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Grain task force bill is aimed to help farming community

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on May 19, 2003:

Senator Dyson Recently, Governor Ehrlich signed into law a Senate Bill 367, which I sponsored. While it received little fanfare, it was a major piece of legislation for Maryland farmers and was a top legislative priority of the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Maryland Grain Producersí Association this past General Assembly Session.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate and House, sets up a much-needed task force that will evaluate many aspects relating to the grain industry in Maryland -- most notably how to transport it at the most reasonable cost possible.

I was asked by the farming community to introduce this bill because the cost of transporting grain products they harvest has gone up significantly since a major grain terminal at the Maryland Port Authority was closed after a pier collapsed and was totally destroyed a year and a half ago.

The Archer Daniels Midland-owned pier has not reopened and despite efforts by the Port to come to an agreement with ADM to reopen it has not been pleasant. Both have countersued each other and the case is still in the courts. It is nearly impossible that ADM will reopen the grain terminal. The Port has said it does not have the money to rebuild the pier and questions whether it is even viable to do so -- although it has not ruled it out. Despite some concerns, the Port was one of the biggest supporters of SB 367.

The task force will study the feasibility of rebuilding a grain facility at the Port along with many other considerations.

This task force will provide excellent input and ideas because its membership is made up of representatives from the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Business and Economic Development, the Department of Transportation, the Port, the Maryland Farm Bureau, the Maryland Grain Producers Association as well as representatives from the ocean, trucking, rail and barge industries and two licensed grain dealers.

I am certain that the expertise the membership of this task force will bring to the table will find a solution to the situation facing our farmers as they travel much further distance to the Port of Norfolk than they were traveling to Baltimore.

Not only does it cost more in gasoline and wear and tear on the farmersí mode of transportation to go to Norfolk, they also spend much more time away from tending to business on their farms and their families because the length of the trip is considerably longer and more arduous.

There are many questions to be answered regarding this problem that has plagued our already beleaguered farmers since the ADM facility was destroyed. However, with its overwhelming passage of the grain task force legislation, the Maryland General Assembly has shown its great concern for our farming community. I am pleased that we fast tracked this legislation. A report is due to the governor by December of this year. This due date will force the task force to work hard and quickly to solve this current crisis facing our farmers.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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