It's a hot afternoon in Tuscarora, Maryland, and dairy farmer Chuck Fry is feeding 170 of his Holstein and Jersey cows in an open barn longer than a football field, as huge fans whirl to cool the animals off. He then leads a visitor to a pair of tanks holding milk's byproduct.
"For every gallon of milk I get I am benefited by three gallons of manure," said Fry, President of the Maryland Farm Bureau. "Now, that’s a curse and a blessing. We use that three gallons of manure to grow next year’s crops. So we store it and treasure it because it has tremendous value."
But manure also has a tremendous impact on the Chesapeake Bay, with farm runoff the single largest source of pollution in the estuary. And so Maryland, four years ago, imposed regulations to require farmers to mix and incorporate manure into the soil of their fields to reduce runoff, and prohibit spreading in the winter when the ground is frozen and crops can’t absorb it.
The pollution control rules were to take effect July 1. But because Fry and his allies complained to Governor Hogan’s administration about the cost to the state’s 430 dairy farmers, the administration has proposed to weaken the regulations. "Those regulations would have driven those dairy farmers out of business," Fry argued, explaining the rules require the construction of manure storage tanks that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.