Changing Times on the Environmental Front

Chesapeake Bay

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has targeted agriculture in the mid-Atlantic in yet another attempt to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. With increased regulations come increased challenges for farmers in that area to stay in business.

U.S. soybean farmers have to look at the environmental aspects of their operations now more than ever. Some states, including Maryland, have enacted mandatory nutrient-management programs. Regulations on manure and other nutrients affect how farmers operate.

“What we are doing in Maryland is part of the Clean Water Act, which requires EPA to achieve the goal of clean water,” says Lynne Hoot, executive director of the Maryland Association of Soil Conversation Districts. “Because this is national legislation, every farmer should be aware of how this will affect their farming operation.”

“Our farm is required to have a nutrient-management plan and we are restricted on when we can haul, how we can store and where we can spread manure,” says Steve Ernst, a soybean and livestock farmer from Clear Spring, Md., less than 100 miles from the Chesapeake.

Many farmers already participate in voluntary soil and water conservation programs to demonstrate that farmers routinely and voluntarily go above and beyond the letter of the law where the environment is concerned. “Voluntary programs help show that we care about our farms and that we live and die by our land,” added Ernst.