December 18, 2019 – Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., the Maryland Farm Bureau, and the Maryland Grain Producers Association voted not to request a delay in implementing the next phase of the Maryland Phosphorous Management Tool (PMT). All three groups are represented on the advisory committee studying how the state should move forward with this regulation. The committee voted not to recommend a delay when it met Dec. 13, and our votes made us part of the majority vote. Our recommendation goes to the desk of Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture for his consideration in making a final decision by December 31, 2019.
Our three groups do share some of the real concerns about resources and infrastructure available to move forward with implementation of the PMT. These concerns were highlighted in a study by Salisbury University’s BEACON which indicated that it could take up to $10 million in resources to implement the PMT. Even so, we believe requesting a delay was not the best decision we could make for our members. We have known the PMT was coming for several years now but the infrastructure to handle the storage, transport and application of manure and replacement with synthetic fertilizer have not ramped up because there has not been the demand. Unless the next phase of the PMT is implemented, we will not know what our members need to move forward.
We believe an action plan to help farmers adapt to implementation of the PMT is the most important next step. There is no doubt there will be additional fields throughout the state, especially on the lower Eastern Shore, that will not be able to apply animal manure, and that manure will have to move to other areas that can properly use it as the valuable organic nutrient source it is. Farmers, chicken companies, agribusiness, manure brokers and the state government must work together to meet the challenges PMT implementation presents. When we succeed, we can make a case for freedom to operate in a business climate where phosphorus runoff is being properly addressed and managed to benefit the environment and protect water quality.
As one of our members said the other day, “farmers will figure it out.” She is right – that is what farmers have always done. But we will do all we can to make sure farmers aren’t alone in figuring it out. We are committed to ensuring the resources are available to keep our farmers successful throughout implementation of the PMT. This is a team effort.
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.
Maryland Farm Bureau
Lenny “Evan” Miles, Jr.
Maryland Grain Producers Association