A few NAG supporters attended the County Council meeting on September 20. Although the issue of DAF storage was not on the agenda, we were able to point out our serious concerns regarding the County's Bill 2022-10, otherwise known as the Prohibition Bill. During the public comment period we made the following suggestions:
1. Abolish or amend Section E.3.
As written, this section will allow a farmer or farming business (both undefined), located anywhere in the Agricultural Zone 1 (A-1) to have any type of open top storage of liquid fertilizer or soil amendments (the County’s definition of DAF). This includes lagoons as well as tanks. There would be no Special Exception, no restrictions whatsoever, no Public Hearing or comment period, NO NOTIFICATION PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION TO AREA RESIDENTS! In fact, this is worse than what we have now because it codifies unrestricted DAF storage. This is not a prohibition!
2. Amend the definition of Open Top Storage Tanks to reflect any type of Open Top Storage, including lagoons.
As written in Bill 2022-10, storage is cited 3 different ways: “open top storage”, “open top storage tanks” and finally that the open top storage tanks must be “above ground”. Describing storage as such is confusing at best and will allow lagoons anywhere under any circumstances.
3. Amend the confusing definition of DAF (waste or residuals created in the Dissolved Air Flotation process.)
Section E.1.b states the liquid organic fertilizer or soil amendment is “produced from poultry or other animal processing residuals via a dissolved air flotation process”. First, this definition does not include the DAF waste created from the rendering process. That is crucial to our argument because a significant amount of DAF stored in the tank on Porter Mill Rd includes waste originating at Valley Proteins in Linkwood, a rendering plant.
The draft legislation NAG submitted to the County Council on August 31 and asked them to include in the Briefing Book, offers a much more concise definition of DAF. It does not sweep in liquid fertilizers (Maryland Department of Agriculture DOES NOT classify DAF as a fertilizer). Our bill narrowly defines DAF to prevent the unintended consequences of sweeping in legitimate agricultural products.
4. Argument that prohibition violates the Right to Farm Bill is weak
The tank on Porter Mill Rd, as best we can establish, is the first tank PERMITTED to specifically store DAF. All other DAF storage tanks are converted cow slurry tanks, storing the manure produced on the farm and mostly used on the farm. When the dairies went out of business, they were approached by Denali to convert to storing DAF. Cow slurry and DAF are created in totally different ways. Therefore, the permitting of a tank to store DAF is not “customary and usual”.
The State of Maryland regulates, by the nutrient management plan, the APPLICATION of DAF to farmland. They in no way regulate the storage of DAF. In fact, in a publication published by Maryland Extension, What the Heck is D.A.F.?, the Maryland Department of Agriculture states that it “is only involved in the registration of soil amendments and the regulation of land applications. Issues regarding storage facilities and transportation issues are typically regulated by local jurisdictions.” The County has the jurisdiction over zoning issues and the authority to limit or prohibit the storage of DAF.
NAG’s draft legislation, as submitted to the County Council on August 31, was concisely written to be narrow in scope, prohibiting only the open storage of DAF and will not in any way encroach on a farmer’s right to farm, now or in the future.