Last week, Maryland Grain Producers Association Executive Director Lynne Hoot testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry.

The hearing focused on agriculture’s ongoing efforts to meet EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

“The agriculture industry has consistently outpaced most other sectors in reducing nutrient loads,” Hoot said. “In the latest Chesapeake Bay model run, Maryland farmers had reduced nitrogen loads by 62 percent, phosphorus loads by 73 percent and sediment loads to the Bay by 59 percent.”

Throughout her testimony, Hoot gave an overview of the voluntary conservation practices that have been broadly adopted in Maryland, but also emphasized that water quality goals could not be met without significant USDA funding. She also pointed out that EPA's time frame for the Phase II Watershed Improvement Plans (WIPs) is unrealistic. In less than six months, Maryland must develop 58 WIPs, representing every county and all Bay sub-watersheds.

“This past fall, Maryland farmers broke all records and installed roughly 400,000 acres of cover crops to protect water quality,” Hoot said. “Maryland boasts having over 80 percent no-till cultivation, which is one of the highest adoption rates of any state in the country. The country is watching us; we want to prove that agriculture can do what is necessary as long as it is reasonable, science-based and we are provided with adequate technical and financial assistance.”