The House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Friday to a bill that would give Maryland farmers a 10-year reprieve from new Chesapeake Bay cleanup requirements, in return for their voluntarily doing more to reduce polluted runoff from their fields.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected a series of amendments to SB1029, including ones that would have limited the scope of the program to 50 farms for now, and that would have required participating farmers to disclose some information about their farms.
"We need to slow this down and give it more certainty," Del. Heather Mizeur, a
Her amendments and others offered by Democrats Jon Cardin of
The program is voluntary and requires farmers to agree to unspecified pollution control measures not now required of them, the Baltimore city Democrat said. With the deadline for bay restoration efforts not until 2025, McIntosh said, getting farmers to step up now should accelerate the cleanup.
"I for the life of me don't understand why we wouldn't want to do that," she said.
Backing the bill beside farm groups was the
"It's called certainty for a reason," she said, arguing that participants in the program would be "model" farmers. "We want to give farmers some certainty."