Welcome to our fourth Hotline of the 2022 Maryland General Assembly session. This week, more than 120 farmers and 49 legislators from across the state participated in Maryland Farm Bureau's Virtual Day in Annapolis. This event on Wednesday featured a legislative briefing by the MDFB government relations staff and breakout sessions with legislators and our members. We would like to thank all the farmers who met with legislators on our priority issues. Finally, we'd like to thank the many legislators on both sides of the aisle who took time to attend our event. Click here to check out some of our top priority bills from Wednesday's briefing.
The Hotline will be posted on the MDFB websiteeach week. Maryland Farm Bureau members are urged to contact their legislators and members of the relevant committees in support of Maryland Farm Bureau's positions on the bills. To contact legislators and follow important bills, visit Maryland Farm Bureau's action center and select "key legislation." The action center can serve as a valuable tool for legislative information. The site offers the proceedings and agendas of the House and Senate, hearing schedules, bill information and status, and other data updated nightly.
SB 135: Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act Senator Kramer, EHEA at 1:00 PM
This bill starts out by requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various measures, including altering statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements so that the state has reduced by 60% by 2030 and then after 2040 statewide greenhouse gas emissions are net negative. It requires the Department of the Environment to adopt a plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by December 31, 2022. The bill establishes a Climate Crisis Council to develop a plan to meet the reduction targets set out in the Act. Lastly and most importantly, the bill establishes a greenhouse gas pollution fee on transportation and non-transportation petroleum based fuels. The fees start at $15/ton of carbon dioxide equivalent and ramps up to $60/ton by 2032 for non-transportation fuels and is $10/ton and ramps up to $37/ton by 2032 for transportation fuels. This bill requires the added cost can't be passed through directly to the end user.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We oppose the creation of a state carbon and/or greenhouse gas reduction tax/fee.
HB 496: Labor and Employment - Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program - Establishment Delegate Wilson, ECM at 1:00 PM
This bill establishes the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program in the Maryland Department of Labor to provide benefits to individuals who take sick leave from employment. The bill establishes the Division of Family and Medical Leave Insurance in the Department to administer the program and establishes the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund as a special, non-lapsing fund. Both the employer and employee would pay into the fund. All size businesses would be included and this would include self-employed businesses. There are no agriculture exemptions in the bill.
SB 567: Property Tax - Agricultural Use Assessment - Improvements Senator Elfreth, B&T at 1:00 PM
This bill adds certain ag structures to be assessed at the agricultural use tax rate if the structure is used for the manufacture, packaging, storage, promotion, or sale of a value-added agricultural product, including a dairy product, that is derived from ingredients produced on the agricultural land or any associated agricultural land; agricultural alcohol production; or agritourism.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: Farms operating on-farm food processing, alcohol production, and agritourism businesses should be assessed at the agricultural use tax rate.
HB 558: Land Use - Agritourism - Definition Delegate Clark, E&T at 1:00 PM
This bill adds camping and incidental outdoor stays to the state definition of agritourism. The bill does not require the local government to implement new regulation, but instead enables them to include camping on farms as an agritourism activity if the county so chooses.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support incidental outdoor stays as an accessory use on a working farm. Agritourism should be defined as activities conducted on a farm and offered to the public or to invited groups for the purpose of education, recreation, or active involvement in the farm operation.
The focus of the bill is on actions that improve water quality, but the changes will also advance environmental justice and public health, expand initiatives around forest and agricultural soil carbon sequestration, and reward projects that deliver co-benefits like local jobs, flood risk reduction, or climate resilience. Many of the changes are designed to make it easier for private funding and financing to play a role in helping Maryland achieve these outcomes.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support voluntary mechanisms for nutrient and carbon reduction on both farms and forests that allow farmers and/or landowners to receive fair compensation for nutrient removal and/or carbon reductions.
HB 673: Land Use - Agritourism - Definition Delegate Hartman, E&T at 1:00 PM
This bill adds to the definition of agritourism to include special events and occasions conducted on a farm that generates income from an agricultural activity.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support wedding and event venues as an accessory use on a working farm. Agritourism should be defined as activities conducted on a farm and offered to the public or to invited groups for the purpose of education, recreation, or active involvement in the farm operation.
HB 556: Queen Anne's County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting Delegate Arentz, E&T at 11:00 AM
This bill adds Queen Anne's County to a list of counties that allow a person to hunt any game bird or game mammal on a Sunday during the open season for that game bird or game mammal. Current counties that allow this are: Allegany, Cecil, Garrett, St. Mary's, and Washington.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support statewide Sunday hunting on private lands.
HB 592: Deer Management Permit - Hunting on State Land Leased by Permit Holder - Authorization Delegate Jacobs, E&T at 11:00 AM
This bill authorizes an individual who hunts deer under a Deer Management Permit to use a shotgun or breech-loading center fired rifle approved by the department to hunt deer throughout the year, including all deer hunting seasons, on state land leased by a permit holder for the purpose of cultivating crops.
Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support the use of Wildlife Management Permits on both public and private owned lands.
HB 682: Baltimore County - Hunting - Nongame Birds and Mammals Delegate Brooks, E&T at 11:00 AM
This bill repeals a requirement that you must first purchase a hunting license before you can hunt or trap groundhogs in Baltimore County. Farmers continue to have troubles with groundhogs in their fields and barns. If passed, this bill would allow farmers in Baltimore County to follow the same requirements as farmers in every other county in the state.
Wildlife, like groundhogs, continue to cause crop and farm equipment damage on Maryland farms around the state. Only in Baltimore County, does a farmer and their hired workers need a hunting license to be able to remove problem groundhogs around their farm. This bill cleans up an outdated law and conforms Baltimore County's law with all the other counties in the state that don't require a hunting license to remove groundhogs.
Scholarships Available for Maryland Farm Bureau Families Maryland Farm Bureau is giving back to its members and students of the community by offering five $2,000 scholarships for the 2022-2023 academic year. Applicants must be high-school seniors starting college in the fall of 2022 or full-time college students at any accredited community college or four-year institution. Applicants, or their parents/guardians, must be members of Maryland Farm Bureau. More here.
Answering Agriculture's Critics I'm a big believer in taking the high road. When media present inaccurate or incomplete portrayals of U.S. agriculture, my job and the job of Farm Bureau is to help them understand where they went wrong and to set the record straight. We had our work cut out for us with a recent New York Times opinion video. It was so disappointing to see a respected media outlet present a distorted picture of agriculture without so much as acknowledging that farmers play an essential role in stocking America's pantries. AFBF jumped into action. More here.
Farm Bureau Asks EPA to Withdraw Proposed WOTUS Rule Maryland Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau Federation submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency on the agency's plan to write a new Waters of the U.S rule. AFBF, along with 21 other agricultural organizations, recommended the Biden administration withdraw the proposed rule, citing jurisdictional issues and lack of stakeholder engagement. More here.
Farm Bureau Commends New Climate-Smart Pilot Projects American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on USDA's announcement of the Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program.
"Farm Bureau commends efforts by USDA to address the challenges farmers and ranchers are facing in their attempts to adopt new and emerging climate-smart practices, as well as participate in developing climate marketing channels." More here.
Deadline Extended to Enroll in 2022 Dairy Margin Coverage and Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage USDA has extended the deadline to enroll in Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage (SDMC) for program year 2022. The deadline to apply for 2022 coverage is now until March 25, 2022. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration's ongoing efforts to support dairy farmers and rural communities, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened DMC and SDMC signup in December 2021 to help producers manage economic risk brought on by milk price and feed cost disparities. More here.
USDA 1890 National Scholars Program The USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement has opened itsFY2022 application periodfor this year's 1890 National Scholars Program. Please share the attached flyer with networks, stakeholders, and any potential student applicant. The application deadline is February 15, 2022.More here.
Avis: Boost Your Discount Per Gallon Rethinking a car rental because of soaring gas prices? Check a site like this first. With up to 30% off rates from Avis when using your Maryland Farm Bureau member discount, you can save more on the rental than you'd spend on gas. Go to Avis today and see how much you'd come out ahead! More here.