Governor O’Malley, Lt. Governor Brown Announce Record Cover Crop Enrollment, Highlight Agriculture, Volunteerism at 133rd Maryland State Fair, Laud Farmers’ Environmental Stewardship Efforts
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, during the Governor’s Agriculture and Volunteer Day lunch at the 133rd Maryland State Fair, Governor Martin O’Malley, joined by Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, agricultural and volunteerism leaders, announced record cover crop program enrollment by Maryland farmers, as they applauded the agriculture community for their extraordinary efforts.
For the 2014/2015 Cover Crop Program, 1,849 Maryland farmers requested funding to plant a record 641,400 acres of winter grains. Maryland farmers exceeded the Phase I and II Watershed Implementation Plan milestone for cover crops in 2011 and 2013 and are on track to exceed it again next year with this new record enrollment acreage. Cover crops are one of the most cost-effective means of helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
“The future of agriculture and our environment is bright. Today’s record cover crop announcement is great news for our farmers who continue to voluntarily take strong conservation actions on their farms, diversify their operations and use new technologies as they become available,” said Governor O’Malley. “Their dedication, along with the commitment of thousands of volunteers around our State, will not only to help us meet our goals to move our State forward; it will help more Maryland farmers sustain their family businesses.”
Farmers plant cover crops in the fall, following the harvest of summer crops such as corn, soybeans and vegetables. Rye, wheat, barley and certain other crops are planted as cover crops because they recycle unused plant nutrients remaining in the soil from the previous summer crop, protect fields against wind and water erosion, and help improve the soil for the next year’s crop. Maryland’s Cover Crop Program provides farmers with grants to plant cover crops on their fields immediately following the summer crop harvest.
“With an $8.25 billion annual impact on our state, our agricultural community is a critical part of our effort to grow our economy, create jobs, and build a brighter future for the next generation of Marylanders,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “We remain committed to working in partnership with both our farmers and our volunteers to build strong, sustainable communities throughout our state.”
Top counties ranked by most cover crop acres enrolled:
- Queen Anne’s – 65,716
- Kent – 64,851
- Talbot – 60,150
- Caroline – 55,094
- Dorchester – 49,149
“Not only is Maryland’s cover crop program a very attractive and flexible program, it has the potential to do more for the Bay than ever before,” said Agriculture Secretary Hance. “We commend and thank all farmers who, together, have applied to plant more than half a million acres of small grain crops that protect our soil and water by taking up any remaining nutrients and preventing soil erosion over the winter.”
Agriculture Day, which highlights the state’s strong agricultural traditions, is traditionally held on the Thursday in the middle of the 11-day run of the State Fair while the Governor’s Volunteer Appreciation Day is held on the first Sunday of the Fair and recognizes those who contribute to their communities. The combined Governor’s Agriculture and Volunteer Day luncheon with about 200 attendees celebrates farming and volunteerism as the foundations of our state and the keys to a sustainable and civil future for all Marylanders.
“The State Fair is a chance to remind ourselves of our roots and to see the work that Maryland farmers are doing to create jobs, strengthen our economy, and feed our families,” said Governor O’Malley. “Our goals for a strong and sustainable future will only be realized if these two sectors – agriculture and volunteerism – continue to thrive and grow. I am pleased to be here today to recognize the valuable contributions of both.”
In his remarks, Secretary Hance announced that season two of the hit 13-part series Maryland Farm and Harvest co-produced by Maryland Public Television and MDA will premier on November 11. The series, funded by a variety of agricultural commodity and trade organizations, highlights the diversity of Maryland farms and farmers and help increase the public’s understanding of farmers and farm life, as well as agriculture’s contributions to the state and national economy. New episodes will air Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. and episodes will repeat Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Sundays at 6:00 a.m., and Fridays at 6:00 p.m. For more information and to watch episodes from season one, visit www.mpt.org/farm.
During today’s luncheon, Governor O’Malley and Secretary Hance also welcomed 16-year-old Michele Mister of Huntingtown (Calvert County) who was named Miss Maryland Agriculture 2014 during opening-night festivities at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium. Miss Mister lives on her family farm where she actively helps to raise livestock and grow crops. A rising junior at Huntingtown High School, Miss Mister is a well-rounded athlete, volunteer, 4-H member and honors scholar focusing on biomedical studies and sciences. She is the daughter of Mark and Dawn Mister.
Following the luncheon, Secretary Hance, State Fair leadership and other dignitaries toured the fairgrounds.
For a chart showing cover crop acres and applications, 2007 to 2014: www.mda.maryland.gov/documents/ccposter.pdf
For enrollment statistics by county, visit:
Learn more at Baystat.Maryland.Gov.
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