After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

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Category Archives: Maryland Department of Agriculture

Senior Scientists & Policymakers Continue Press for Revised Nutrient Management Regulations

(Posted by Dawn Stoltzfus.)

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is generally viewed as a friend of the environment. He has championed initiatives on growth, wastewater treatment, renewable energy, climate change, funding for environmental programs and other issues. He earned a grade of B+ from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. But, many believe that the Administration has done too little to address Chesapeake Bay pollution from the agriculture sector, which accounts for nearly half of the pollution entering the bay.

A revision of rules regulating the spreading of manure on farmland is long overdue. Here is a recent letter from the Executive Committee of the Senior Scientists and Policymakers for the Bay urging the Governor to issue rules that treat manure in much the same way as sewage sludge.Continue Reading

Sprawl Poisons the Bay

(Posted by Gerald Winegrad).

The recent deluges leading to massive stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay may cause great damage to an already seriously impaired system. We previously have discussed in this spot the huge flows of Bay-choking nutrients and sediment from farms each time it rains. Now, we will devote discussions to the pollution flowing from developed lands including huge amounts of nutrients, sediment, and toxic chemicals.

The Chesapeake’s watershed before 1607 was 95 percent forested with huge acreage of intact wetlands. These forests and wetlands absorbed and held nutrients and sediment. The flow of these Bay-killing pollutants was greatly accelerated due to enormous changes in land use when we converted forests and wetlands to agriculture and then, more recently, to development. The Bay region has since lost about 50 percent of its forest cover and 72 percent of its wetlands. No change has been more devastating for the Bay.Continue Reading

What Does Agribusiness Have to Hide?

(Posted by Scott Edwards.)
When it comes to big agribusiness and access to public information, the Chesapeake region is sadly part of a disturbing pattern that exists all across the country. And signs are it might be getting even worse.

Polluting industries are generally subject to a good amount of public transparency and disclosure about their practices, what types of materials they handle, how they dispose of their wastes, etc. Unfortunately, agribusiness has always enjoyed a level of state-sponsored secrecy that serves to undermine this general right of public access. The poor excuses for concealment offered by state departments of agriculture and environment and industry range from national security to trade secrets or, more often than not, no excuse at all.
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Chesapeake Bay: An Open Toilet

(Posted by Scott Edwards.)

The old grey mare just ain’t what she used to be. And for that matter, neither are those chickens. Or the cows. And you just wouldn’t recognize the pigs. Even if you could see them. But you can’t. Because they spend their entire, short life in darkened, crowded, filthy sheds. Nope, farms just aren’t what they used to be. In fact, they aren’t really even farms anymore. They’re factories. Every bit as much a factory as a papermill. Or a chemical processing plant. Put away your pastoral picture book – there’s nothing quaint or country about them.
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