Bird flu again hits Delaware, Maryland, and Missouri

Some 3 million birds, almost all of them chickens and turkeys, have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza since the first confirmation of the disease in domestic flocks on Feb. 8, said a USDA agency on Wednesday. The latest outbreaks involved 442,000 chickens and turkeys on farms in Delaware, Maryland, and Missouri.

Time running out for Chesapeake Bay cleanup

At their current pace, the three major states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, responsible for 90 percent of pollution in the bay, will miss their targets for reducing sediment and nutrient runoff by 2025, said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Wednesday. Maryland and Virginia need to step up efforts to address agricultural pollution, and "Pennsylvania remains far off track," the foundation said.

Across the country, a call grows for moratoriums on huge livestock farms

As the number of massive livestock farms balloons in states like Iowa, Maryland, and Nebraska, communities are scrambling to figure out how to control the pollution and waste produced by thousands — or tens of thousands — of animals. In some places, officials have opted to ban the mega-farms altogether, and the idea of a moratorium on the biggest animal farms is gaining support in local governments, statehouses, and even in Congress. (No paywall)

In Maryland, poultry industry monitoring initiative restarts debate

In recent years, agribusiness groups have fought legislation that would require large-scale livestock farms to report what pollutants they discharge into the air. But this week, a Maryland poultry industry group announced a partnership with the state’s environmental regulators to monitor those emissions. (No paywall)

Rising seas pushing saltwater into historic farms on Chesapeake Bay

As sea levels rise and the land subsides, America's first colonial farms—350-year-old tracts along Maryland's eastern shore—are being inundated with saltwater, threatening the corn and soybean crops while salt-tolerant plants grow six feet tall, reports FERN's latest story, published with The Atlantic.

Tyson farm proposal defeated in Maryland

After two years of community protests, a proposal to build 13 chicken houses on a farm in Wicomico County, Maryland, was defeated last week. Neighbors worried about potential air and groundwater pollution from the influx of chickens.

Maryland governor signs law banning oil and gas fracking

Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law a ban on hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in oil and gas production in Maryland, said the Associated Press. "Supporters of the ban said it was the first in the nation approved by a legislature in a state that has natural gas underground."

Democrats add Van Hollen to Senate Agriculture Committee

Newly elected Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland will be the only Democratic newcomer on the Senate Agriculture Committee in the two-year session that opens Jan. 3, according to party leaders. Van Hollen will be the 10th Democrat on the committee, reflecting the closer balance of power between the Republican majority and Democratic minority.

Partial ban on neonic pesticides advances in Maryland

The state Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill, SB 198, that would make Maryland "the first state in the United States to place a partial ban on the sale of certain pesticides, which have been blamed for deaths of bees around the world," says public broadcaster WAMU-FM.

Ohio lawmakers aim to reduce nutrient runoff from farms

The Ohio House and Senate are expected to vote this week on legislation intended to reduce toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie by reducing farm runoff, says the Associated Press.

Risk of biofuel crops turning invasive; controls needed

There are few federal or state safeguards against the introduction of an invasive species as a biofuel crop, say researchers at the University of Illinois in two newly published papers.