Agricultural Certainty Regulations Published In Maryland Register; Public Comment Period Ends Nov. 17
ANNAPOLIS, MD – New Agricultural Certainty Program regulations were published in today’s Maryland Register and are open for public comment through November 17, announced the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). The purpose of the voluntary program is to accelerate the implementation of best management practices to meet state agricultural nutrient and sediment reduction goals, while providing farmers with a predictable regulatory environment.
“The new Agricultural Certainty Program is a great opportunity for farmers who want to continue their strong environmental stewardship efforts under a predictable regulatory environment for a set period of time,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “It’s a win for everyone because voluntary participation in the program helps to accelerate the implementation of advance best management practices with the end result of improved water quality.”
The program, developed with input from an advisory committee representing all stakeholders and consensus from the Maryland Department of the Environment, will allow farmers who voluntarily implement best management practices (BMPs) to restore and maintain water quality for the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers and streams to be certified for 10 years. During those 10 years, farms are not subject to new state and local nutrient and sediment reduction requirements. After 10 years, farmers will have to be in full compliance with all regulations in effect at that time.
The proposed regulations explain the requirements, responsibilities and benefits for agricultural operators who participate in the Agricultural Certainty Program. They also explain the requirements for individuals who verify certainty compliance and the responsibilities of MDA when administering this program.
The Maryland Agricultural Certainty Program was supported by the O’Malley Administration, and passed during the 2013 legislative session (SB 1029). An oversight committee, appointed in June 2013 by Secretary Hance, developed the regulations necessary to implement the program and will continue to evaluate the program and make recommendations for moving forward.
Comments about the regulations may be sent through Nov. 17 to Louise Lawrence, Chief, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Office of Resource Conservation, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, or call 410-841-5873, or email to Louise.Lawrence@maryland.gov, or fax to 410-841-5734. A public hearing has not been scheduled.
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