ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — The Maryland Department of Agriculture is withdrawing proposed fertilizer regulations.
The department announced Friday that it was taking the step as a result of concerns raised during the public comment process on the regulation that would make major changes to how farmers can apply poultry manure to crops. It will work with stakeholders to revise the regulation and resubmit the proposal in 2014.
The proposal sparked angry protests from many farmers concerned about the cost and logistics. The Maryland Farm Bureau, a private, nonprofit organization, applauded the move, but noted that the fight is not over.
"We are pleased that MDA and the Governor recognize the impact of the proposed change on farmers and withdrew the proposal," bureau president Patricia Langenfelder said in a statement.
The changes proposed in December were based on about a decade of University of Maryland research into how phosphorous moves through soil. They are meant to be an element of the state's plan for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
Officials are confident in the science behind the proposed rules and remain committed to adopting them, Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said in a statement.
"The Administration stands behind our commitment to (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) to implement a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) that ultimately provides for a healthy Chesapeake Bay," Hance said. "We will meet our Chesapeake Bay restoration goals, taking every step possible to protect water quality and ensure the viability of our family farms in Maryland."