Del. Kerr To Introduce Cover Crops Bill In 2020 Session

It will allow farmers growing cover crops to harvest & sell them.


Frederick, Md (KM). He hopes the second time will be the charm. Frederick County Delegate Ken Kerr (D) says he will re-introduce his bill next year to allow farmers growing cover crops to harvest them. The state pays them $75 per acre to grow these crops, usually barley and rye, which prevent soil runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. “But the caveat is that if they take the $75, they can’t harvest the crop. They have to let it die in the field,” he says.

Kerr says his bill will let farmers who grow cover crops to harvest them. He says there’s a ready market for these crops. “Frederick County, we have the most distilleries and breweries of any county in the state, and they require barley and rye. So we have hundreds of acres of barley and rye rotting in the field and we’re importing barley and rye for our craft beverage industry in the state at large, but here in Frederick County, especially,” says Kerr.

The bill was introduced during the 2019 Maryland General Assembly, but Kerr say the Maryland Department of Agriculture asked that it be withdrawn. “They weren’t ready for the bill. They asked me to withdrawn it, meet with them over the summer and reintroduce it this year,” he says.

Kerr says that bill has been revised, and he plans to introduced the legislation during the 2020 General Assembly Session beginning next month. He says his bill will limit harvesting to farmers who are growing malting barley and malting rye as cover crops. “If we allow farmers the freedom to experiment, knowing they’re not going to lose money on the crop if the crop fails, then we can do some research and find out which of these strains are going to grow best in which regions. And we can begin to be self-sufficient for our craft beverage industry with these malting grains,” says Kerr.

“Tullow barley is what the breweries prefer, and it’s really hard to grow in Maryland,” Kerr says. “So there are several strains. And so what need to do is find out which of these strains grow best in which soil conditions and which microclimates.”

Delegate Kerr says he’s in the process of drafting this bill.

The 2020 Maryland General Assembly convenes for its 90-day session on January 8th.


By Kevin McManus