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Weekly News Update for July 10, 2015

Updated: Jul 7, 2020

Field and blue sky (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Happy Friday everyone! Hopefully everyone survived the 4th of July weekend with all his or her fingers and toes (apologies to those of you who lost them). This week we have news and new resources to announce.

New Farm Bill Publications: Howard Leathers and myself have pulled together 2 new farm bill publications. Estimated Payments Under the 2014 County Agricultural Risk Coverage Program in Maryland provides estimates by county and crop of potential ARC-Co payments in Maryland. The other publication highlights which new program Maryland producers elected under the 2014 Farm Bill. Check out Commodity Program Choices by Maryland Farmers under the 2014 Farm Bill to see which programs Maryland producers selected.

New ALEI Videos: Sarah Everhart pulled together two new videos. The videos cover how to access your farm’s land records and understanding the agricultural discharge permit. The videos are available on the ALEI video page.

Birds eye view of a farm (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

New ALEI and Beginning Farmer Success Videos: Ashley Newhall and myself finalized a series of videos covering business organization structures. The videos provide a short overview of each structure and the pros and cons of each one. The videos are available on the UME Farm Transition and Estate Planning page.

New CSA Contracting Guide Available: The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and ALEI have released an overview publication of typical issues in CSA membership agreements. The publication Understanding A Community Supported Agriculture Agreement: What Should Be Included In A Good CSA Membership Agreement? is available online and will soon be available in print.

Bay TMDL Upheld: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals did uphold the Bay TMDL earlier this week. For a full review of the decision check out the overview post here.

Close up of a drone (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Farmers eager for drones, but most can’t legally fly them. Farmers are eager for drone technology. The small, relatively inexpensive vehicles could replace humans in a variety of ways around large farms: transmitting detailed information about crops to combines and sprayers, directing them very precisely to problem spots and cutting down on the amount of water and chemicals that a farmer needs to use in those areas. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group, says agriculture could account for 80 percent of all commercial drone use. Agricultural use of drones is about to take off after being grounded for years by the lack of federal guidelines. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved more than 50 exemptions for farm-related operations since January. To read the full story go here.

Farmers go high-tech in bid to reduce bay pollution. Eastern Shore farmers go high-tech to help the Chesapeake Bay and their bottom line. Farming, that most traditional of livelihoods, has evolved over the years into a high-tech business. And Kyle Hutchison is one of a handful of Eastern Shore farmers trying out one of the latest gadgets — a computer-driven system for sensing and “spoon-feeding” crops just the right amount of plant nutrients. Environmentalists hope the system prevents too much fertilizer from washing into the Chesapeake Bay. While plants need the nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizer to survive and grow, whatever they can’t use often winds up in rivers, streams and the bay. The nutrients feed the growth of algae blooms and oxygen-starved “dead zones” that harm fish and shellfish. “GreenSeeker,” as the system is known, varies the rate of fertilizer applied to a crop based on what it senses the plants need as opposed to spreading the same amount across a field. To read the full story click here.

Tractor dumping manure on a field (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Court ruling backs lease for oyster farm in Chincoteague Bay. A landmark oyster lease case in the coastal bays could turn the tide for aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. In April, Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals ruled that Donald Marsh, a Harvard Business School graduate-turned-oyster farmer, could have a lease to farm shellfish in Chincoteague Bay, a mile south of South Point and near Ocean City. The case, Michael Diffendal et. al v. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, has wound its way through the courts and the public appeals process for three years. DNR officials cheered the decision. Since 2009, when aquaculture was legalized in every county, the department has tried to promote raising oysters as a sustainable business while balancing the needs of others who want water access. To read the full story go here.

American Farm Bureau asked EPA to Vacate Water Law Rule-The American Farm Bureau Federation, Texas Farm Bureau, Matagorda County Farm Bureau, and 11 other agricultural and industry groups today asked a federal court to vacate the controversial new rule redefining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Texas, claims the new rule grants EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broad control over land use far beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act. See more at here.

USDA Is Planning For the Return of The Avian Flu-The USDA’s chief veterinarian, Dr. John Clifford, says the agency is preparing for the likelihood that the avian influenza virus will return this fall.

“What we’re planning is a worst-case scenario that every major poultry-producing state in this country, for layers, broilers and turkeys, could be affected,” Clifford says. There are also many questions as to the effectiveness of vaccines that need to be addressed. To read the full article and listen to the audio visit here.

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