Celebrating Maryland’s Local Bounty
Published in the July 28, 2018, edition of Lancaster Farming
It’s that time of year, again—time for all Marylanders to join us in celebrating our state’s agriculture and seafood industries! Governor Larry Hogan declared July 21-29 as “Maryland Buy Local Week,” which challenges all Marylanders to include at least one local product in each of their meals throughout the week. In a couple weeks, we will be celebrating Maryland Farmers Market Week, which encourages everyone to visit one of more than 145 farmers markets across the state.
This is my fourth year as Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture, and it never ceases to amaze me how diverse our industry is here. We have beautiful orchards and dairy farms in the west, and a variety of fresh-market produce operations and poultry farms to the east. Just last week, we joined Governor Hogan for his annual Buy Local Cookout, which featured everything from blue catfish to pork belly to good old-fashioned hamburgers—all locally grown or harvested. It is a real testament to the variety of fresh, quality products grown and produced right here in Maryland.
Each year, we compile all the recipes submitted for the Governor’s cookout in our Buy Local Cookout cookbook. You can download your own copy from our website! Each recipe includes a local beer, wine, or spirit pairing recommendation from the Maryland Wineries Association, Brewers Association of Maryland, and the Maryland Distillers Guild.
In its 2012 Policy Choices Survey, the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that more than 78 percent of Marylanders said they want to buy produce grown by a Maryland farmer. The Buy Local Challenge and Farmers Market Week give them an opportunity to do just that.
Ask for Maryland-grown or harvested products whenever possible – while shopping for weekly groceries, eating at a Maryland restaurant, visiting children’s schools and cafeterias, even while visiting someone in the hospital. Ask where the local products are and if there aren’t any, ask them to stock some.
And don’t forget, there are nine dairy farms on Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail. Enjoying a nice scoop of farm fresh ice cream counts as buying local as well!
The Buy Local Challenge was created by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission and has since become a statewide program. The Buy Local Challenge Week is always the last full week of July. Take the Buy Local Pledge here: http://buylocalchallenge.com.
Federal Disaster Designation
As most of you are aware, we had a very wet start to our growing season—and we are in the middle of another very wet weather pattern right now. I am happy to announce that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has granted Governor Hogan’s request for federal relief, and has provided a disaster designation to farmers in four main counties (Dorchester, Frederick, Somerset, Wicomico) and contiguous counties—which includes an additional seven counties in Maryland (Caroline, Carroll, Howard, Montgomery, Talbot, Washington, Worcester), two in Pennsylvania (Adams, Franklin), two in Virginia (Accomack, Loudon), and one in Delaware (Sussex).
Farmers who have experienced crop losses are able to apply for emergency loans from USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses, security available, and repayment ability.
I encourage any farmer affected by recent extreme weather to contact their crop insurance agents and USDA FSA as soon as possible.