maryland farm bureau hosts legislative day Annual Day in Annapolis Brings Farmers, Legislators Together
DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (February 10, 2022) — Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) hosted its annual Day in Annapolis yesterday to give its members the opportunity to stay up-to-date on legislation affecting farming and rural communities and to visit with their legislators. The format, virtual due to the Maryland Capitol’s pandemic closure, allowed for nearly 50 legislators and 120 farmers to interact, with an issues briefing, questions, and break-out sessions.
“We know how important these bills are — especially their implications for Maryland’s farming community. Thank you to all of the legislators and staff for taking the time to learn how these issues affect our ability to grow and raise food, fiber, and renewable fuel, as well,” said Wayne Stafford, MDFB president.
Proposed legislation that MDFB is currently following are bills moving pesticide regulation from Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE); deer and wildlife damage to crops and privately owned farmland; permitting and air quality regulations; and the right to repair farm equipment.
“The right-to-repair bill helps to ensure that all sizes of farms can continue to operate to meet time-sensitive needs of crops, and aren’t dependent on huge companies,” said Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. “I know large equipment companies are fighting this, so we should look out for the small family farmer. I’m 100% with Maryland Farm Bureau on this and happy to continue to move that forward.”
MDFB’s list of priority bills include the following, which it supports:
- SB 296/HB 558: Establishes a definition for “agritourism” with regards to land use. It adds camping and incidental outdoor stays to the state’s definition of agritourism.
- HB 562: Requires farm equipment manufacturers to provide farmers the capability and tools needed to repair their own modern farm equipment, so that they are not dependent on over-committed technical service providers during the busiest times of the year for farming.
- Various bills establishing funds to help urban agriculture, such as HB 855 with water and power infrastructure.
- SB 800: Sales and use tax exemption for agricultural electricity.
- Various bills allowing the management of deer/wildlife on private and state-owned property to reduce widespread destruction of crops, such as SB 497/HB 592, and in Baltimore County SB 427/HB 682.
- SB 582: Provides that if a landowner directly invites or permits an individual to use their property for hunting, the invited individual assumes all responsibility and liability for their own safety.
A number of bills introduced during this session would make farming more difficult in Maryland.
“Several of these bills would cause undue burden and hardship on Maryland farmers while costs related to operating a farm today continue to rise,” said Colby Ferguson, MDFB director of government and public relations. “Some of these bills ignore decades of conservation management efforts and best management practices farmers have put in place to protect air and water quality and soil health. Farmers build a livelihood for themselves and their families right next to or on the same land in which they grow crops and raise livestock; being good stewards of the environment is always in their best interest.”
Maryland Farm Bureau opposes the following bills:
- HB 11: Excludes many energy sources derived from agricultural production from the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
- SB 268/HB 387: Would move pesticide regulation from MDA to MDE.
- HB 596: Grants Marylanders standing to intervene on any state application process if they believe another’s action or permit interferes with any of their rights to a clean environment.
- HB 798: Would create a new government bureaucracy to enact costly air quality requirements for farms above and beyond existing environmental quality standards.
- HB 496: Establishes the requirement of all employers of all sizes (including self-employed) to pay into a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.
“If we don’t use ag sources such as biomass and thermal energy as renewable energy sources, then all of that waste has to go somewhere not beneficial and is a nuisance,” said Senator Stephen Hershey, on HB 11. “It’s important to continue educating all of our colleagues on how various renewable energy is actually produced and utilized as opposed to negative assumptions based on not understanding.”
Bob Cissel, a Montgomery County farmer, addressed the deer damage and wildlife management bills. “Our deer damage problems in Maryland are like if you had a store and in the mornings you woke up and 9% of your inventory was gone,” he said.
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MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that services as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau® is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Learn more at MDFarmBureau.com.
Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)
573.268.6853 | firstname.lastname@example.org