www.mdfarmbureau.com | Contact: Colby Ferguson or Pat Wolff


              
  Hotline #6  
 

February 25, 2022

Welcome to Hotline number six. With the beginning of spring right around the corner, the bill hearing sessions will ramp up to plow through all the introduced bills that are guaranteed a hearing. Next week will see an increase in committee hearings as they push to meet the March 21st opposite chamber bill crossover deadline. This week was filled with hearings on environmental rights, Sunday hunting, and the right-to-repair farm equipment. We want to thank Farm Bureau members, Marshall Cahal and Jonathan Quinn for testifying with us in support of the right-to-repair bill. Another bill that we opposed, but wasn't in last week's Hotline was HB 934 ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. As farmers know, this tool is essential when blowing off farm equipment in the field to prevent weed contamination in the next field as well as blowing off dust and debris before getting back on a road. Banning this tool would be very detrimental to a farmer.  

The Hotline will be posted on the MDFB website each 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.


 
  Tuesday, March 1, 2022  
 

SB 651: Natural Resources - Forest Mitigation Banks and the Forest Conservation Fund - Alterations
Senator Young, EHEA at 1:00 PM

This bill removes the requirement that a forest mitigation bank had to be approved on or before December 31, 2020, to be eligible, and it extends the deadline from two years to five or from three growing seasons to six for the Department of Natural Resources to accomplish the reforestation or afforestation for which certain money is deposited to the Forest Conservation Fund. A bill last year was amended at the end of session to include the deadline date. Unfortunately, that date kicked out many projects that had been in the pipeline for several years and had been held up because of the Attorney General's ruling in 2020. This bill looks to correct that unintended consequence.


SB 903: Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Qualifying Biomass and Thermal Biomass Systems
Senator Hershey, FIN at 1:00 PM 

This bill authorizes thermal biomass systems, for purposes of the State's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), to use food waste, qualifying biomass (including Silvicultural products and natural wood waste), or animal manure as a source of fuel, regardless of the relative mix of those fuel sources. Other eligibility requirements related to thermal biomass systems and their fuel components are unchanged.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support energy generation from all agricultural residues and bi-products to be considered value-added production on a farm. We support initiatives to generate heat and electricity from timber resources.


HB 1282: Property Tax - Agricultural Use Assessment - Improvements
Delegate Hornberger, W&M 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. 

 
  Wednesday, March 2, 2022  
 

HB 956: Natural Resources - Recreation on Private Land - Hunting
Delegate Clark, E&T at 1:00 PM

This bill provides that if a landowner directly invites or permits with or without charge an individual to use the landowner's real property for hunting, the invited or permitted individual impliedly consents to adhere to every law, observe every safety precaution and practice, take every precaution against fire, and assume all responsibility and liability for the individual's safety and property while hunting on the landowner's real property.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support the current contributory negligence liability standard that protects livestock owners in Maryland from frivolous lawsuits. We oppose passage of legislation that would use a comparative negligence standard to determine awards based on the extent of each party's responsible actions.  


HB 960: Natural Resources - Forest Mitigation Banks and the Forest Conservation Fund - Alterations
Delegate Kerr, E&T at 1:00 PM 

See bill summary for SB 651 that's being heard on Tuesday.


HB 1002: Sales and Use Tax - Electricity for Agricultural Purposes - Exemption
Delegate Luedtke, W&M at 1:00 PM 

This bill adds to the existing agricultural sales and use tax exemption electricity that is used for agricultural purposes, such as raising livestock and poultry, irrigation, or crop production and grain harvest.

Currently, residential electric consumers are tax-exempt and so are manufacturing operations. Many farmers are on residential rates as the electric meter for the farm is also tied to their house. However, for those farms that have separate meters for barns, they are under the commercial electric rate. It is these farms that are also having sales and use tax added to their bill. This bill would exempt all farms from the sales and use tax not just the ones that have residential use meters. 

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: Maryland Farm Bureau supports the continued exemption of agricultural items and related services from the state sales tax.


HB 1067: Natural Resources - Wildlife Management - Nighttime Hunting
Delegate Stein, E&T at 1:00 PM

This bill would limit the use of a Deer Cooperator Permit to only two months of the year.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: Allow for the practice of spotlighting deer while utilizing Deer Management Permits specifically issued by DNR for nighttime use. 

Expand the use of sharp shooters for harvesting deer.


 
  Thursday, March 3, 2022  
 

SB 833: Cannabis - Legalization and Regulation
Senator Feldman, FIN at 1:00 PM

This bill legalizes the sale and use of Marijuana starting July 1, 2023. It establishes a system for the regulation and taxation of the market for the production and sale of cannabis in the state. 

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We oppose the production and sale of recreational marijuana. 


 
  Friday, March 4, 2022  
 

SB 569: Alcoholic Beverages - Class 4 Limited Winery Licenses - Extension
Senator Simonaire, EHEA at 1:00 AM

This bill grants additional time for certain holders of Class 4 limited winery licenses to comply with the requirements of Chapter 542 of 2018, which modified the eligibility requirements to obtain and maintain a Class 4 limited winery license. As a result of the change, a person who held a Class 4 limited winery license on or before June 30, 2018, is required to meet the eligibility requirements of Chapter 542 by May 1, 2024, instead of May 1, 2022. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been tough for new wineries to expand their vineyards due to inability to get vines and materials as well as the dramatic increase in the cost of these plants and materials. Allowing the growers an additional two years to meet the growing needs will help continue the growth in the winery industry.


HB 11: Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Tier 1 Renewable Source - Alterations (Reclaim Renewable Energy Act of 2022)
Delegate Stewart, ECM at 1:00 AM

This bill alters the definition of "Tier 1 renewable source" for purposes of excluding energy derived from qualifying biomass, methane from the anaerobic decomposition of organic materials, fuel cells, poultry litter-to-energy, waste-to-energy, refuse-derived fuel, and thermal energy from a thermal biomass system from being eligible for inclusion in the renewable energy portfolio standard.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support an additional carve-out in the Maryland RPS for poultry litter and livestock manure to energy generation. 


HB 1085: Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Qualifying Biomass and Thermal Biomass Systems
Minority Leader Buckel, ECM at 1:00 PM

This bill authorizes thermal biomass systems, for purposes of the State's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), to use food waste, qualifying biomass (including Silvicultural products and natural wood waste), or animal manure as a source of fuel, regardless of the relative mix of those fuel sources. Other eligibility requirements related to thermal biomass systems and their fuel components are unchanged.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support energy generation from all agricultural residues and bi-products to be considered value-added production on a farm. We support initiatives to generate heat and electricity from timber resources.


HB 1216: Department of Agriculture - Urban Agriculture Grant Fund
Delegate Wells, E&T at 1:00 PM

This bill would establish the Statewide Urban Agriculture Grant Program in the Department of Agriculture to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to urban-grown foods. The Fund would be a non-lapsing fund held by the State Treasurer that could also receive monies from any other source including the Federal Government. Through nonprofits, the program would focus on technical assistance, securing real property and grants for capital improvements for urban farmers. The bill requires $5 million per year for four years starting in FY24.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support and encourage urban farming/agriculture. We support ongoing skills' development training in urban agriculture for all ages. We support the expansion of urban farming and the creation of a clear pathway to land ownership for urban farmers. We support grant programs to provide infrastructure for urban farms. We support the use of Program Open Space funds to purchase easements on vacant lots and green spaces within planned urban developments and city limits to be used for urban agriculture.


 
  Maryland Ag News  
 

Winter and Spring Webinar Series
Maryland Farm Bureau is proud to present our Winter Webinar series for 2022! All webinars will take place on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM and are free for members! Crossover is about a month away, and we're inviting you to learn about the priority bills Maryland's General Assembly is considering in a free webinar on March 9. Sign up now.


Nominate Conservationist and Farm of the Year
The Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission's Farmer of the Year award recognizes a Maryland Farmer whose commitment to wildlife management and conservation is outstanding among their peers. The deadline to submit this application is March 11. More here.

 


Nominate Your Fire Department to Win a Grain Bin Rescue Tube
Rural firefighters are often the first and only line of defense when someone becomes helplessly trapped in grain. Unfortunately, many fire departments lack the specialized rescue techniques and equipment necessary for a successful grain bin rescue. To help curb tragic fatalities, Nationwide will award selected rural fire departments with a rescue tube and training. Nominate a firehouse through April 30. More here. 


Two positions Available with Chesapeake Agriculture Program
1. MD-DE Agriculture Program Director - Interested in someone who is passionate about conservation and agriculture to continue to advance projects in the Maryland and Delaware portions of the Chesapeake Bay that improve water quality, biodiversity, and climate resiliency. 

2. Agricultural Applied Scientist - Interested in someone who is passionate about applying their science background and training in agriculture including agronomy, soil health, and nutrient management to develop conservation strategies and on the ground projects. More here.


Study in Preparation for a Maryland Agriculture Climate Vulnerability Assessment Released
In response to a request from state lawmakers, the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Maryland Department of Agriculture, and the Maryland Department of the Environment has released a study in Preparation for a Maryland Agriculture Climate Vulnerability Assessment. This study in preparation for a full assessment is the first step in addressing and mitigating impacts from climate change on Maryland's top industry, agriculture. More here.


 
  National Ag News  
 

How Farmers are Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions with Each Meal Served
Since 1990, the U.S. population has increased by 31% (from roughly 250 million in 1990 to 329 million in 2019). That's cause for excitement, and it also raises some important questions: How will we provide for our country's growing demands for education, health care, and housing? How will we feed our population? And what kind of impact will a growing population have on our use of natural resources and the environment? More here.


Survey Shows Strong Support for Additional USDA-Inspected Processing Facility in the Mid-Atlantic
To better serve poultry farmers in Delaware and nearby states, Delaware Farm Bureau partnered with Pennsylvania and Maryland Farm Bureaus and Brandon McFadden, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Delaware's Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, to survey poultry and livestock farmers about the need for an additional USDA-inspected processing facility in the region. More here. 


 
  Member Benefits  
 

Farm Bureau Healthcare
Our members get benefits that do more, like healthcare coverage that includes Prosper Benefits to help you save throughout the year on your healthcare needs. More here.