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MDA PROPOSES CHANGES TO THE PHOSPHORUS MANAGEMENT TOOL; 30-Day Public Comment Period Open through Nov. 18

Cover Crop AerialsANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that proposed changes to the Maryland Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) were published in today’s Maryland Register. MDA will offer a 30-day public comment period on the proposed changes ending November 18.

“I appreciate that so many farmers attended and participated in the three public briefings about the Phosphorus Management Tool and look forward to receiving public comments through November 18,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “If people have concerns, we want to hear about it. If people can provide examples and data on how the new tool will impact them, we need to hear that too. We remain committed to implementing the new tool in a way that is responsive to various concerns and ensuring our farmers have the technical and financial resources they need to comply with new regulations.”

The Phosphorus Management Tool replaces 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. It only applies on farms where soil phosphorus has a Fertility Index Value (FIV) of 150 or more. 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.

The proposal published today reflects the most recent changes made after an earlier version was met with concerns from the agriculture and environmental communities. The PMT was originally published in the Maryland Register on January 25, 2013. MDA had petitioned the committee on July 11 to request emergency status for the proposed changes to the PMT regulations so that they would be in place for the fall planting season. The Emergency Request was within drawn in late August, leading to the current proposal.

The proposal as submitted to AELR, along with the Extension Bulletin to be incorporated by reference in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual are available online. A fact sheet “AgBrief: Phosphorous Management Tool – An Overview of the Proposed Regulations” is also available online.

Comments may be sent to Earl F. Hance, Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, or email to Earl.Hance@maryland.gov, or fax to 410-841-5914. Comments will be accepted through November 18, 2013. A public hearing has not been scheduled.

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Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

Megan Guilfoyle
Public Information Officer
Telephone: 410-841-5889

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