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Legislature, Farmers, Bay Advocates To Work Together

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on July 22, 2005:

Senator Dyson Ask any farmer in Maryland about their nutrient management strategies and you are likely to get many opinions -- many of them not very positive. Well a new commission may help to lessen some of their concerns.

The Agricultural Stewardship Commission will be comprised of members of the legislature, the farming community, the academic field, organizations that work for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the Agricultural Business Industry.

This important commission was established by Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch with the mission statement that we are to examine one of the critical issues facing Maryland: finding incentive-driven solutions to help farmers implement sound agricultural practices that will help clean up Maryland’s rivers, streams and the Bay.

The commission is charged with coming up with legislation based on recommendations of this committee. Its goal is to find solution that keep excess manure off the land and provide financial incentives for farmers.

Rather than fighting farmers, let’s work with them. Several years ago, I fought against former Governor Glendening’s assault on the farming community when he all but blamed them for the physteria hysteria on the Pocomoke River. He blamed runoff from farms for causing a mysterious contagion that left fish either dead or with serious lesions that made them unmarketable. No tangible evidence ever surfaced that the farmers had anything to do with this, but they paid a heavy price. The way the whole situation was handled left a terrible taste in the minds of many farmers.

It shouldn’t have.

Farmers are an invaluable resource for many reasons. They sustain themselves working long, hard hours. I have always admired them. Those who maintain their farms also prevent development. While Southern Maryland continues to be developed, it still has a great country aura because of our farms. Each day I travel to Annapolis during the General Assembly Session or for interim meetings -- such as the first gathering of this commission next week -- I drive down Indian Bridge Road. It is a beautiful stretch of roadway because much of it is farmland.

I applaud the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House for creating a commission which will be tasked to find ways in which we can help get government off our farmers’ backs as well as addressing such pressing issues like the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. This is the classic example of “thinking outside the box.”

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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