ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Farm Bureau board of directors met with Gov. Larry Hogan on Feb. 17 to discuss priority issues facing the farming community. The following may be attributed to Maryland Farm Bureau President Wayne Stafford:
“I am pleased with the discussion that Maryland Farm Bureau leaders had with Gov. Hogan this morning concerning the many issues that our farmers are facing. We appreciate the relationship that we have developed over the years. He has kept his promise to defend the livelihoods of our farm families and those living in rural Maryland.”
Board members addressed the following issues with the governor:
- CAFO Permitting – Farm Bureau supports the Maryland Department of the Environment’s proposed Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) regulations as currently drafted, but opposes any increases in permitting fees.
- Carbon Tax – If a carbon tax is to be levied in Maryland, Farm Bureau requests that off-road fuel be exempt from any carbon tax and that a rebate program should be established for farms working to offset carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
- Solar Siting – Farm Bureau supports the expansion of renewable energy, but opposes taking prime farmland out of production for commercial solar use.
- Agricultural Education – Farm Bureau leaders asked Gov. Hogan to support SB 986 and HB 1487, which increase agricultural education opportunities in public schools and provide grants for agricultural education teachers.
- Pesticide Usage – In lieu of a legislative ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, Farm Bureau prefers a regulatory phase-out of its use. The organization also requested that a pesticide jug recycling program be brought back for farmers to discard old pesticide containers.
- Labor – Board members asked Gov. Hogan to work with the Department of Labor to resolve issues involving minor H-2A infractions that have led to excessive fines.
- Burn Permits – Farm Bureau asked Gov. Hogan to look into some issues faced by farmers on the lower shore tearing down old buildings, as requested by the Department of Health, without providing options for the removal of building remains from private property.
- Tire Recycling – Maryland Farm Bureau would like to work with Gov. Hogan and other state agencies to develop a more reliable farm tire recycling program.
- K-Tags – Farm Bureau would like to see the development of a new special k-tag for farm trailers that only travel within a 25-mile radius of the home farm as an alternative to the more costly trailer tag that has limited use.
- Irrigation Wells – Farmers are spending thousands of dollars on exploratory efforts to determine if they can use certain aquifers for crop irrigation. Maryland Farm Bureau requested that the governor’s office work with the state Department of the Environment to better identify which aquifers can and cannot be used for these purposes.
- Wildlife Management – Farm Bureau requested that the governor consider cost-share options for deer fencing to prevent continuous crop loss and to allow bear harvests in the season that crop damage occurs.
–Emily Solis, Maryland Farm Bureau