Published on November 16, 2016 in the Capital Gazette

The Maryland secretaries of the environment and agriculture will be in Annapolis next week talking about ways the state can meet Chesapeake Bay water quality goals while preserving the Delmarva agriculture industry.

Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles and Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder will be joined by Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee Friday at the University of Maryland’s second Agriculture Law Education Initiative conference.

The chicken industry is the largest player in Maryland agriculture, generating nearly $1 billion in sales — 41 percent of Maryland farm revenue, according to published reports. The chicken business is credited with employing about 7,000 people in the state.

Agriculture also is the largest source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, one Maryland and other states in the watershed have pledged to reduce substantially.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who appointed Grumbles and Bartenfelder, blocked disputed environmental regulations in 2015 drawn up by Gov. Martin O’Malley, and then worked out his own rules including a ban on spreading poultry manure on some Eastern Shore fields where the water-quality threat is greatest.

But in announcing the policy, Hogan vowed to look out for poultry and grain growers, saying would phase restrictions on farmers’ use of animal manure as fertilizer so that the costs of compliance won’t put them out of business.

Other topics on the agenda include Alternative Energy on the Farm, Food Safety Modernization Act & Water Usage, Water Quality & the Bay, Agritourism & Zoning Compliance, Developments with Nutrient Management Regulations and Legal Issues in Agriculture & Environment.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. DoubleTree Hotel, 210 Holiday Court. For more information, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/agriculture-and-environmental-law-annual-conference-tickets-27076904751.