The Worcester County, Md., Commissioners are sending the state a letter of protest about an emergency regulation that could immediately limit the use of chicken manure on state farms.

The Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review will hold an emergency hearing Aug. 28 in Annapolis regarding new regulations on the Phosphorous Management Tool. It could impact the current Nutrient Management Plans required of all farmers in the state, reports

The letter comes in response to a request from County Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who said that limiting the use of chicken manure would require farmers to buy commercial fertilizer at a cost of about $110-$150 per acre, and would cut significantly into profits.

“This will have a dramatic impact on growers,” said Shockley, a chicken farmer. “It came out of nowhere. Why is it an emergency all of a sudden? We need to slow down and get some facts.”

Maryland farmers are required to test their soil for phosphorus content before spreading chicken manure as fertilizer for their corn crops. Currently, if the phosphorus content is high, farmers can spread only the amount of manure the corn crop would use for that season. The new regulation would prohibit farmers from applying manure at all if the phosphorus content of their soil is too high.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture was planning on implementing the new regulation immediately, until committee member Sen. Richard Colburn, R-D37-Dorchester, asked for the public hearing.

“This regulation would crush the Delmarva poultry industry,” Colburn said. “It would put ( farmers) at an extreme economic disadvantage.”

Colburn wants to know why the Department of Agriculture is pushing this measure though so quickly.

“Why introduce it as an emergency regulation? What’s the rush?” he said.