Farm Bureau votes to support Ehrlich proposal to limit runoff

December 11, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The Maryland Farm Bureau voted unanimously yesterday to support legislation proposed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration to limit agricultural runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

The plan - which would simplify existing rules and eliminate a requirement that farmers sign a "right of entry" agreement for state inspectors - has been debated vigorously since the administration presented it Monday in Ocean City.

Many farmers wanted more sweeping changes to the 1998 law requiring limits on use of fertilizers and manure on fields.

"Once everyone had a chance to discuss it and think about it, everyone agreed that this is the best option right now," said Valerie Connelly of the Farm Bureau. "The goal was to make this more efficient for farmers, and this is the most streamlined proposal that can be taken to the legislature."

Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley said he was pleased the farmers are backing the administration's proposal - which also has earned tentative support from environmental advocates - and said it will help the department win passage in the General Assembly this winter.

Scientists say that runoff from agricultural fields accounts for about 40 percent of nutrient pollution in the bay.

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