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The deal reached between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democrats in the General Assembly to cut pollutants flowing into the Chesapeake Bay from farms is a positive step that will prove beneficial to the environment while still providing farmers with some leeway in implementing the plan.

Hogan opposed a new "phosphorus management tool" that former Gov. Martin O'Malley attempted to get approved just before leaving office. Hogan stopped the regulations and promised farmers that he would listen to their concerns. Hogan's alternate plan provided more time for farmers to implement the pollution-cutting requirements. But Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat, introduced a bill to implement O'Malley's plan and that bill was making its way through the legislature. Pinsky argued that Hogan's plan included too many delays in implementation.

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Under the agreement reached Wednesday, some farmers will still be able to delay implementation, but the farms that are most polluted from excess chicken manure will have to stop applying more immediately. All farmers will have to reduce pollutants by 2022.

Chicken manure is rich in nutrients that can help crops grow, but too much on the fields results in runoff that eventually makes its way into the Chesapeake, contributing to algae blooms and spawning dead zones that diminish the Bay's quality.

From the beginning, Hogan wanted to make sure that provisions were included to handle the excess chicken manure that farmers would no longer be able to spread on fields. Those provisions are still in place under the agreement, and an advisory committee will be created to make determinations in cases where farmers say more time is needed.

The bi-partisan effort to reach compromise illustrates Hogan's approach since taking office, and the deal is a positive sign as lawmakers look forward to ironing out differences in the Governor's proposed budget over spending.

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