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Friday, May 11, 2012

Farmers Face New Regulations to Help Keep the Bay Clean

EASTON, Md. - Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay is a top priority for Maryland officials. Now the state Department of Agriculture is proposing some new restrictions on farmers that are intended to help clean the bay.
"It's annoying to the extent that farmers have done work before for the environment that has gone unnoticed to a large degree," said farmer Ed Heikes. Heikes is a farmer in Talbot County. His property is located along the Miles River in St. Michaels. He said it is unreasonable for the state to tell farmers how and when fields can be fertilized.
"We can't always schedule things for precise times of the year because you can only fight nature so much," said Heikes. One of those regulations will limit farmers from keeping sludge, manure, and live stock 10 to 35 feet away from the water.
The spreading of manure in the winter could also be prohibited unless it is applied in a way that it does not become runoff. But farmer Greg Gannon said cleaning up the bay should be a priority, which is why he has already taken steps to do so.
"It makes sense to be looking at it closely as far as it's contributions of nitrogen and phosphorus to the bay, but again with nitrogen stabilizers in modern fertilizer and a good management practice, I don't know how much more can be done," Gannon said.
Most of these new regulations are not set to take place until 2016.

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