitations were initiated, farmers would be forced to turn to more costly commercial fertilizers. Anderson said this would have an effect on the smaller farms, some of which have been around for generations.

"It fostered an environment where the larger farmers got bigger and the family farms got kicked out," said Anderson. 

According to the Department of Agriculture, this regulation is important though in order to protect the environment. Leader say excess phosphorous levels can be damaging to bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay. If phosphorous levels grow at an accelerated level, it can lead to algae booms that can be damaging to the wildlife, and Maryland is forced to live by more stringent standards because of their close proximity to the iconic Chesapeake Bay.

Despite all of this concern, Anderson said that these regulations must be avoided, because it would have negative effects on the regional scale.

"The poultry industry is a three legged stool," he said. "And Maryland is one of those three legs. And when you pull that one leg out it would have devastating effects to Delaware and Virginia."

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