Farmers and Environmentalists React to Phosphorous Management To - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Farmers and Environmentalists React to Phosphorous Management Tool Report

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 VIENNA, Md.- The Maryland Department of Agriculture released an economic impact study on the Phosphorous Management Tool Friday.  It outlines new regulations designed to reduce the risk of pollution caused by chicken litter.

Farmers are happy that time was taken to generate this report, but they are still concerned the cost of the phosphorous management tool is being taken too lightly. 

But environmentalists say this tool needs to be implemented, and soon.

William Layton got his first look at the phosphorous management tool report Friday morning.  His eyes scanning the pages, looking to see just how it could affect farmers across the shore.  He wasn't happy with what he saw.

"Bottom line is it's going to cost farmers about $22.5 million, and that's a lot of money when you look at individual farmers.  Especially when you consider each farmer is an independent business, a small business that has to come up with that money themselves.  Where is it going to come from?" asked Layton.

He says even if a farmer has to pay out $100,000 to switch from using chicken litter, that's a big financial hit.

But local environmentalist Richard Ball, who takes water samples from several tributaries across the shore, says the tool needs to be implemented quickly.

"Unless we have less phosphorous on the land, we will destroy these streams in the long run," said Ball.

He sympathizes with the farmers, but says something needs to be done.

"If the study suggests that this is feasible, and it won't destroy our economy, I say go with it right away."

But Layton says farmer's are already three years ahead of schedule when it comes to cleanup.

"Agriculture is the only area that has met their 2017 goals.  We're doing a good job, we're implementing a lot of things, so why are we being pushed on this already, with the cost to us, when we're meeting our goals and everyone else is not?" said Layton

Now that the report is out, farmers and proponents alike wonder what comes next.  Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance said Friday that has yet to be determined.

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