MDA Withdraws Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations; Department to Meet with Stakeholders and Resubmit Regulations
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today withdrew its request to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) for emergency status on the proposed changes to the Maryland Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT). This action also cancels the AELR hearing on the regulation slated for next Wednesday, August 28. MDA had petitioned the committee on July 11 to request emergency status for the regulations so that they would be in place for the fall planting season.
“In order to ensure farmers have time to adjust to the use of this new tool and to respond to questions regarding certain elements of the regulation raised by the environmental community, the Department is withdrawing the emergency regulation. The Department has decided to meet with key stakeholders and will resubmit the proposal next month,” said Secretary Hance. “The O’Malley Administration wants to be sure that the regulations are rolled out with adequate time for everyone to understand how the tool will work and what it means to an agricultural operation.”
Secretary Hance added, “We are committed to implementing the new tool in a way that is responsive to the various stakeholder concerns while also ensuring our farmers have the technical and financial resources they need to comply with new regulations.”
The Phosphorus Management Tool replaced the Phosphorus Site Index to reflect more than 10 years of new research by University of Maryland scientists in collaboration with regional and national experts. This environmental risk assessment tool is used to identify areas where excess phosphorus is present in the soil and a high potential for phosphorus loss exists. It allows users to evaluate management options that can reduce the risk of phosphorus losses from agricultural fields to nearby waterways. Revising and updating the tool is an element of Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), the federally mandated document that outlines specific steps the state will take to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The PMT is included in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual and incorporated by reference into COMAR 15.20.08.
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