As defined by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Phosphorus Management Tool, commonly known as the PMT, “analyzes areas where excess phosphorus is present in the soil and identifies where a high potential for phosphorus loss exists.” Governor Martin O’Malley and environmental advocacy organizations such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other researchers supported the new regulations, claiming they were a necessity and thus were very pleased with Gov. O’Malley’s decision to move the PMT forward on November 14, 2014.

CBF Maryland Executive Director Allison Prost said in a statement, “If we don’t approve this regulation, we are condemning the residents and businesses on the Shore to dirty water.” However, stakeholders in the poultry industry and the Maryland Farm Bureau insisted that farmers were indeed making progress in protecting the Bay.

Following his inauguration, newly elected Governor Larry Hogan initiated his own solution to the phosphorus solution problem: allow farmers more time to reduce phosphorus runoff from their farms before the implementation of the O’Malley strict plan.

Governor Hogan’s announcement was met with much outrage from Marylanders and environmentalists. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a statement saying, “The new governor rolled back 10 years of progress when he withdrew the Phosphorus Management Tool, a common sense, science-based solution to the manure crisis.”

The decision of the Hogan administration was greeted with much support from the Maryland Farm Bureau as the Farm Bureau claimed the PMT would lead to “economic catastrophe.” The Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. supported Hogan’s new plan as it would provide more time for the farmers to implement the new regulations and thus lessen the economic burden placed on farmers.

When asked about the number one issue aside from time of implementation, the Maryland Farm Bureau was troubled that “neither the Salisbury University BEACON analysis nor the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Economic report were able to assess the value per pound of Phosphorus reduced by using the Phosphorus Management Tool”

The Governor then coordinated a meeting with agricultural and environmental stakeholders to negotiate and discuss the phosphorus initiative. Gov. Hogan planned to make enhancements to the regulations that would allow more time for the farmers, but still provide a consistent effort to eliminate phosphorus runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

The Office of the Governor issued a press release with Maryland Department of Agriculture following Hogan’s meeting with various stakeholders. Secretary Joe Bartenfelder announcing, “I am excited that Maryland farmers have stepped up and proposed progressive steps that will accelerate our efforts to improve water quality while maintaining a viable industry.” The enhanced phosphorus management regulations left all parties pleased.

In an interview, CBF Senior Maryland Scientist Doug Myers said, “CBF agrees that the phasing of implementation is prudent to allow farmers enough time to make on the ground changes, the state to appropriate cost-share assistance dollars and development and commercialization of manure treatment technologies such as nutrient separation to come online.”

Myers continued to elaborate on the hard work and receptiveness of the Governor’s Office noting, “The Governor’s Office has been extremely receptive to the science of phosphorus saturation, risk, fate and transport as explained by phosphorus experts at the Phosphorus Symposium days after Governor Hogan took office and acted quickly to develop new regulations based on the agreed timeframes established by all stakeholders.”

On the same topic, the Maryland Farm Bureau said in an interview, “ [The] Maryland Farm Bureau believes that Governor Hogan and his administration have created a practical program… Our members appreciate how diligently the Governor worked with the agriculture community on this strategy to improve Bay water quality while protecting the economic viability of farm businesses.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s November 2014 PMT proposal was uncompromising at best, and catastrophic at worst. The new Agriculture Phosphorus Initiative as proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan and supported by all stakeholders was welcomed as a success in the growth of the Maryland economy while preserving a national treasure, the Chesapeake Bay.

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