Yesterday, July 17, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) held a Nutrient Management Plan summit to provide stakeholders with an overview of its new nutrient management program. Maryland law requires that all farmers grossing $2,500 a year or more, or livestock producers with 8,000 pounds or more of live animal weight, follow nutrient management plans when managing animal manure. These plans must be prepared by a certified University of Maryland specialist, a certified private consultant, or a farmer who is trained and certified by MDA to prepare his or her own plan.
MDA explained that the its goals were to, among other things: adapt the nutrient management program to fit modern farming practices and operations; improve the plan writing process through cost-free plans available to farmers; and increase the number of farmers trained to write NMPs. In a press release the same day, Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks thanked the “industry and their representatives for providing critical input throughout the listening sessions.” He also thanked “the University for stepping up and addressing our concerns.”
For its part, the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources thanked MDA for working with it “on priority changes to the statewide nutrient management program.” Dean Craig Beyrouty said that the University “is very encouraged by the progress that has been made to re-introduce University of Maryland plan writers so that we may continue to offer the support our Agricultural community has come to trust and rely upon. I’m thrilled that the University of Maryland Extension (UME) will administer this new program. They provide research-based education with a deep understanding of farmers’ operations and environmental needs and will be excellent stewards for this important work.”
MDA is holding nutrient management program training classes starting in August. The next Nutrient Management Certification Exam will be held on August 4 in Annapolis, Keedysville, and Easton.