agriculture

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration plans to identify and conserve at least 1,000 properties across Virginia by the end of the governor's term.

McAuliffe announced the Virginia Treasures initiative on Wednesday during a visit to Pocahontas State Park.

Properties considered as treasures include agricultural lands, habitat for rare or threatened plants and animals, trails, scenic byways, rivers and public gardens.

McAuliffe says the goal is conserve land and expand access to public outdoor recreation.

Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate has voted to increase the responsibilities and scope of the state's Commission on Climate Change.

Senators voted 32-14 on Tuesday for the bill, with support and opposition for the legislation falling on Democratic and Republican party lines, respectively.

The bill puts into law the requirements of a 2014 executive order signed by then-Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Within the order is the expansion of the commission's membership, as well as the development of a plan for an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Governor Larry Hogan has laid out a new phosphorus initiative.

Billed as an enhanced phosphorus management tool the Maryland Governor would give more time for farmers to cut their use of phosphorus and would immediately stop the state’s greatest offenders.

Most farmers would have until 2022 to fully comply with the new regulations.

Hogan’s spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said that 21 percent of farmers on the Lower Shore would feel the immediate impact of the change.

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There’s legislation in the Maryland General Assembly that would urge Congress to do something about the state of the Conowingo Dam.

The dam is blamed for sediment flowing into the bay which contains harmful nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen when the dam floods.

The Maryland Senate resolution wants the Congress to get the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study on the state of pollution at the dam.

Last November a $1.4 million study found that cutting pollution into the bay would fall mostly only the shoulders of agricultural communities.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Broiler chickens and soybeans are Virginia's biggest agricultural products.

The most recent Census of Agriculture, for 2012, shows broiler chickens topped commodity sales that year. Growers sold about $638 million worth of broiler hens. Soybeans were the top crop with more than $300 million in sales.

Total agricultural product sales exceeded $3.7 billion.

The census also shows there are more than 46,000 farms in Virginia, covering more than 8.3 million acres.

Don Rush

Governor Larry Hogan has pulled the controversial phosphorus regulations on farmers.

They will not appear in the next issue of the Maryland Register essentially freezing any attempt to impose the new standards that found strong opposition from the poultry and agricultural industries on the Eastern Shore.

Erin Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said that Hogan has ordered all agencies to begin a comprehensive review of all pending regulations.

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Governor Martin O’Malley is going to move forward with the new phosphorus regulations.

An economic study has just been completed showing that the new rules could cost anywhere from $22 million to $50 million depending on the length of time take to implement them.

But the governor said that it’s time to move forward with the solutions endorsed by scientists and experts across the state to improve the health of the bay.

It could take as long as 6 years to implement.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware budget officials are starting to lay the groundwork for developing a budget for next fiscal year.

Budget director Ann Visalli and her staff are beginning meetings this week to hear budget requests from various state agencies.

The meetings begin Wednesday with agency hearings that include the agriculture and economic development departments, and the Department of State.

Don Rush

During a campaign swing through the Eastern Shore Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Lt. Governor Anthony Brown pledged that if elected he would personally invite Jim Perdue to meet with his administration on environmental regulations.

Perdue has complained that he does not feel that he has a seat at the table when it comes to environmental regulations.

After an appearance on the campus of Salisbury University, Brown was asked about Perdue’s remarks.

Don Rush

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Officials in Maryland are accepting nominations for the Governor's Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture says nominations are due Sept. 9. Officials are looking to honor farm families who have dedicated their lives to farming. The families that are selected to be inducted into the hall of fame will be honored during the Taste of Maryland Agriculture on Feb. 5, 2015.

Any farm family that derives its income principally from farming is eligible to be inducted into the hall of fame, which was established in 1991.

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Public opinion polls show Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown with a 20 plus lead over rival Attorney General Doug Gansler in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial primary race with Delegate Heather Mizeur a distance third.  The Attorney General stopped by the studios of Delmarva Public Radio to discuss the race and the issues

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Republican gubernatorial candidate David Craig took a tour through Wicomico County yesterday, and Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush caught up with him to focus on some local issues ranging from the wind farm in Somerset County and environmental issues to economic development in the region.

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Department of Agriculture is urging residents to help reduce the spread of invasive species that pose a threat to agricultural and natural resources.

The agency says April is Invasive Plant, Pest and Disease Awareness Month.

The department says invasive pests often arrive on cargo ships or with people returning from foreign travel. But once here, they can spread due to people's carelessness.

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Representative Andy Harris says if the state does not implement the new phosphorous regulations for the agriculture industry properly he will take action on the federal level.

During a meeting with the Eastern Shore delegation in Annapolis last week the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Republican congressman said if the new regulations hurt farmers then he will consider with holding money from the state of Maryland.

The phosphorous management tool would alter the way the amount of phosphorous is applied by farmers.

Don Rush

DOVER, Del. (AP) - A new census of American agriculture shows that the number of farms in Delaware has declined over the past five years, while the value of crops and livestock they produce has increased.

A report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the number of farms in Delaware declined from 2,546 in 2007 to 2,457 in 2012.

Don Rush

NEWARK, Del. (AP) - The University of Delaware is saying goodbye to one of its less popular majors in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

WBEL-AM reports that the school is eliminating it agricultural education major.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Mark Rieger says the major enrolls 11 students or about 1.5 percent of the student body. All students currently enrolled in the major will be able to get their degrees.

Don Rush

It was the wettest June on record for Salisbury this year.

At the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport registered nearly 10 inches of rain.

In Downtown Salisbury it was higher at just over 11 inches.

June’s rainy weather included the impact of a derecho as well as remnants Tropical Storm Andrea.

All of this could threaten local crops that are already in the ground.

Those like cucumbers squashes and other vegetables are susceptible to mildew and other diseases.

And wheat kernals could also shrink after getting water soaked.

Don Rush

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A survey of Virginia growers forecasts increased acres devoted to soybeans, tobacco, barley and wheat, while cotton and peanut plantings are down.

The survey of Virginia producers was conducted in early June by the National Agriculture Statistics Services. Plantings for three signature crops - tobacco, peanuts and cotton - offer a mixed bag. Tobacco plantings are up 9 percent, while cotton declined 19 percent and peanuts 30 percent.

Nearly 1.3 million acres are devoted to hay, a decrease of less than 1 percent.

Don Rush

Senator Barbara Mikulski hailed the Senate passage of the farm bill declaring the measure would bolster Maryland’s $2 billion agricultural industry.

The Maryland Democrat said the legislation would provide a stronger safety net for dairy producers with a market stabilization program, while increasing agricultural block grants from $55 million to $70 million a year.

Maryland’s senior Senator also said that the Farm Bill made crucial reform to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that without reducing benefits or removing anyone from its rolls.

Maryland Farm Bureau

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Maryland senate committee has approved an agriculture certainty bill that has split support from environmental groups.

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee voted 7-4 to pass the bill Wednesday.

Md. Agr. Secy. Buddy Hance, msa.md.gov

SPARKS, Md. (AP) - Maryland has approved a record 607,000 acres of winter grains so far in the state's cover crop program.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance joined agricultural leaders and farmers made the announce today.

A record 1,860 farmers are participating in the program, and 152 of them are new to the initiative this year.

The record acreage represents 170 percent of the current two-year goals of the watershed implementation plan for cover crops.

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There’s a new energy efficiency grant for farmers.

The Maryland Energy Administration says its new program would cover up to 75 percent of the cost associated with such items ranging from insulation and ventilation to irrigation.

The new grant is named in honor of Kathleen Mathias, the late wife of State Senator Jim Mathias, who worked many years for the town of Ocean City.

To qualify farmers and agricultural businesses must increase energy savings by 15 percent.

 

      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland agriculture and environmental officials are opposing a bill to prohibit additional bay restoration regulations on farmers until other states in the watershed catch up to their pollution reductions.