BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. - He’s been up since 2:30 in the morning, and Ned Ensor will work until dark running his small dairy farm in Baltimore County.
After all, he has no choice.
"It's getting harder and harder to compete,” said Ensor, “The price of milk is declining too and all our other inputs---energy costs are all increasing, feed costs are going up so it's definitely harder."
New regulations designed to clean up the Chesapeake Bay may make Ensor’s job even tougher.
The state plans to prohibit livestock owners from spreading fertilizer four months out of the year forcing them to store manure instead.
"One farmer got an estimate that it would cost up to $100,000 just to add twelve inches to his manure storage tank,” said Senator Barry Glassman (R-Harford County).
Glassman adds that measure coupled with a rule, which would make farmers fence around streams on their property---denying their use for planting, irrigation or watering animals could spell the further demise of Maryland agriculture.
"Since the Eighties we've seen about a 50% reduction in the cattle population in Maryland... a 90% reduction in hog and swine production."
Maryland farmers already lead the nation in the use of cover crops to keep nutrients from spilling into the bay, and many take exception to claims that paint them as polluters.
"You know it's easy to blame the farmers for all of the problems on the Bay, but we do a good job with our nutrient management. Fertilizer costs too much to waste and we're not wasting it," said Ensor, "As far as farmers being the problem with the pollution in the bay, I think that's a bunch of crap."
Critics of the new rules say the farmers’ coop may file a federal suit against the state for rendering some of their land useless without paying them for it.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Woman whose child care license was revoked sheds light on state's discipline process.
Flip open the dictionary to the word new and you'll see Webster says it means, “Having existed or having been made but a short time."
At first it seemed to be just a house fire in the 5700 block of Highgate Drive in Northwest Baltimore.
More Harford County Crime Reports