Hogan and Democrats Reach a Deal on PMT Deadlines. On March 18th Hogan and leading Democrats announced that they had reached a compromise. New rules from Hogan will require the most polluted farms to stop applying chicken manure immediately, while other farmers will have more time and flexibility to reduce how much they use. The rules will create a firm deadline of 2022 for all farmers. Hogan's spokesman, Doug Mayer, said the solution "represents one of the most important steps forward in environmental policy in the last decade." A new advisory committee is to help decide whether farmers deserve more time if there isn't technology available to deal with excess chicken manure, and to make sure that farmers using the so-called "phosphorus management tool" are staying on track. The Hogan administration plans to send the new regulations to the Maryland Register for publication by Friday afternoon, launching a public review process. Senator Pinsky, the leading legislative critic of Hogan's earlier proposed phosphorus rules, announced the agreement Wednesday on the Senate floor. Pinsky, a Prince George's Democrat, said he was satisfied enough with the compromise that he would withdraw his bill to implement the rules Hogan had halted in January. Read the full article at:http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/general_assembly/bs-md-phosphorus-regulations-20150318,0,6153610.story
Webinars Offered for CSA Operators on Drafting Membership Agreements and Labor Issues. The webinars are sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC), the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), the Maryland Farm Bureau, and Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit with funding from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operators or those thinking about starting a CSA are invited to attend one of the featured webinars focused on drafting better membership agreements and addressing common labor law issues. The webinars are free but registration is required. The dates are: March 31st topic: “CSA Membership Agreements: What Not to Do and Introduction of the Model Membership Agreement” from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Register online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/csa-legal-issues-webinars-tickets-16155108364 and April 7th topic “Typical CSA Labor Law Issues and CSA Crop Insurance Products” from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Register online at:http://www.eventbrite.com/e/csa-legal-issues-webinars-tickets-16155108364
Maryland Celebrates National Agriculture Week. National Agriculture Week runs March 15th through the 21st. Governor Hogan expressed his appreciation for Maryland ag when he said, “Maryland farmers are doing everything they can to balance protecting our Bay with building strong, durable business. And we’re going to do everything we can to keep Maryland’s agriculture industry strong, diverse and sustainable.” Read the full article at https://www.morningagclips.com/md-celebrates-national-agriculture-week/
Business Structures Publication Released. Ashley Newhall and Paul Goeringer have finalized a publication giving a general overview of business organization structures typically utilized in agricultural businesses. This information can be helpful to those new producers looking to start their first farm. The publication is titled Using a Business Organization Structure to Limit Your Farm’s Liability and is available at: http://drum.lib.umd.edu/handle/1903/16325.
NRCS Funds Its First Silvopasture Practice in Virginia. Silvopasture is one of several agroforestry practices that entail managing crops or pasturelands as part of a broader landscape with trees, shrubs or forests. NCRS helped Buck Holsinger land the money to plant the trees that, it turns out, are good for a lot more than shade. Holsinger’s effort to manage trees alongside forage and livestock, a practice known as silvopasture, was the first of its kind in Virginia to receive NRCS cost-share dollars. Agroforestry, explained Katie Trozzo, a Ph.D. student researching the practices at Virginia Tech, is “bringing trees back into our agricultural fields and crop production into our forests.” Trees are a workhorse for local water quality, catching and slowing rainfall with their leaves and filtering pollutants with their roots, not to mention sequestering carbon, reducing erosion and enhancing wildlife habitat. Read the full story here-http://www.bayjournal.com/article/farmers_plan_to_create_shade_for_livestock_to_bear_fruit_in_more_ways_than?utm_source=Chesapeake+Bay+News&utm_campaign=eca3288ed6-Chesapeake_Bay_News4_23_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_71ced15df1-eca3288ed6-61681269
Easton Economic Development Corp. Retooling Food Hub Proposal. At the March 16th Easton Town Council meeting, the Easton Economic Development Corporation introduced the retooled food hub proposal. The food hub project gained wide attention last fall following news reports that the Martin O’Malley administration was planning to buy a 255-acre farm in Kent County and lease it for $1 an acre to the nonprofit Eastern Shore Food Hub Corp., led by Cleo Braver, an organic farmer and former environmental lawyer. The state later backed away from leasing the property but still moved forward in purchasing the land. “Since then we’ve pulled back and we’ve been retooling,” said Tracy Ward, executive director for the Easton Economic Development Corporation. The result is the Chesapeake Harvest Food Distribution Network, an effort to help small and mid-size farms capitalize on demand for locally raised food. Watch a video of the Town Council meeting at:http://talbotspy.org/spying-on-easton-mid-shores-food-hub-concept-becomes-chesapeake-harvest/