Updated: Nov 5, 2020
By Sarah Everhart
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The Conference, hosted by the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), will bring agricultural, environmental, and legal professionals together to examine the complex network of laws facing the State’s largest industry. Agriculture is Maryland’s largest commercial industry, contributing more than $17 billion in revenue each year and spanning over 2 million acres. Maryland has more than 12,000 farm operators that must navigate diverse areas of the law to run legally sound and successful operations. The ALEI team created this event to evoke a lively discussion about the network of environmental laws affecting Maryland’s agricultural businesses.
Instead of a keynote speaker, this year’s conference will feature a keynote panel: “Emerging Opportunities in Ecosystem Trading Markets”. Experts in water, carbon, and nutrient quality trading systems will discuss trades happening in Maryland – including the first soil-carbon deal in the new Ecosystem Services Market Consortium – and explain how farmers and aquaculture growers can prepare themselves to take advantage of trading opportunities. Participating in these markets has the potential to provide much needed additional farm income, but requires an understanding of the regulatory frameworks. Panelists include: Dr. Kris Johnson, Deputy Director, North America Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy; Dr. Lisa Wainger, Research Professor, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Suzanne Dorsey, Assistant Secretary, Maryland Department of Environment’s Assistant Secretary; and Matthew Clagett, Assistant Attorney General, Maryland Department of Environment.
Another panel at the conference will focus on the roles of the local and State governments in siting solar arrays in Maryland. Given the recent Court of Appeals decision, Board of County Commissioners of Washington County v. Perennial Solar, LLC, many practitioners have questions regarding how the decision will impact the siting process. Attendees will hear from experts about how county, state, and private interests will be affected by Perennial Solar, LLC and recent legislative developments from the Task Force on Renewable Energy Development & Siting.
Two panels will focus on land use law issues. A panel for urban farmers will give an overview of the legal challenges to buying and leasing land in Maryland, and the various liability risks that can arise. A highlight of this panel will be students from the Maryland Carey Environmental Law Clinic who will discuss the work they have done to help urban farmers in Baltimore. The second land use panel will focus on farms subject to conservation easements. The panel will provide an overview of how farmers can diversify their land uses while remaining in compliance with easements.
The conference will also include a “hot topics” type panel featuring recent changes to Maryland’s nutrient management and confined animal feeding operation laws, and developing agricultural and environmental issues to watch out for in 2020. How farmers can navigate neighbor relations and Right-to-Farm type claims will also be analyzed in a panel.
The conference will be held on Thursday, November 14, 2019 from 8 am – 3 pm at the Crowne Plaza Annapolis, 173 Jennifer Road, Annapolis, MD 21401. For more information or to register, please visit https://go.umd.edu/aleiconf2019registration.