Agricultural Certainty Program
In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation to establish a voluntary Agricultural Certainty Program that will give Maryland farmers a 10-year exemption from new environmental laws and regulations in return for installing best management practices in order to meet local or Chesapeake Bay Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) goals ahead of schedule.
The program allows participating farmers to conduct business in a predictable regulatory setting, while providing certainty that agricultural pollution controls are being implemented. Farmers must control all nutrient and sediment problems on farms using a Soil Conservation and Water Qualit Plan and a current Nutrient Management Plan.
Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP)
The Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) has established the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) to acknowledge those farmers who are good stewards of their natural resources and to encourage and reward farmers to put more conservation best management practices (BMPs) on the land.
Ag Land Preservation (MALPF)
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) was one of the first created in the United States and has become one of the nation's leaders in agricultural land preservation.
Created by the General Assembly in 1977, MALPF purchases agricultural preservation easements that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland and has permanently preserved land in each of Maryland's 23 counties, representing a public investment of over $662 million. At the end of FY 2015, MALPF has purchased easements on a cumulative total of 2,187 properties, permanently preserving about 296,682 acres.
Nutrient Trading Program
Nutrient trading is a form of exchange (buying & selling) of nutrient reduction credits. These credits have a monetary value that may be paid to the seller for installing Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce nitrogen or phosphorous. In general, water quality trading utilizes a market-based approach that allows one source to maintain its regulatory obligations by using pollution reductions created by another source. As a market-based approach, increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness are achieved by letting the market determine costs. To achieve a desired load reduction, trades can take place between point sources (usually wastewater treatment plants), between point and nonpoint sources (a wastewater treatment plant and a farming operation) or between nonpoint sources (such as agriculture and urban stormwater sites or systems).