Happy Friday everyone (or Saturday if you get this emailed to you the day after) and hopefully everyone has survived the snow and cold weather we have had this week. Below are some news updates you might want to keep on your radar.
New ALEI Publication Released. Sarah Everhart has completed a publication covering when do government inspectors have a right to come on your property. This is a topic we are often asked about on many occasions and Sarah has done an excellent job laying out the basics of when the government can come on your property. The publication is titled When Can the Government Enter Your Farm?.
PMT bill introduced in Legislature. Sen. Paul Pinsky, of Prince Georges County is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 257 which, in essence, mimics the PMT rules, regulations and authority that O’Malley shepherded through the legislature and which Hogan pulled off the legislative table. It is slated for a hearing Feb. 24 before the Senate Education, Health ad Environmental Affairs Committee at 1 p.m. Seven members representing a majority of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee were among the 14 co-sponsors of SB 257. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2015RS/bills/sb/sb0257f.pdf
CSA Workshops. Have you registered yet for the upcoming CSA workshops? http://bit.ly/ARECCSA
FAA Releases Commercial Drone Regulations. The proposed rules allow Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to fly during the day if they weigh up to 55 pounds (25 kg), stay below 500 feet (152 m) in the air, and fly less than 100 mph (160 km/h). Other restrictions include: the drone must be in the pilot’s sight at all times, and must be operated by a person not younger than 17 years old, who has passed an aeronautics test. The FAA’s draft regulations are not final and will go through a 60-day comment period, during which the public and businesses would be able share their thoughts on the rules. But, according to some reports, the whole process could take at least 18 months before the guidelines are finalized. http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/2120-AJ60_NPRM_2-15-2015_joint_signature.pdf. Southeast Farm Press has a good article on what producers need to know about the proposed regs here http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/what-know-about-faa-s-proposed-new-drone-rules.
Pollinator Protection Act. Delegate Anne Healey and Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam have introduced the Pollinator Protection Act. The act would require warning labels on seeds, materials, or plants that have been treated with a neonicotinoid pesticide and would limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides by only certified applicators, farmers and farm workers. SB 163 and HB 605 are available here (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2015RS/bills/hb/hb0605f.pdf). For more information see, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/bill-seeks-to-protect-bees-from-pesticides/2015/02/17/df284fce-b6d8-11e4-bc30-a4e75503948a_story.html.
Legislation Introduced to Enable the State Income Tax Credit for Donated Conservation to be Transferable. Delegate Dana Stein and Senator Addie Eckardt have introduced legislation that will enable the existing Maryland income tax credit for donated conservation easements to be transferable. See HB0002 and SB0615 on the Maryland General Assembly website. A transferable credit is a very attractive conservation option as it can be sold by a landowner with low tax responsibility to someone with a substantial tax responsibility. Transferability has proven to be a cost effective mechanism in other states(especially Virginia) to increase donations of conservation easements. See http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2015RS/bills/hb/hb0002f.pdf.
Farmstead Cheese Bill Introduced with Support. After a successful five-year pilot program that enabled five dairy farms in Maryland to produce raw milk cheese from cows, goats and sheep, legislators on the Senate Finance Committee are in support of changing the program to be a more long-term business opportunity. Raw milk cheese, also known as farmstead cheese, means that the milk used has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Association. State Senator Adelaide C. Eckardt, R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico, sponsored SB 122 which supports the continuation of the farmstead cheese program with a few changes. The changes to the program include allowing farms to renew their license for cheese production every year, not limiting herd size to 120 animals or fewer and making more than five cheese producer permits available. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2015RS/bills/sb/sb0122F.pdf
Right-to-Farm Constitutional Amendments. The Indiana legislature is currently debating a right-to-farm constitutional amendment and is receiving a lot of media coverage. Some see the legislation as necessary to protect farms in Indiana and others see it as creating a “right-to-harm”. For a look at the coverage, here is a story from the Indy Star (http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/02/13/right-farm-amendment-indiana-aright-harm/23357877/) and WLFI (http://wlfi.com/2015/02/18/critics-say-right-to-farm-amendment-would-do-more-harm-than-good/). I realize that Maryland Farm Bureau is looking at similar language for Maryland, and it will be interesting to see if the debate over the law follows the debate currently happening in Indiana.
Soil Health. The High Plains Journal has a good article on what landowners should be asking their tenants about soil health. http://www.hpj.com/crop__general/article_09b64390-2865-5d78-a6e4-5b11affa3b8b.html.