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2018 Maryland Legislative Priorities

Fair Farms is following a wide array of legislation in the Maryland General Assembly, which is holding a 90-day session through April 9, 2018. We hope that you will be an involved participant in the legislative process this session. Write and call your legislators, submit testimony, and support bills by talking with family and friends and encouraging them to get involved!

Community Healthy Air Act (SB 133/HB 26)

Industrial Poultry Houses - USDA PhotoEveryone deserves the right to know if the air they breathe could be making them sick. While the state of Maryland monitors air pollution from cars and factories, the same cannot be said for one of Maryland’s largest industries that also emits pollutants – industrial animal agriculture.

The Community Healthy Air Act would require the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct a one-time study that identifies air pollutants emitted by large animal feeding operations and assesses any potential public health risks.

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Funding: Maryland Farms and Families Act

Farmers Market Double Bucks TokenThe Maryland Farms and Families Act is a new law on the books, passed unanimously through the General Assembly during the last legislative session and signed by Governor Hogan in May 2017. The law creates a grant program that would match farmers market purchases made with federal nutrition benefits, such as SNAP (food stamps)—supporting both local farmers and low-income families.

The Governor did not include program funding in his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget, but the General Assembly has the power to ensure this deserving and popular program receives funding during the current legislative session.

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Pesticides – Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition (HB 116)

Airplane Spraying Wheat CropsChlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide proven to cause brain damage in children and known to harm the environment and wildlife. It is found in air and water—and people’s bodies.  In 2015, after extensive study, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists recommended that the pesticide be banned for all uses. Despite this, Scott Pruitt—the head of the EPA appointed by President Trump—overrode the recommendations of his own scientists and reversed the decision to ban chlorpyrifos.

Delegate Dana Stein’s House Bill 116 would prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos in Maryland beginning on January 1, 2019.

Agriculture – Industrial Hemp Pilot Program – Establishment (HB 698/SB 1201)

Hemp SeedsOften misunderstood, hemp has immense promise in supporting and diversifying Maryland’s agriculture industry, restoring our environment, and bringing new jobs to the state. Hemp can be used to sustainably produce food, textiles, medicine, and more. One thing it can’t do? Get you high 🙂

This program would allow Maryland farmers to grow and sell hemp in partnership with the Department of Agriculture or a higher education institution, creating a more sustainable, resilient, and economically viable food system.

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See our policy successes from the 2017 legislative session.