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


              
  Hotline #7  
 

March 4, 2022

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.

Welcome to Hotline number seven. This week was filled with bill hearings from urban agriculture, sales and use tax exemption to forest mitigation banks and deer cooperator permits. We want to thank Farm Bureau members Brad Rill, Howie Feaga, Paula Linthicum, and Farmer Chippy for joining us this week to testify on key legislation. Next week will be another week filled with bill hearings as the bill crossover deadline looms even closer.  

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.


 
  Wednesday, March 9, 2022  
 

SB 98: Somerset County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting
Senator Carozza, EHEA at 1:00 PM

Legislation that expands Sunday hunting in Somerset County by authorizing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow a person in Somerset County to hunt any game bird or mammal on a Sunday during the open season for that game bird or mammal (including on public land leased to a hunt club that is designated for hunting by DNR).

Crop damage created by deer is nearly $50 per acre today. These numbers are even higher on the Eastern Shore. DNR reports show that more than 10% of the deer harvested this hunting season were done on Sundays. Opening Somerset County to have these additional Sunday hunting dates will allow the hunters to help address the overpopulation of deer in Somerset County.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support statewide Sunday hunting on private lands.


SB 140: Talbot County - Deer and Turkey Hunting - Sundays
Senator Eckardt, EHEA at 1:00 PM 

This bill allows hunters in Talbot County to hunt deer on each Sunday of the deer hunting seasons from the first Sunday in October through the second Sunday in January. This would add Talbot to a list of counties that consists of Carroll, Dorchester, and Frederick. The bill also allows hunters in Talbot County to hunt on each Sunday during the spring Turkey season. This adds Talbot to a list of counties that consists of Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, and Kent.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support statewide Sunday hunting on private lands.


SB 220: Calvert County - Sunday Hunting
Senator Bailey, EHEA at 1:00 PM 

This bill would allow a hunter in Calvert County to hunt on each Sunday of the game bird and game mammal seasons. This would add Calvert to a list of counties that consists of Allegany, Cecil, Garrett, St. Mary's, and Washington. 

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support statewide Sunday hunting on private lands.


SB 342: Queen Anne's County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting
Senator Hershey, EHEA at 1:00 PM

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.


SB 388: Charles County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting
Senator Jackson, EHEA at 1:00 PM

This bill adds Charles 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.


SB 427: Baltimore County - Hunting - Nongame Birds and Mammals
Senator West, EHEA at 1:00 PM

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.


SB 437: Agriculture - University of Maryland Extension - Urban Farmer Assistance
Senator McCray, EHEA at 1:00 PM

This bill requires the University of Maryland Extension to hire an extension agent dedicated to urban farm production methods and crop management and an extension agent dedicated to urban farm and agribusiness management. It requires the agents to perform applied research and provide education to urban farmers. Finally, the bill requires the Governor to annually include $300,000 in the annual budget bill for the extension agents hired under the Act.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We believe that the University of Maryland should establish a line item in their budget for funding the University of Maryland Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Stations. We urge increased funding for agricultural research and extension to bring a more equitable funding support and correct the disparity between these departments and the rest of the University. 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. 


SB 497: Deer Management Permit - Hunting on State Land Leased by Permit Holder - Authorization
Senator Gallion, EHEA at 1:00 PM

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. 


SB 538: Land Use - Agritourism - Definition
Senator Carozza, EHEA 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.


SB 582: Natural Resources - Recreation on Private Land - Hunting
Senator Bailey, EHEA at 1:00 PM

As amended, 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.  


SB 783: Constitutional Amendment - Environmental Rights
Senator Smith, JPR at 1:00 PM

This bill proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution, contingent on a referendum, to establish that every person has the right to a certain clean and healthy environment. The bill elaborates that a clean environment is all of the following: clean air, pure water, ecosystems that sustain Maryland's natural resources, which include that waters of the state, air, flora, fauna, climate, and public lands, the preservation of the natural, healthful, scenic, and historic values of the environment, and states that Maryland's natural resources are the common property of every person. This would give citizens in Maryland standing to intervene on any state application process if they believe it interferes with any of those clean environment definitions mentioned above. Some examples would include, CAFO's, irrigation, hemp, new buildings, composting, commercial fishing, and aquaculture permits. 

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We strongly support responsible and workable actions designed to permit and protect the privilege and rights of farmers, commercial fisherman, and aquaculturalists to produce without undue or unreasonable restrictions, regulations, or legislation. We support actions to ensure that farmers are protected from liability and nuisance suits when carrying out normal production practices.


SB 800: Sales and Use Tax - Electricity for Agricultural Purposes - Exemption
Senator Guzzone, B&T 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.

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


HB 12: Worcester County - Public Safety - Buildings Used for Agritourism
Delegate Otto, E&T at 1:00 PM

This is legislation that adds Worcester County to a list of other counties that exempt existing ag structures that are going to be used for agritourism from being required to retrofit the structure with bathrooms, sprinklers, and other high occupancy requirements. This exemption allows up to 200 people in the structure. The structure must still adhere to the structural integrity standards as well as entrance and exit requirements.  

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: 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 1279: Sunday Hunting and Archery Hunting Safety Zones - Statewide Authorization and Establishment
Delegate Hornberger, E&T at 1:00 PM

This bill authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to allow a person to hunt on Sundays on private property statewide and any public land in the state designated for hunting by the department. It also establishes a uniform statewide safety zone for archery hunters at 50 feet.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support uniform Sunday deer hunting laws throughout the state on private land. We support statewide Sunday hunting on private lands. 


 
  Thursday, March 10, 2022  
 

SB 721: Labor and Employment - State Minimum Wage Rate - Increase
Senator Waldstreicher, FIN at 1:00 PM

This bill accelerates the State minimum wage rates in effect and repealing the authority of the Board of Public Works to temporarily suspend an increase to the State minimum wage rate. Current law has the $15 minimum wage rate to be in full effect for large employers by 2025 and small employers by 2026. This bill moves the $15 rate up to July 1, 2022, for large employers and up to July 1, 2023, for small employers. There are no exemptions for ag employees other than the existing federal ag worker exemption.  

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support the passage of legislation to exempt agriculture workers and point of sale workers in agriculture from minimum wage increase requirements.


HB 171: Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act
Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo, ECM 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. 


 
  Friday, March 11, 2022  
 

HB 514: Charles County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting
Delegate Charles, E&T at 1:00 PM

See bill summary for SB 388 that's being heard on Wednesday.


HB 646: Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland - Funding for Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission
Delegate Proctor, E&T at 1:00 AM

This bill requires the Governor to appropriate $900,000 to the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland from the Cigarette Restitution Fund in fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter. It also requires the funds appropriated under the act to be used for the purpose of funding the activities of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission.

Maryland Farm Bureau Policy: We support the State of Maryland increasing funding to the Tri-County Councils for the purpose of including and funding agricultural and natural resources development in their mission.


 
  Maryland Ag News  
 

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Confirmed in Delaware
The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is alerting all poultry growers, operators, and owners to remain vigilant and enhance biosecurity practices now that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been confirmed in a commercial poultry flock in Delaware. 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. 


MARBDICO Agricultural Grants Associate
Qualified candidates are sought for a full-time position that administers grant incentive programs and provides other programmatic and outreach support for a quasi-public (nonprofit) organization providing financial and business development assistance to agricultural and resource-based businesses in Maryland. The incumbent implements, coordinates, and monitors the activities of assigned grant programs and participating agribusinesses. For best consideration, please respond by March 7, 2022. More here.


Share Your Thoughts on Solar Development
Researchers from the University of Maryland and Cornell University are organizing a focus group meeting with landowners from Maryland to gather information on their views and actions related to large-scale solar leases on farmland. Any landowner that has signed a solar lease, considered or declined a solar lease is invited to participate in a 1.5-hour virtual meeting with other landowners around the state. More here.


Briefing on the Study in Preparation for a Maryland Agriculture Climate Vulnerability Assessment
Please join us for an online briefing on Monday, March 7 at 10:00 AM. This briefing is on the study in preparation for a Maryland Agriculture Climate Vulnerability Assessment, prepared by the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Maryland Department of Agriculture, and Maryland Department of the Environment in response to a request from state lawmakers in the 2021 General Assembly. More here. 


 
  Call to Action  
 

Ask Congress to Expand Rural Access to Broadband Service
Rural broadband is a critical pathway to global markets for agriculture and other industries. Farmers and ranchers depend on broadband just as they do highways, railways, and waterways. While most Americans take broadband for granted, 26.4 percent of rural Americans lack broadband access compared to only 1 percent of urban Americans, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Take action here!


 
  National Ag News  
 

USDA Grants Will Strengthen Food Supply
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on USDA's announcement to provide grant funding to expand meat and poultry processing facilities. "AFBF appreciates USDA's efforts to increase competition in America's beef and poultry processing systems. Families continue to find rising prices at the grocery store, but farmers don't see the price they're paid for chicken and beef rise at the same rate." More here.


Extension of the Modified Emergency Declaration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hereby declares that the continuing national emergency warrants extension of the modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002. The extension of the modified Emergency Declaration continues the exemption granted from certain requirements in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for the 50 States and the District of Columbia as set forth below. More here. 


Nonimmigrant and Special Visa Fees
American Farm Bureau is encouraging the U.S. State Department to refrain from implementing a proposal to increase fees for nonimmigrant and special visa fees. Many Maryland growers rely on H-2A program to produce food. However, their ability to use the H-2A program and continue the production of labor-intensive crops is in jeopardy if the cost of using the program increases while cash receipts for labor-intensive commodities remains flat or decline. AFBF's letter says that there are already extensive costs to bring a guest worker into the U.S. and the State Department should instead focus on streamlining the H-2A program. More here.


 
  Member Benefits  
 

John Deere: Slam-Dunk Deals on Mowers 
It's March madness on mowers over at John Deere! Combine their limited-time offer with your Farm Bureau member discount to receive as much as $1,100 off and 48 months of 0% interest on commercial mowing equipment. Browse all your savings opportunities here.