SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners agreed to send the state a letter outlining their continued concerns with phosphorous regulations.
As Maryland prepares to move into the next phase of Phosphorous Management Tool (PMT) regulations, the commissioners agreed to send Gov. Larry Hogan a letter of opposition.
“This has true fiscal implications for our farmers and our businesses,” said Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs. “It may be best to let the governor know we’re concerned about this and hopefully the executive branch can take notice.”
The PMT was implemented in Maryland in 2015 as way to identify the risk of phosphorous loss and prevent additional buildup of phosphorous in soils already saturated. The PMT regulations were to be phased in gradually from 2015 to 2022. Mitchell told the commissioners he’d attended a meeting of the state’s PMT Transition Advisory Committee last month. During that meeting, a report from Salisbury’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) was presented that said the industry would need 12-24 months to enter the next phase of PMT regulations, which is scheduled to be implemented in the next growing season.
“I’m not going to throw science in here even though we’ve got a lot of scientific reasons why this tool is not being implemented correctly,” Mitchell said. “This is about our farmers and our businesses here. We don’t have the fields to relocate the manure. They’re competing with sludge from Baltimore ….”
He added that solar arrays were also taking up field space and that the state didn’t have the funding, trucks or drivers to relocate the expected amount of excess manure to fields with lower nutrient levels.
“We all collectively told the state this five years ago,” Mitchell said.
He said the committee failed to agree on a motion to delay implementation of the regulations but was scheduled to meet again Dec. 13. Mitchell said he recommended sending the governor and the Maryland Department of Agriculture a letter outlining the county’s PMT concerns in the meantime. The commissioners voted unanimously to do so.