Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's political campaigning in Iowa, a farming capital of the U.S., has sparked complaints from some environmentalists, who claim that he is pandering to the powerful farm lobby.
Michele Merkel, co-director of the justice program at Food & Water Watch, accused O'Malley of avoiding action in his own state to regulate manure from Maryland’s huge poultry industry, which is polluting the Chesapeake BayFor example, she said, the governor in 2013 signed a law – sought by farmers and their allies -- called the “Agricultural Certainty Act.” It provides exemptions from any new pollution control regulations for farms that meet minimum requirements.
The O’Malley administration also twice delayed poultry manure regulations that would prohibit the spreading of more poultry waste on Eastern Shore fields that are already overloaded with phosphorus from chicken litter.
O'Malley's Secretary of Agriculture, Buddy Hance, however argues that the O'Malley Administration has made real strides toward preventing runoff pollution from farms.
For example, Hance said, the state issued regulations prohibiting the spreading of manure in the winter, and required water pollution control permits for 80 percent of the large poultry farms in Maryland.
Hance said the administration may still issue the long-delayed manure management regulations to control phosphorus -- after conducting an economic impact study to determine the cost for farmers.