(Sept. 27, 2013) Farmers and other interested persons are invited to public briefings being held by the Maryland Department of Agriculture on its proposed regulations limiting the use of chicken manure as fertilizer.
During the briefings, the MDA will explain the latest revised regulations and the process that led to their development. MDA personnel will also discuss resources available to farmers to help them manage the impact of the regulations and will answer questions.
The briefings are being held to inform farmers and others of the new proposal before the 30-day public comment period, which begins with publication in the Maryland Register, which is anticipated for Oct. 18.
Worcester County officials have been concerned about the proposed limit of chicken manure because of its detrimental effect on farming and the economy. If farmers cannot use chicken manure on their fields, they would be hurt financially and that in turn would hurt the county financially.
During the Worcester County Commissioners’ Sept. 3 meeting, Commissioner Virgil Shockley, a chicken farmer, said the biggest problem with the proposed regulation is that some chicken growers do not have any land or enough land to use as a place to put the chicken manure after they remove it from their chicken houses. Those farmers might be unable to find suitable land elsewhere for the manure.
If they cannot rid the chicken houses of the manure inside, they could not get a new flock of chicks and their livelihood would be in jeopardy.
The commissioners sent an Aug. 21 letter to the MDA and state elected officials about their opposition to the proposal.
The Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review in Annapolis scheduled the proposed regulation as emergency legislation for an Aug. 28 hearing. Widespread concerns, such as those of the Worcester County Commissioners led to its postponement.
Following that postponement, the MDA scheduled the public briefings to educate stakeholders about the proposal.
The first briefing was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 25, in Walkersville. The second meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the Flanders meeting room at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury. The third briefing is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Talbot County Community Center in Easton.
For more information, contact the Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959.