By Valerie Connelly, Executive Director
As my days at Maryland Farm Bureau wind down, I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the Farm Bureau members and staff – a family really – that I have worked with over the last 24 years. Your strength and perseverance both in your farm businesses and in your service to the community are unmatched.
The Farm Bureau mission to serve the farm and rural community is as important today as it was when the organization was formed. Your grassroots efforts have allowed us to accomplish a great deal over the last two decades – from staving off harmful bills in the General Assembly to moving our headquarters to our new space in Davidsonville. We worked together to defend farm families like the Hudson’s from misinformed activists. We protected the right to use water and purchase inputs for the farm without onerous sales taxes. We continually wrestled with nutrient management regulations to protect the business of farming. We crafted work-arounds to allow watermelon growers to transport products to the sorting sheds and dairy farmers to ship milk to processors using safe and affordable equipment. And, we formed a Political Action Committee (PAC) and trained candidates to elect the right people to office.
The legislative and regulatory work we performed together was important. But the best part of the job has been attending county meetings, dinners and picnics and really getting to know the men and women who are Farm Bureau. Hosting tours for legislators or visitors from out-of-state and seeing the pride you have for the work you do on the farm has been heartwarming. I will treasure these experiences.
In the next phase of my career, I will serve as Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Relations for Choptank Electric Cooperative. This transition is made easier knowing that many Choptank shareholders are the same Farm Bureau members I have worked with over the years. I look forward to working with the Choptank Board and staff to bring new services and economic opportunity to the rural community on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Farm Bureau is in great hands with a dedicated Board of Directors, active volunteer committees, and a top-notch staff. I have known John Torres, our incoming executive director, for many years. He brings a wealth of experience and energy from his work with Ohio Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau, and Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers. I know he will serve you well.
While I will be leaving my employment with Farm Bureau, I will continue to be a member and a volunteer. I hope to visit with many of you as my duties at Choptank bring me into your neck of the woods. Please stay in touch and continue to share your wisdom. It has truly been an honor to work with all of you.