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A farmer's perspective on phosphorous management

From the time I graduated from college and returned to the farm, I have been dealing with government regulations, environmental extremists and animal rights activists.

Over the years I have seen farmers (myself included) negotiate and give in little by little to the government on regulations, many of which were introduced by the extremists and activists mentioned above.

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Of course in Maryland it is never enough. Finish with one regulation and a new one comes up the next week. Well, I along with many farmers say enough is enough.

Farmers like to deal with proven facts and not models that keep being disproved. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to provide farmers with the scientific data that supports the proposed Phosphorous Management Tool ("Perdue's ruffled feathers," Sept. 22).

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Why not, you ask? For starters Josh McGrath, the lead scientist on the PMT, left the University of Maryland due to pressure from the state government to have his results lean a certain way.

You see, Gov. Martin O'Malley promised certain environmental groups that he would put the PMT into effect before he leaves office no matter what. As if that wasn't enough to outrage Eastern Shore farmers we have heard our state secretary of agriculture say "it's not fair that Eastern Shore farmers have a cheaper source of fertilizer than Western Shore farmers."

Wait, I thought the PMT was all about the phosphorus, Mr. Secretary.

Eastern Shore farmers aren't totally against the PMT. We are just asking for it to be science driven and not political science driven. Mr. McGrath is still working on the PMT at the University of Kentucky, and we will be interested in the results when he finishes.

So now I will make a prediction. Governor O'Malley will not do anything about the PMT until after elections in November with hopes to keep Sen. Jim Mathias, Del. Norm Conway and possibly some other Democrats in office. Then by executive order or by some means, the PMT will be implemented. It won't matter what the economic study shows. That was just a joke of a hurdle they had to complete to get to their goal. In the end the bay will still get a C- or a D+ every year from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. After all they need to protect their jobs and have a reason to ask for your donations. All Eastern Shore farmers are asking for is a fair shake and nothing more.

Lee Richardson, Willards

The writer is a Wicomico County grain and poultry farmer.

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