At the Maryland Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention today, Maryland Governor-Elect Larry Hogan vowed to fight against the state’s proposed phosphorus management tool (PMT) regulations.
CPR President and University of Maryland law professor Rena Steinzor reacted to Hogan’s comments, “It’s truly a shame that Governor-elect Hogan is indicating so early that he is willing to jeopardize the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay by rejecting pollution controls out of hand rather than working with scientists to improve them. As the Governor-elect will soon discover, farmers have an interest in minimizing the use of excess fertilizer because it is as expensive as it is unnecessary. Large animal feeding operations looking for a cheap way to dispose of manure by dumping it on the ground year round, even in the dead of winter, may have an economic interest in defeating these controls. But for the rest of us, dead zones in the Bay are an economic, as well as a recreational, disaster.”
Today, CPR and the Chesapeake Commons released new interactive map that demonstrates that all but one industrial-scale chicken farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore reported having at least one field saturated with “excessive” soil phosphorus from the spreading of manure. The farmer-reported data comes from the Maryland Department of the Environment.
New, science-based regulations would limit phosphorus application on farms with excessive soil phosphorus readings. The map, which shows soil phosphorus FIVs on fields on which farmers spread manure, demonstrates that the proposed and widely phosphorus management tool (PMT) desperately needed.
“Maryland has a huge stake in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and it won’t get there without addressing the phosphorus pollution running off of farms,” said Steinzor, “The overwhelming phosphorus saturation along the Eastern Shore, which comes from the farmers themselves, cannot be ignored and Governor-elect Larry Hogan should reverse his opposition to the PMT for the good of the Chesapeake Bay and the millions of people who rely on this national treasure.”
Maryland already derives billions of dollars from the Bay, mainly from tourism, and stands to gain $4.6 billion more annually once the watershed is restored, according to a Chesapeake Bay Foundation report As part of the Chesapeake Bay-wide pollution diet, a federally led plan to restore the health of the Bay by 2025, Maryland must dramatically reduce water pollutants, including phosphorus. It will not be able to do this without dealing with its excess manure problem. As it stands now, Maryland farms contribute 53 percent of the state’s total phosphorus loading into the Bay, and CAFOs make up a significant part of the problem.