Tag: Urban agriculture

Maryland Farm Bureau Meets with Governor Hogan

Maryland Farm Bureau Meets with Governor Hogan
Organization shares its top concerns on agriculture in Maryland

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (March 28, 2022) — Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) board directors, committee members and staff were honored to meet with Governor Larry Hogan and his key agriculture cabinet last week for their annual fireside chat to discuss how policies affect farmers in the state.

MDFB’s representatives shared their top concerns on topics like the agricultural scrap tire recycling program and Agricultural Education. These issues, among others, require policies that allow farmers to produce food in the most efficient way that also keeps the land, waterways and air healthy.

“We want to thank Governor Hogan for giving the farming community a seat at the table for the past seven years,” said John Draper, MDFB first vice president. “With him keeping his campaign promise to end the war on rural Maryland and agriculture, we have been blessed to have the support of our governor.”

The organization expressed the need for additional funds to be added to this year’s budget to cover the cost of its tire recycling program through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). MDE and the Maryland Environmental Service are offering the tire recycling program to seven counties this spring. The agriculture community is seeking funding to expand the program to the remaining 16 counties.

MDFB representatives spoke to Governor Hogan about the importance of Ag Education in Maryland’s public schools, with a hopeful expansion into middle schools. With the incorporation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation starting to take effect, MDFB hopes to see Ag Education remain part of Career Technology Education, but also become part of the overall approved science curriculum.

The board also thanked Governor Hogan and his administration for the various programs and assistance they have offered over the last seven years to help farmers combat the economic damage to crops due to wildlife, namely deer. “More is still needed, but it has been very nice to have an administration willing to help us find ways to address wildlife damage,” said Billy Bishoff, MDFB District 1 director.

The MDFB delegation addressed the recent avian flu concern and biosecurity restrictions on the use of chicken litter as a low-cost and readily available form of fertilizer for this growing season; the need to reinstate the meat inspection program at the Maryland Department of Agriculture; and supporting the expansion of urban agriculture.

MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation. www.mdfarmbureau.com

MEDIA CONTACT:
Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)
573.268.6853 | amber@tsncommunications.com

Maryland Farm Bureau Discusses Legislative Wins

Maryland Farm Bureau Discusses Legislative Wins
Group Was Able to Stop Bills Harmful to Agriculture

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (April 18, 2022) — Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) followed 139 bills during the 2022 General Assembly, which ended this week. Of those, MDFB supported 65 — on issues like wildlife damage to crops; supporting urban agriculture; and right-to-repair farm implements — and opposed 19. Of the 65 supported, 29 passed. Of the 19 opposed, only three passed and all three were significantly amended to either remove MDFB’s opposition or lessen the impact to farmers. 

“The 2022 legislative session has been interesting, to say the least,” said Colby Ferguson, MDFB director of government and public relations. “It all started with a December special session to review and vote on a new congressional district map — which caused some changes this year to the process of setting policy — and ended with many wins for Maryland farmers.”

During the session, MDFB held a virtual Day in Annapolis where Farm Bureau members discussed priority bills with legislators and met with Governor Larry Hogan. Here are the results of those bills: 

Bills supported by MDFB:

  • HB558/SB296: Adding “farm camping” to the agritourism state definition. Both bills passed and await the Governor’s signature.
  • HB855/SB942: Urban Agriculture Water and Power Infrastructure Program. Both bills passed and await the Governor’s signature.
  • HB562: Right-to-Repair – Farm Equipment. Bill died in committee.
  • HB1216: Urban Agriculture Grant Program. Bill died on the Senate floor on Sin E Die.
  • HB1002/SB800: Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Farm Electricity. Both bills died in the House committee.
  • HB592/SB497: Deer management permits on state-owned land statewide. House bill passed and awaits the Governor’s signature.
  • HB682/SB427: Baltimore County groundhog hunting permit exemption. Both bills passed and await the Governor’s signature.
  • HB956/SB582: Landowner liability exemption for allowing hunting. Both bills passed and await the Governor’s signature.

Bills opposed by MDFB:

  • HB11:  RPS Tier 1 renewables – removal of biomass energy. Bill died in committee.
  • HB387/SB268: Transfer of the regulation of pesticides from MDA to MDE. Both bills died in committee.
  • HB596/SB783: Environmental rights – Constitutional Amendment. Both bills died in committee.
  • HB798: Community Healthy Air Act. Bill died in committee.
  • HB496/SB275: Family Medical Leave Insurance Program. Both bills passed but were amended to exempt employers of less than 15 employees and employees that work less than 680 hours annually.

“During the 2022 legislative session, Maryland Farm Bureau worked diligently to ensure the voice of our members was heard as we worked to protect and grow Maryland agriculture and preserve rural life,” said Ferguson. 

The total number of bills introduced this session in Maryland was 1,487 House bills and 1,011 Senate bills.

MDFB members are invited to its annual Day in Annapolis and given weekly legislative updates or calls-to-action during session. Visit members.mdfarmbureau.com for membership information.

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MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation. www.mdfarmbureau.com

MEDIA CONTACT:

Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)

573.268.6853 | amber@tsncommunications.com

Maryland Farm Bureau Hosts Legislative Day

maryland farm bureau hosts legislative day
Annual Day in Annapolis Brings Farmers, Legislators Together

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (February 10, 2022) — Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) hosted its annual Day in Annapolis yesterday to give its members the opportunity to stay up-to-date on legislation affecting farming and rural communities and to visit with their legislators. The format, virtual due to the Maryland Capitol’s pandemic closure, allowed for nearly 50 legislators and 120 farmers to interact, with an issues briefing, questions, and break-out sessions.

“We know how important these bills are — especially their implications for Maryland’s farming community. Thank you to all of the legislators and staff for taking the time to learn how these issues affect our ability to grow and raise food, fiber, and renewable fuel, as well,” said Wayne Stafford, MDFB president.

Proposed legislation that MDFB is currently following are bills moving pesticide regulation from Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE); deer and wildlife damage to crops and privately owned farmland; permitting and air quality regulations; and the right to repair farm equipment.

“The right-to-repair bill helps to ensure that all sizes of farms can continue to operate to meet time-sensitive needs of crops, and aren’t dependent on huge companies,” said Delegate Lorig Charkoudian. “I know large equipment companies are fighting this, so we should look out for the small family farmer. I’m 100% with Maryland Farm Bureau on this and happy to continue to move that forward.”

MDFB’s list of priority bills include the following, which it supports:

  • SB 296/HB 558: Establishes a definition for “agritourism” with regards to land use. It adds camping and incidental outdoor stays to the state’s definition of agritourism.
  • HB 562: Requires farm equipment manufacturers to provide farmers the capability and tools needed to repair their own modern farm equipment, so that they are not dependent on over-committed technical service providers during the busiest times of the year for farming.
  • Various bills establishing funds to help urban agriculture, such as HB 855 with water and power infrastructure.
  • SB 800: Sales and use tax exemption for agricultural electricity.
  • Various bills allowing the management of deer/wildlife on private and state-owned property to reduce widespread destruction of crops, such as SB 497/HB 592, and in Baltimore County SB 427/HB 682.
  • SB 582: Provides that if a landowner directly invites or permits an individual to use their property for hunting, the invited individual assumes all responsibility and liability for their own safety.

 

A number of bills introduced during this session would make farming more difficult in Maryland.

“Several of these bills would cause undue burden and hardship on Maryland farmers while costs related to operating a farm today continue to rise,” said Colby Ferguson, MDFB director of government and public relations. “Some of these bills ignore decades of conservation management efforts and best management practices farmers have put in place to protect air and water quality and soil health. Farmers build a livelihood for themselves and their families right next to or on the same land in which they grow crops and raise livestock; being good stewards of the environment is always in their best interest.”

Maryland Farm Bureau opposes the following bills:

  • HB 11: Excludes many energy sources derived from agricultural production from the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
  • SB 268/HB 387: Would move pesticide regulation from MDA to MDE.
  • HB 596: Grants Marylanders standing to intervene on any state application process if they believe another’s action or permit interferes with any of their rights to a clean environment.
  • HB 798: Would create a new government bureaucracy to enact costly air quality requirements for farms above and beyond existing environmental quality standards.
  • HB 496: Establishes the requirement of all employers of all sizes (including self-employed) to pay into a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.

“If we don’t use ag sources such as biomass and thermal energy as renewable energy sources, then all of that waste has to go somewhere not beneficial and is a nuisance,” said Senator Stephen Hershey, on HB 11. “It’s important to continue educating all of our colleagues on how various renewable energy is actually produced and utilized as opposed to negative assumptions based on not understanding.”

Bob Cissel, a Montgomery County farmer, addressed the deer damage and wildlife management bills. “Our deer damage problems in Maryland are like if you had a store and in the mornings you woke up and 9% of your inventory was gone,” he said.

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MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that services as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau® is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Learn more at MDFarmBureau.com.  

Media Contact:
Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)
573.268.6853 | amber@tsncommunications.com

Farmers Represent Maryland at American Farm Bureau Convention

Farmers Represent Maryland at American Farm Bureau Convention

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (January 20, 2022) — Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 103rd Convention last week adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2022. Key topics ranged from milk pricing and beef market transparency to urban agriculture. Meanwhile Maryland Young Farmer contestants, one county, and a re-elected officer took home their respective honors.

“Delegates from all 50 state Farm Bureaus and Puerto Rico came together to demonstrate the power of grassroots leadership,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The policies set forth will guide Farm Bureau in its mission to advocate for farmers and ranchers and build a sustainable future of safe and abundant food, fiber and renewable fuel for our entire nation and world.”

Delegates also re-elected AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal for their fourth terms.

“Not only are we proud of the presence Maryland had at the AFBF convention, and our state’s contestants being among the best of all 50 states and Puerto Rico, we hope we have contributed to addressing a growing national problem in agriculture,” said Maryland Farm Bureau President Wayne Stafford. “The AFBF delegation voted Maryland’s wildlife on federal lands management resolution into national policy – a problem worth at least millions of dollars. Besides this convention’s accomplishments, it was just great to be together in person, and see that Farm Bureau is going strong.”

Maryland’s resolution requires the federal government to manage wildlife populations on federal land in a way that minimizes damage to crops and livestock on nearby private farmland.

Long-standing frustration over imbalances in the meat industry led to calls for greater transparency in livestock markets.

As farmers’ labor struggles continue, delegates approved additional policies that build on existing AFBF policies regarding the need for employee stabilization and reforms to the guestworker program.

Delegates voted to bring more transparency to the federal milk pricing system. Several changes to policy include support for a more consistent format for milk checks and a review and audit of the producer price differential on milk. Delegates also called for USDA to publish resources that show how each Federal Milk Marketing Order operates and differs by region.

Delegates updated policy on biofuels to include renewable diesel. The addition recognizes the innovation and potential that sustainable biofuels play in providing environmental benefits while creating opportunities for America’s farmers.

As farmers and ranchers continue to increase their reliance on digital technologies, delegates voted to support raising the standard for federal broadband projects to be at least 100 Mbps for both uploads and downloads.

Recognizing the growth of urban agriculture and importance of ensuring the success of all forms of agriculture, delegates voted to create new policy to support its continuation and acknowledge its economic contributions.

Beyond policy changes, delegates also elected members to serve on the AFBF board of directors and national program committees.

Jennifer Cross of Maryland (Northeast Region) was re-elected to a two-year term on the Women’s Leadership Committee, a National Program Committee.

Marylanders received the following competitive awards:

  • Kayla Griffith, Lothian, won third place in Excellence in Agriculture, receiving a $2,500 cash prize from American Ag, numerous Case IH gifts, and $1,850 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise.
  • Katie Stevens, Frederick, advanced to the semi-finals round of the Discussion Meet. To advance to the “Sweet 16,” Katie first had to compete in two opening rounds where she discussed how Farm Bureau can help farmers advance green energy and solve some of the supply chain issues that the COVID-19 pandemic caused in meat processing.
  • Garrett County Farm Bureau won a County Award of Excellence for its work in hosting a livestock expo for which area youth had been preparing. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the original hosts’ ability to hold one for the 2019-2020 season.

Twelve other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to two-year terms to represent their regions on the board. Maryland is in the Northeast Region, which will be represented by Rick Ebert, Pennsylvania, and Ryck Suydam, New Jersey.

The 2023 convention will be January 6-11 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic. 

MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that services as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau® is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Learn more at MDFarmBureau.com.  

Media Contact:
Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)
573.268.6853 | amber@tsncommunications.com

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