Farmers fight bay polluter image
'Everyone's in this ballgame, not just farmers'
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer
More than 200 farmers have penned a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley, urging him to work with them - and not against them - when it comes to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
"We want everyone to realize everyone's in this ballgame, not just farmers," said Maryland Farm Bureau President Patricia Langenfelder of Kent County.
The farm bureau organized the petition effort, which grew from farmers' frustration at constantly being blamed for the bay's unhealthy state. The petition was delivered on Wednesday.
Shaun Adamec, an O'Malley spokesman, said the governor acknowledges the contributions farmers have made toward reducing pollution.
"There's nobody more appreciative of farmers than the governor when it comes to cleaning up the bay," Adamec said.
The petition was intended mainly to counteract negative attention that has been cast on farmers, Langenfelder said.
Farmers have built manure storage structures, planted buffers along streams, grown winter cover crops and instituted other "best management practices" to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution, Langenfelder said.
She noted that nutrient and sediment pollution from farms has decreased over the years due to such practices. Meanwhile, other sources of pollution - particularly urban and suburban stormwater runoff - are increasing.
Farming contributes just 7 percent of nitrogen in the Lower Western Shore. The top polluter locally is stormwater runoff - rainwater that rushes across roofs, parking lots and streets, carrying pollution into waterways. That contributes nearly 44 percent. Read More
It’s undeserved, but agriculture gets the blame for many things that they shouldn’t when it comes to pollution. The main reason is that they are the easiest target. Even though ag is the foundation of our entire society, since so few people are involved it makes it easy for the majority to attack. The top polluter for the bay is runoff from urban areas. If they really want to make a difference, they should start there.