2015 Agriculture and Environmental Law Conference – By Sarah Everhart
It was standing room only at ALEI’s first annual 2015 Agriculture and Environmental Law Conference on November 20. The conference covered a wide variety of topics, including challenges facing today’s aquaculture farmers, phosphorus management, and the law and policy of anaerobic digesters.
The day began with an informative presentation on aquaculture by Donald Webster, University of Maryland Regional Extension Specialist. Webster’s presentation traced the interesting history of aquaculture in Maryland and thoughtfully framed the challenges facing today’s aquaculture farmers.
Webster’s presentation was followed by John Swaine, III, a third generation Talbot County farmer who spoke of his experiences farming 1,800 acres and use of on-farm conservation practices. Swaine has incorporated a variety of best management practices into his agriculture operation, including but not limited to grass buffers, two-stage ditches, and restored wetlands. Swaine described the challenge of overcoming public misconceptions about the environmental impacts of modern farming. Swaine said he farms with the health of nearby water bodies in mind and implements conservation practices to preserve and enhance water quality.
Gary Kelman, Chief, Animal Feeding Operation Division, Maryland Department of the Environment, was the next presenter; he deftly explained the complex topic of concentrated animal feeding operations and the Maryland permits affecting those operations.
Anthony Gorksi, Esq. a partner at Rich and Henderson, P.C. presided over an agriculture and environmental law hot topics session. Gorski shared his perspectives gained after decades of representing farmers navigating federal and state environmental regulations.
After a full morning, conference attendees enjoyed networking and socializing over a lunch of locally sourced foods, including apple cider doughnuts from Millburn Orchards, cheddar cheese from Chapel’s Country Creamery, and ham from Bohemia Lea Farms.
Following lunch, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder the conference attendees about the State’s efforts to implement the Phosphorus Management Tool. Secretary Bartenfelder was hopeful that the State’s interest in encouraging innovative manure disposal technologies will aid farmers in dealing with disposal of excess nutrients.
A panel discussion focused on the law, policy, and science of anaerobic digesters followed. The panelists, Gary Kelman, Stephanie Lansing, Ph.D, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology and Bill Paul, chief of the Metallurgical Division, Air & Radiation Management, Maryland Department of the Environment, provided an expert overview of this innovative and popular technology.
The conference closed with a presentation from Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles on the top 10 reasons for nutrient credit trading in Maryland.
ALEI thanks all presenters and attendees for their contribution to a memorable conference.
2015 Mid-Atlantic Precision Agriculture Equipment Field Day – By Ashley Newhall
ALEI members Paul Goeringer and Ashley Newhall made their way to the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Precision Agriculture Equipment Field Day in Princess Anne at the Somerset County Civic Center August 5. This event highlighted the exciting field of precision agriculture with presentations ranging from soil sampling to a live drone demonstration. As this industry has rapidly evolved, so have the legal issues that often come with new technology. That is where Goeringer and Newhall stepped in.
Newhall’s presentation, entitled “Big Data: Legal Issues for Agriculture,” addressed many concerns being asked by farmers concerning their respective farm data. First, what is this “big data” term which industry keeps using and what does it mean? “Big data” is generally aggregated data gathered from numerous farming operations. The concerns Newhall addressed varied from ownership of the farm data to what to consider when forming a contract with respective agriculture technology providers, such as John Deere or Monsanto. Since there are no laws on the books, Newhall’s presentation was informational and designed to get farmers thinking more seriously about rights in regards to their farm data.
Goeringer’s presentation, “Legal issues with UAVs/Drones,” answered a frequently asked question from farmers: “Can I shoot a drone that flies over my property?” Although many people in the audience found this portion of Goeringer’s presentation entertaining, it is a highly problematic issue not only in Maryland, but across the country, Goeringer explained. He emphasized that farmers should not, for any reason, shoot a drone. Goeringer also focused on the current Federal regulations that the FAA has imposed on drones as well as privacy issues at the forefront of farmers’ concerns.
For more information on these issues, take a look at the posts on the Maryland Risk Management Education Blog entitled “Big Data: What’s the Big Deal?”, “Farm Leases and Big Data: Issues That Cannot Be Settled By A Handshake” and “Privacy and The Use of Drones in Agriculture”.
Securing the Farm Workshops Held for Maryland Poultry Growers – By Paul Goeringer
ALEI partnered with the University of Maryland Extension’s Maryland Poultry program in August to host two workshops geared at aiding poultry growers in understanding how to secure their farms. The workshops focused on how to properly hire and terminate employees, and reviewed security resources available to monitor their farm. The workshops were held in Centreville and Princess Anne with 30 growers attending the two meetings.
As potential employers, poultry growers don’t often consider how to properly hire employees, utilizing background checks and developing practices that limit the employees’ ability to cause damage to the employer. At the same time, bad employees slip through the cracks from time to time, so growers must understand how to properly discipline and terminate an employee. ALEI partners Ashley Newhall and Paul Goeringer covered hiring and firing practices for the workshops.
Also covered was how to monitor and secure your farm through surveillance equipment, such as hidden cameras, motion detectors, or simply moving equipment out of view. Joe Branham of Tomahawk Farms, a retired law enforcement officer, discussed tricks and techniques utilized on his own diversified poultry operation. Both sets of topics exposed the attendees to a wealth of information that can aid them in better protecting their farms.
ALEI Expands Team, Welcomes Four New Experts – By Sarah Everhart
Four new members have joined ALEI, helping the organization grow its capabilities and expertise in fields from farm brewing to pollution.
Mayhah Suri has joined ALEI as a research associate based at the College Park campus. In the Spring of 2015, Suri graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science and Policy. She has previously worked at Maryland Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a variety of sustainability-focused non-profit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area. At ALEI, Suri supports the work of the legal specialists through research assistance and helping to manage the Maryland Risk Management Education Blog. Suri is also the resident ALEI specialist on farm brewing; having drafted the recently published “Microbreweries and the New Class 8 Farm Brewery License”. Outside of work, Suri is passionate about food, including trying new recipes and new restaurants, and food justice issues. She is also a lifelong dancer and traveler.
Faiza Hasan is the 2015-2016 ALEI legal intern and is currently attending the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree in Supply Chain Management and a minor in Technology Entrepreneurship. At ALEI, Hasan assists the legal specialists with legal research and writing and for publications and presentations. Her hobbies outside of school include, being around family and friends, being able to travel, being able to play her favorite sport, basketball, and being able to cheer on her favorite sports teams (Baltimore Ravens & Washington Wizards).
Kingsley Ejiogu is an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s (UMES) Department of Criminal Justice. He earned his Ph.D. from the School of Public Affairs at the Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. Dr. Ejiogu has interdisciplinary training in Biology, Biotechnology, Environmental Control, Geographic Information Systems, and Administration Justice. His research interests includes International Justice Governance, Conflicts Management and Environmental Control. Last summer Dr. Ejiogu became affiliated with the UMES ALEI Team. His research at ALEI adopts a critical and integrated approach to broadly examine the agents of Chesapeake Bay pollution in the context of the watershed areas agro-environmental conflicts. His most recent research Understanding the Socio-Economic Challenges of the Maryland Agricultural Community is under review for Factsheet publication. Dr. Ejiogu was featured at the UMES’ SANS Seminar in November 2015 where he explored the social complexity of the Bay’s agricultural communities and the influence of changing land use patterns. Dr. Ejiogu’s life long hobby is reading, and writing poetry. He is presently concluding work on a historical fictional book which has received exciting interest from a number of top rated publishers.
Dan Sweeney joined ALEI in 2014, and is currently working on a Masters in Natural Resource Economics at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). Sweeney became interested in the ALEI initiative because of relevant conflicts in land use issues, the critical role of food production in society, the legal rights and responsibilities of farmers, and the differences between urban vs. rural populations in regards to natural resources. He received his undergraduate from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2002 and has since worked as an independent research analyst /writer, small business manager, legislative aide in the Maryland General Assembly, legal assistant, and marketing & communications intern. Sweeney is also currently involved with a Coastal SEES project that seeks sustainability by working with stakeholders to develop policy goals through collaborative means. He assists the UMES ALEI Working Group. Sweeney lives in Easton, MD and enjoys his children, family, fishing, hiking, cooking, gardening, woodworking, and music.
Quarterly Update Archive
Agriculture Law Education Initiative July 2015 Quarterly Update
Agriculture Law Education Initiative June 2014 Quarterly Update
Agriculture Law Education Initiative March 2014 Quarterly Update