Maryland Celebrates National Agriculture Week; Seven Ways You Can Get Involved With Maryland Agriculture
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Did you know that most of life’s necessities – food, fiber, clothing and shelter – start with agriculture? National Agriculture Week (March 23-29) recognizes and celebrates the contributions of agriculture to American society. In Maryland, agriculture is one of the state’s most important industries. From the mountains of Western Maryland with its dairy farms and hay to Central Maryland with its greenhouse and livestock industries to the Eastern Shore’s acres of corn and poultry – Maryland truly grows something for everyone.
“Maryland’s agriculture industry is vital to the long-term health of the state’s economy, environment and quality of life,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Agriculture Week is a great time to recognize the hard work of our farm families and the important role they play in providing a safe and abundant food supply and protecting the environment”
There are 2.1 million farms in the United States, a country with 317 million people. Agriculture products remain the nations’ top export. Each American farmer today feeds more than 155 people – a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.
In Maryland, one-third of the land mass – over 2 million acres – is farmland. In 2012, the top commodity sectors were poultry (broilers), greenhouse and nursery, corn, and dairy. In addition, Maryland farmers produced 35 million pounds of apples, 647 million eggs, 4.3 million tons of peaches, and 68.3 million pounds of watermelons just to name a few of the many products that are grown here. For more interesting facts about Maryland agriculture, see the AgBrief.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture shares several suggestions to help citizens recognize National Agriculture Week:
1. Serve a meal with local products or pack a local lunch for your children. Ask your grocer for local products or visit www.MarylandsBest.net to find out where you can buy local products near you. Maryland farmers grow and produce a wide variety of food including fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses and meats for lunches and snacks that are available from farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and community supported agriculture farms (CSAs).
2. “Take It from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay” is an education campaign that provides homeowners with information and tips from farmers that they can use to do their part to help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The initiative offers a series of fact sheets that can be helpful. Some to consider are:
- Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay
- Fact Sheet 1: Try Pesticide Alternatives
- Fact Sheet 2: Use Fertilizers Wisely
- Fact Sheet 3: Control Soil Erosion
- Fact Sheet 4: Try Composting
- Fact Sheet 5: Conserve Water
3. Plan your garden and repair lawns with certified seeds. Spring is almost here and now is the time to plan for your gardens and lawns. Be sure to get a soil test before fertilizing and check out the University of Maryland Extension’s Grow it Eat it website.
4. Visit a winery. Touring a winery or a vineyard in the countryside, tasting some of Maryland’s fine wines, and enjoying the company of friends are wonderful ways to spend a springtime day. Maryland has six wine trails and 56 wineries that offer more than 400 different wines. See: www.marylandwine.com/wine-trails
5. Ride a horse. Sixty percent of the horses in Maryland are used for recreational purposes while 40 percent are for racing. Find a place to ride near you in MDA’s guide to licensed horse stables. If you’d rather watch an equine, rather than ride one, take in one of the 50 events held in Maryland each year.
6. Visit a creamery. Maryland has eight dairy farms that offer fresh, delicious on-farm ice cream. Together, they make up the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail.
7. Meet a Maryland Farmer. If you can’t get to a real farm, you can visit many farms online by viewing the Maryland’s Best YouTube channel. Take a tour without leaving your living room.
For more in depth information about Maryland agriculture see the 2012 Maryland Statistical Bulletin, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Find more information about National Ag Day.