Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations Published in the Maryland Register; 30-day Public Comment Period Ends May 4
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that newly proposed Maryland Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations were published in today’s Maryland Register. MDA will offer a 30-day public comment period on the proposed regulations ending May 4. The purpose of the regulations is to establish a multi-year process for farmers to transition from the Phosphorus Site Index to the Phosphorus Management Tool, which can better identify potential risk of phosphorus loss from farms.
“I thank Governor Hogan for his leadership in moving these revised regulations forward. We appreciate the agriculture and environment communities collaborating on these phosphorus regulations,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The PMT reflects our best understanding, based on a national body of science, of how phosphorus moves from farm fields into our rivers and streams. Maryland farmers have always embraced science-based policy and these regulations further demonstrate how committed Maryland farmers are to restoring our treasured Chesapeake Bay.”
The Hogan Administration and lawmakers, together with stakeholders from the agriculture and environment communities, reached consensus on the PMT regulations on March 18. As part of the consensus, two changes were made to regulations Governor Hogan proposed on February 23. The proposal that appear in the Maryland Register today maintains two key enhancements of the February proposal that were volunteered by the agricultural community. The enhancements:
- Enact an immediate ban of additional phosphorus on soils highest in phosphorus. Upon adoption of the regulations, fields with a soil Fertility Index Value (FIV) of 500 or greater will be banned from receiving additional phosphorus until the PMT is fully implemented, currently scheduled for 2022. These are the fields that are at the highest risk of phosphorus potentially leaving the farm and entering nearby waterways.
- Provide comprehensive information on soil phosphorus conditions statewide. Beginning in 2016 and every six years thereafter, soil test phosphorus data will be collected for all farms in Maryland subject to nutrient management plan requirements. This data will provide the MDA with accurate soil fertility data to monitor trends in phosphorus levels and help identify potential areas to redistribute newly available manure
Today’s proposal also includes two key changes that address concerns of legislators and the environmental community.
- The implementation schedule is more clearly defined and includes giving farmers no more than two, one-year extensions at set points. The new timeline also establishes 2024 as the deadline for full implementation.
- A new expert advisory committee will be formed to evaluate the infrastructure and capacity available to manage additional manure as farmers transition to the PMT. The advisory committee will make recommendations to the Secretary to provide any extensions and only if the infrastructure is not in place. The 20-member PMT Advisory Committee will be comprised of government, university, farmers, manure haulers, alternative use industries, biosolids, and environmental interests. Members will be appointed by the Maryland Secretary of Agriculture.
Comments on the proposal may be sent to Joseph Bartenfelder, Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, or call 410-841-5880, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax to 410-841-5914. Comments will be accepted through May 4, 2015. A public hearing has not been scheduled.
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