Unlike most sessions during an election year, this year's General Assembly session was much more eventful as the legislature had to focus on redistricting. Then, add in the virtual format and this session was like no other. In the House, it was all virtual. But, in the Senate, they went back to in-person about a month into session. Even with leadership stressing that the legislators limit their bill submissions, the final bill total was nearly 2,500 bills. The legislature pushed through the entire 90-day session and finished on time with Sine Die on April 11.
As in other years, there were several bills that were harmful to Maryland agriculture. Yet, once again, we were able to kill or remove the ag issues on those bills. The one bill that passed was significantly amended, but not to a place where we removed our opposition. That was HB496/SB275 - Labor and Employment - Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program - Establishment (Time to Care Act of 2022). Groups are still reviewing the final version of this bill to fully understand who will be affected. There is no doubt that there will need to be additional legislation next year to address the issues with what passed this year.
In addition to working to prevent bad legislation from passing, we worked on many bills that would help our farmers. Even with hybrid session, we were successful in getting 29 of those bills passed this year. One of the reasons for this success was the ability to work with the legislators, especially those in leadership. We appreciated the opportunity to meet and work with legislators from both parties.
Some highlights from the budget this session included the full funding of all the agricultural programs as well as Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission and Rural Maryland Council. An additional $1.25 million was included for tire recycling. We will be working with MDE to hopefully complete an ag tire recycling program for the other 16 counties that weren't included in the spring program.
For the remainder of the year, Maryland Farm Bureau will keep you informed through the Government Relations Bulletin, published every month. The GRB will be sent to those on our email subscription list and will be posted on our website here.Listed below is a final update on the bills that Maryland Farm Bureau took a position on during session.
HB12/SB32: Worcester County - Public Safety - Buildings Used for Agritourism Worcester County Delegation
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.
HB75: Maryland Agricultural Commission - Hemp Industry Member Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo
This is legislation that would increase the number of members on the Maryland Agricultural Commission by adding a member to represent one of the fastest growing agricultural enterprises in Maryland - the Hemp Industry. The Maryland Agricultural Commission is appointed by the Governor and serves as an advisory body to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Members on the Commission are tasked to formulate and make proposals for the advancement of Maryland agriculture.
HB147/SB121: Maryland Farms and Families Fund, Maryland Food and Agricultural Resiliency Mechanism Grant Program, and Maryland Farm-to-School Meal Grant Pilot Program - Alterations and Establishment Delegate Charkoudian & Senator Hester
As amended, this legislation does three things. It expands the current Maryland Market Money program by increasing the state's annual allocation from $100,000 to $300,000. Secondly, it creates the Maryland Food and Agricultural Resilience Mechanism (MD FARM). This program is modeled after the successful state programs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New York & Virginia. MD FARM would ensure that locally sourced produce, products, and services are utilized to allow food assistance organizations to: purchase surplus product, cover costs of distribution and processing, arrange contract growing, or assemble and create food boxes. As drafted, the bill would have the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) administer $200,000 annually to support Maryland-based procurement, harvesting, contracting, distribution, or processing for hunger relief efforts throughout the state. Thirdly, the bill would create the Farm to School Grant Pilot Program. The Farm to School Pilot Grant program would allow Maryland school districts to apply for grants of 20 cents for every meal served that includes a Maryland food component. Farm-to-school initiatives in Maryland currently receive no state-allocated funding or staffing for this purpose. This pilot program did not receive funding.
HB558/SB296: Land Use - Agritourism - Definition Delegate Clark & Senator Gallion
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.
HB586/SB489: Queen Anne's County - Public Safety - Buildings Used for Agritourism Delegate Arentz & Senator Hershey
This is legislation that adds Queen Anne's 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.
HB855/SB942: Agriculture - Urban Agriculture Water and Power Infrastructure Grant Program and Fund - Establishment Delegate Boyce & Senator Hayes
This bill establishes the Urban Agriculture Water and Power Infrastructure Grant Program in the Department of Agriculture to increase the viability of urban farming and community gardens and improve access to urban-grown foods. The Urban Agriculture Water and Power Infrastructure Grant Fund as a special, non-lapsing fund that is funded through the Program Open Space payback money. The program is funded starting in FY24 at $2,000,000 through the passage of SB541.
HB924/SB569: Alcoholic Beverages - Class 4 Limited Winery Licenses - Extension Delegate Valderrama & Senator Simonaire
Extending the application dates of the requirement to produce 51% or more of your products related to holders of Class 4 limited winery licenses to May 1, 2024.
SB39: Task Force to Study the Feasibility of Returning to State Meat Processing Inspection (Farms Buy Local Act) Senator Cassilly
This bill establishes a Task Force to Study the Feasibility of Returning to a State Meat Processing Inspection program instead of relying on the USDA to provide the services. Maryland used to have a state meat processing inspection program. However, it was removed in the early 1990s. Over the years, local processors have had increasing issues with the USDA program culminating with some significant changes to the way they were inspected last year. Most of our neighboring states have state meat processing inspection programs. With a large movement to source more local grown food, the need for additional meat processing is at its highest level in decades. Moving back to a state program, would bring a more streamlined approach to the process and help processors stay in compliance as well as start up faster. This bill didn't pass, but the study was added to the budget to require MDA to do the study before the end of the year.
SB594: Winery and Vineyard Economic Development Grant Program Senator Guzzone
This bill establishes the Winery and Vineyard Economic Development Grant Program within the Department of Commerce and authorizes new and existing wineries and vineyards to receive a grant equal to 25% of the qualified capital expenses incurred in connection with establishing new wineries or vineyards or completing capital improvements at existing wineries and vineyards. It requires the Governor each year to include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of at least $1,000,000 to be used for grants under the Program.
HB540/SB437: Agriculture - University of Maryland Extension - Urban Farmer Assistance Delegate Henson & Senator McCray
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.
HB440: Electricity - Community Solar Energy Generating Systems - Generating Capacity Delegate Clippinger
As amended, this bill increases the maximum generating capacity of a community solar energy generating system (from 2 megawatts to 5 megawatts). The bill likewise increases the maximum allowable generating capacity of a community solar energy generating system for the system to be eligible for net-energy metering credits (from 2 megawatts to 5 megawatts). Lastly, the bill specifies that a community solar energy generating system is not a generating station only if the generating capacity of the community solar energy generating system does not exceed 2 megawatts. As a result, the bill requires that a community solar energy generating system that exceeds 2 megawatts obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for its construction.
HB653/SB348: Conservation Finance Act Delegate Love & Senator Elfreth
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.
SB528: Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 Senator Pinsky
This bill was significantly amended and now makes broad changes to the State's approach to reducing statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and addressing climate change. Among other things, the bill (1) increases the statewide GHG emissions reduction requirement and requires the State to achieve net-zero statewide GHG emissions by 2045; (2) establishes new and alters existing energy conservation requirements for buildings; (3) increases and extends specified energy efficiency and conservation program requirements; (4) establishes requirements for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the State fleet; and (5) establishes new entities and new special funds to support related activities including $500,000 per year for 5 years to the Healthy Soils program starting in FY24.
HB646/SB378: Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland - Funding for Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission Delegate Proctor & Senator Jackson
As amended, 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 2023, 2024 and 2025. 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.
HB496/SB275: Labor and Employment - Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program - Establishment Delegate Valderrama & Senator Hayes
As amended, this bill establishes the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Program and FAMLI Fund to provide up to 12 weeks of benefits to a covered individual taking leave from employment due to specified personal and family circumstances. The weekly benefit is based on the individual's average weekly wage, subject to a cap. The FAMLI Fund consists of contributions from employees and employers of at least 15 employees and pays for benefits, a public education program, and implementation and administrative costs. The bill generally takes effect June 1, 2022, with the establishment of the FAMLI Program, among other provisions, taking effect January 1, 2023.
Tax Policy & Budget:
SB290: Budget Bill (Fiscal Year 2023) The President (By Request - Administration)
The budget passed with a nearly $59 Billion total. Agricultural programs were fully funded and so was Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC), Maryland Agricultural Resource Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO), and Rural Maryland Council (RMC). The ag tire recycling program was funded at $1.25 million.
SB567: Property Tax - Agricultural Use Assessment - Improvements Senator Elfreth
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.
HB51: Talbot County - Deer and Turkey Hunting - Sundays Delegate Mautz
As amended, this bill authorizes the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow, in Talbot County, a person to hunt deer on each Sunday of the deer hunting season from 30 minutes before sunrise until 10:30 a.m. However, the time restriction does not apply on the last three Sundays in October and the first two Sundays in November during the deer bow hunting season. The bill also authorizes DNR to allow, in Talbot County, a person to hunt turkey on each Sunday of the spring turkey hunting season from 30 minutes before sunrise until 10:30 a.m.
HB143: Somerset County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting Delegate Otto
As amended, this bill 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 each 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) from 30 minutes before sunrise until 10:30 a.m. However, the time restrictions do not apply (1) on each Sunday of the deer firearms season or (2) the last three Sundays in October and the first two Sundays in November of the deer bow hunting season.
HB170: Calvert County - Sunday Hunting Delegate Clark
As amended, this bill expands Sunday hunting in Calvert County by authorizing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow a person in Calvert County to hunt any game bird or mammal on each Sunday during the open season for that game bird or mammal from 30 minutes before sunrise until 10:30 a.m. However, the time restriction does not apply on each Sunday during the deer firearms season; on the last three Sundays in October and the first two Sundays in November during the deer bow hunting season; and on each Sunday of the spring turkey hunting season.
HB514: Charles County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting Delegate Charles
As amended, this bill expands Sunday hunting in Charles County by authorizing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow a person in Charles County to hunt any game bird or mammal on each Sunday during the open season for that game bird or mammal from 30 minutes before sunrise until 10:30 a.m. However, the time restrictions do not apply on each Sunday of the deer firearms season; on the last three Sundays in October and the first two Sundays in November during the deer bow hunting season; and on each Sunday of the spring turkey hunting season.
HB556: Caroline County, Dorchester County, and Queen Anne's County - Natural Resources - Sunday Hunting Delegate Arentz
As amended, this bill expands Sunday hunting in Caroline, and Queen Anne's County by authorizing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow a person in these counties to hunt any game bird or mammal on each Sunday during the open season for that game bird or mammal from 30 minutes before sunrise until 10:30 a.m. However, the time restrictions do not apply on each Sunday of the deer firearms season; on the last three Sundays in October and the first two Sundays in November during the deer bow hunting season; and on each Sunday of the spring turkey hunting season on Caroline and Queen Anne's County. This bill also expands Sunday hunting in Dorchester County by authorizing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow a person in that county to hunt any game bird or mammal on each Sunday during the open season for that game bird or mammal with no time restrictions.
HB592: Deer Management Permit - Hunting on State Land Leased by Permit Holder - Authorization Delegate Jacobs
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.
HB682/SB427: Baltimore County - Hunting - Nongame Birds and Mammals Delegate Brooks & Senator West
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.
HB884: State Conservation Land - Old-Growth Forests - Protection Delegate Gilchrist
As amended, this bill requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), whenever it identifies an "old-growth forest" on State Parks, Wildlife Management Areas and Natural Resources Management Areas to manage the land in a manner that prohibits logging. However, the bill doesn't prohibit DNR from taking actions to protect old-growth forest from fire, animals, insects, disease, and erosion in a manner that has minimal adverse effects on the ecosystem and subject to condition the secretary considers necessary. This bill was significantly amended to remove MDFB opposition.
SB541: Natural Resources - Maryland Park Service and State Parks - Alterations (Great Maryland Outdoors Act) Senator Elfreth
As amended, this comprehensive bill addresses infrastructure, capacity, and accessibility needs within the Maryland Park Service and State parks, including establishing systems and processes for surveying infrastructure and critical maintenance needs, increasing the number of Maryland Park Service full-time employees, requiring the Department of Budget and Management to conduct certain staff reviews, and requiring the Department of Natural Resources to develop a capital improvement plan and a comprehensive long-range strategic plan. Included in this bill is more funding for the Maryland Ag Land Preservation Foundation. Also in this bill is the possible use of the Program Open Space payback funding. The bill funds the Urban Ag Water and Power Infrastructure Fund that was established in HB 855/SB 942 at $2,000,000.
SB582: Natural Resources - Recreation on Private Land - Hunting Senator Bailey
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.
HB562: Consumer Protection - Right to Repair - Farm Equipment Delegate Hornberger
This bill requires a farm equipment manufacturer to make available documentation, updates, or information (including the software needed to flash/pair the computer system in the farm equipment) to an independent repair provider or owner of farm equipment to allow for the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of the farm equipment. It prohibits a farm equipment manufacturer from knowingly misrepresenting or withholding farm equipment part numbers from a customer. This bill died in committee.
HB673/SB538: Land Use - Agritourism - Definition Delegate Hartman & Senator Carozza
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. This bill died in committee.
HB1216: Department of Agriculture - Urban Agriculture Grant Fund Delegate Wells
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 $250,000 per year for 4 years starting in FY24. Even though, there was $500,000 put in the FY23 budget and the bill passed the House, the Senate chose to not pass the bill on Sin E Die even with it on 3rd reader and awaiting final passage.
SB936: Public Utilities - Net Energy Metering - Eligibility Requirements Senator Gallion
This bill prohibits the Public Service Commission from setting eligibility requirements for an electric generating system used by an eligible customer-generator that are based on the eligible customer-generator's baseline annual usage. This would remove the maximum energy generation overage allowed on a net metered project. Currently, net metered projects are allowed up to 200 of their annual energy usage. This bill would remove that 200 cap. The project would still be limited to 2 megawatts or smaller. This bill died in committee.
HB11: Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Tier 1 Renewable Source - Alterations (Reclaim Renewable Energy Act of 2022) Delegate Stewart
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. The bill died in committee.
HB171/SB135: Climate Crisis and Environmental Justice Act Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo
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. The bill died in committee.
This bill requires the MDE to adopt regulations to exempt an on-farm composting facility from the requirement to obtain a permit if the on-farm composting facility uses 40,000 square feet or less in support of food scrap composting and meets any other condition for a permit exemption specified in regulations. The bill died in committee.
HB387/SB268: Pesticide Regulation - Transfer to Department of the Environment Delegate Ruth & Senator Kagen
This bill would transfer the regulation of pesticides, plant diseases, and mosquitos in the State from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Environment. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB596/SB783: Constitutional Amendment - Environmental Rights Delegate W. Fisher & Senator Smith
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 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. This bill died in committee.
This bill establishes the Committee on Air Quality to create, on or before January 1, 2023, an air quality sampling and monitoring protocol for the collection of air quality and public health data associated with certain large animal-feeding operations. Bill died in committee.
HB829/SB687: Department of the Environment - Zero-Emission Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles - Regulations (Zero-Emission Truck Act of 2022) Delegate Love & Senator Lam
This bill requires the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations on or before December 1, 2022, establishing requirements for the sale of new zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the State. Heavy-duty vehicles are those that are rated over 26,000 pounds and medium are those rated at 10,001 to 26,000 pounds. Bill died in committee.
HB831: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Commercial and Residential Buildings Delegate Stein
This bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to adopt building emissions standards for "covered buildings" that achieve specified reductions in "direct building emissions." The bill also establishes the Building Transition Implementation Task Force, which must study, make recommendations, and develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the building sector. The bill also requires the Maryland Department of Labor (MDL), by January 1, 2023, to adopt by regulation the 2018 International Green Construction Code (IGCC) and adopt each subsequent version of the code within 18 months after it is issued, among other specified building code alterations. Bill died in committee.
HB934: Gasoline-Powered Leaf Blowers - Sale, Offering for Sale, and Use - Prohibition Delegate Foley
This bill bans the use of a gasoline-powered leaf blower in the State beginning January 1, 2025, and bans the sale of them in the State beginning January 1, 2024. This bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.
HB960/SB651: Natural Resources - Forest Mitigation Banks and the Forest Conservation Fund - Alterations Delegate Kerr & Senator Young
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 2 years to 5 or from 3 growing seasons to 6 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. This bill died in committee.
HB1070: Solid Waste Disposal and Diversion and On-Farm Composting and Compost Use Delegate Boyce
This bill will create grant programs to divert compostable waste from landfills as well as on-farm composting and compost use. Funded by a nominal surcharge on waste disposed at landfills, incinerators, and waste transfer stations, this grant program could make more than $30 million per year available to mobilize investments in waste prevention, reuse, repair, recycling, and composting. Half of the grant funds are earmarked to support on-farm composting and compost use. This bill died in committee.
HB1085/SB903: Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Qualifying Biomass and Thermal Biomass Systems Minority Leader Buckel & Senator Hershey
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. This bill died in committee.
HB698/SB721: Labor and Employment - State Minimum Wage Rate - Increase Delegate Turner & Senator Waldstreicher
This bill accelerates the State minimum wage rates in effect and repeals 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. This bill died in committee.
Livestock & Poultry:
HB116/SB345: Agriculture - Right to Engage in Equine Activities Delegate Love & Minority Leader Jennings
This bill simply declares that the intent of the General Assembly is that residents of Maryland have a right to engage in equine activities subject to regulations and restrictions under laws enacted by the General Assembly. The bill died in committee.
Tax Policy & Budget:
HB852: Corporations and Associations - Annual Reports - Filing Fees Delegate Saab
This bill eliminates the $100 annual filing fee for family farms and eliminates the $300 filing fee for LLC businesses. This bill died in committee.
HB1002/SB800: Sales and Use Tax - Electricity for Agricultural Purposes - Exemption Delegate Luedtke & Senator Guzzone
This bill adds electricity that is used for agricultural purposes such as raising livestock and poultry, irrigation, or crop production and grain harvest to the existing agricultural sales and use tax exemptions. 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 limited number of farms that have separate meters for barns and other ag uses, 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. This bill died in committee.
HB156: Local Governments - Urban Agricultural Incentive Zones - Authorization Delegate Queen
As amended in the House, this bill authorizes a local government to establish, by local law, procedures for a qualifying farmer or partner organization to apply to the local government to designate an area as an urban agricultural incentive zone. The bill allows municipalities to offer certain incentives (reduced water/electricity prices, tax reductions, etc.) and would enable Maryland to take advantage of existing USDA grants. This bill died in the Senate committee.
HB631: Caroline County - Sunday Hunting - Authorizations Delegate Ghrist
This bill adds Caroline 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. This bill was withdrawn by the sponsor and amended onto HB556.
This bill would limit the use of a Deer Cooperator Permit to only two months of the year. This bill died in committee.
HB1279: Sunday Hunting and Archery Hunting Safety Zones - Statewide Authorization and Establishment Delegate Hornberger
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. This bill died in committee.
Split Nitrogen Cost-Share The Mid-Atlantic 4R Nutrient Stewardship Association is looking for producers who are interested in enhancing their 4R nutrient stewardship by adding an additional split to their nitrogen application for the 2022 corn growing season with cost-share available of $15 an acre. More here.
Summer 2022 Hughes Center Internship Opportunity The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc. (Hughes Center) is seeking undergraduate student applicants interested in working as an intern on a project that will require extensive research related to agriculture, urbanization, land use, food systems, and policies in Maryland over a 20-year period. This internship is part of a five-year $9 million project, "Thriving Agricultural Systems in Urbanized Landscapes" funded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). More here.
Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program
The Biden Administration dedicated $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds for the expansion and diversification of independent processing capacity. USDA announced a host of Meat and Poultry Supply Chain programs and initiatives to meet this objective. These programs impact stakeholders across the protein supply chain and require a robust suite of technical assistance to expand and diversify processing capacity at local and regional levels. AMS developed the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance (MPPTA) Program to support participants of these programs, including the Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program (MPIRG) and the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). More here.
AFBF Welcomes Call for Increased Use of Biofuels
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on President Biden's announcement to expand availability of biofuels through the summer. "AFBF appreciates President Biden's decision to expand the availability of ethanol through year-round E15 sales. America's families are enduring record-high gas prices, and taking advantage of domestically produced fuels will not only drive down costs at the pump, it will also reduce dependence on foreign crude oil." More here.
Breaking Down the HPAI Outbreak
Highly pathogenic avian influenza was first detected in wild birds in South Carolina on Jan. 13 of this year. Poultry growers, remembering well the 2014-2015 outbreak, collectively held their breath, hoping that the second shoe - outbreaks in commercial and backyard flocks - wouldn't drop. Unfortunately, despite advanced biosafety protocols, the first outbreak in domesticated birds was detected on Feb. 8. Through April 7, USDA has announced more than 600 detections in wild birds across 31 states and 158 detections in commercial and backyard flocks across 25 states. The spread has many concerned that we may have an outbreak similar to the 2014-2015 outbreak on our hands. But how does the current outbreak really compare to the 2014-2015 outbreak? More here.
Ask Congress to Expand Access to Broadband in Rural Communities
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. Most Americans take broadband for granted and while the gap is closing, many rural Americans still lack broadband access compared to urban Americans, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Current broadband coverage maps are inadequate because they rely on census block data to determine coverage. Census blocks are too large in rural and remote locations to accurately determine need. If even one household in each census block is reported by a provider as being served, then the entire block is considered served. More here.
Renting a car for your next trip might be cheaper than flying if you're 1) purchasing airfare less than a month before departure 2) traveling with a group or 3) flying to or from a small airport. Your member-only discount of up to 30% off Avis rentals helps too! More here.