By Sarah Everhart
New Law Aims to Protect Oyster Farms from Poachers. As oyster farming grows in Maryland, legislators moved to protect the product that protects the Chesapeake Bay by enacting HB 287, to help leaseholders of aquaculture plots — oyster beds suspended in open water cages — to recoup damages from poachers. Those caught poaching would be subject to pay three times the cost of their illegal harvest directly to aquaculture farmers, who are collectively leasing 4,000 acres of the Maryland Bay. In 2010, Maryland opened 600,000 new acres of the Chesapeake Bay to be leased for oyster harvesting since the current leases were maxed out. DNR has been accepting new applicants for aquaculture plots since the expansion. Just last year, the value for aquaculture equaled $3 million and the wild harvest exceeded $14 million. Read more at: http://marylandreporter.com/2015/05/26/new-law-aims-to-protect-oyster-farms-from-poachers/#sthash.44VFlqmS.dpuf
Phosphorus Management Tool: What You Need To Know. As of June 8, 2015, farming changed forever on the Eastern Shore. The long-awaited — and, in some camps, long-dreaded — phosphorus management tool has gone into effect in Maryland. The regulation represents the state’s biggest effort yet to control the amount of manure that Eastern Shore farmers spread on their fields. Here are some key questions about the new agricultural rules and their answers. Who will the phosphorus management plan affect the most? Farmers with too much phosphorus on their fields, particularly those where the water table is close to the surface and those near waterways. They will be required to reduce or eliminate phosphorus inputs. Some may need to purchase commercial fertilizer to add the nitrogen their crops need without adding more phosphorus. The excess manure at these farms will have to be trucked to farms that need more phosphorus. For the full story go here: http://www.delmarvanow.com/story/news/local/maryland/2015/06/05/phosphorus-management-debuts/28579629/
Md. Growers Ask for Help Against Bears. Some Garrett County farmers have a severe bear problem, and they’re looking to the state for more leniency to hunt them. It’s not uncommon for roughly 10 corn growers to suffer losses of five to 10 acres a year to bears that have become increasingly comfortable in residential and agricultural settings, said Billy Bishoff, president of the county’s Farm Bureau. Maryland’s bear density is about 0.25 per square mile with the highest densities in Garrett County and western Allegany County where there are more than 1,000 black bears, the state Farm Bureau said. Farmers there said they want to be able to acquire permits to hunt bear during a managed hunt if they could demonstrate they have severe crop loss issues due to black bears. The state currently uses a bear stamp lottery system that permits occasional hunts and is designed to raise money to compensate farmers for the crop losses, Bishoff said, but the state never sold enough stamps to make up the difference. For the full story go here: http://www.americanfarm.com/publications/the-delmarva-farmer/2345-western-md-growers-ask-for-help-against-bears
Are Drones The Next Step in Precision Agriculture?-From 2015-2025, drone integration is expected to contribute $75.6 billion in economic impact by agriculture, compared to $3.2 billion by public safety and $3.2 billion by other activities. Another study, conducted by GRA, Inc., in cooperation with Booz Allen Hamilton, estimates that annual crop savings from using drones could reach more than $200 million by 2035. Additionally, the FAA recently approved the first exemption of current rules to allow use of drones over crops for the purposes of spraying water, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The exemption only allows drones to be flown in visual line-of-sight during daylight hours at a maximum altitude of 400 feet, and requires FAA-certified pilot training for the user, along with another person acting as a spotter. Read the full story at http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.focus&id=208
The House Passes a Bill to Repeal the Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Amendments Act– On June 10, 2015, the House passed H.R. 2393, a bill that will repeal country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken. Read the full story at http://agriculture.house.gov/press-release/house-passes-bill-repeal-mandatory-cool-beef-pork-and-chicken
Labor Webinar: Complying With The I-9 Process. Complying with federal and state labor laws can be complicated matters for not only agricultural producers but any business operator. One aspect of federal labor law is verifying the individual is eligible to work in the United States. On June 22nd at 12:00 p.m., Dr. Shannon Ferrell, Oklahoma associate professor of agricultural economics, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University, will cover this topic and touch upon other issues related to federal labor laws. The webinar is open to all and is free. The webinar will be recorded for those unable to attend. Registration is available at https://aleii-9webinar.eventbrite.com. The recorded webinar will be available on the Ag Law Education Initiative’s Youtube page. You can also find recordings of our previous webinars there covering agricultural leasing and CSA contracting issues. You can also check out the publication by Will Pons A Guide to Agricultural Labor Laws: How Best to Comply with the Relevant Federal and Maryland State Standards.