There’s Never a Slow Day at the Maryland Department of Agriculture
By: Secretary Joe Bartenfelder
From Maryland’s 2021 Legislative Session to virtual events honoring Maryland farm families, just like on the farm, there’s never a slow day at the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA).
Following an unprecedented 2020 legislative session that ended 11 days early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly convened on January 13 with lawmakers sitting behind seven-foot-tall plexiglass barriers, wearing face masks, and waving to their colleagues from a distance.
Though this year’s 90-day session looks much different in Annapolis, one thing remains the same, our department’s commitment to tracking and providing feedback on the bills that impact Maryland agriculture, our farmers, and the constituents we serve.
While much of the focus of this year’s session will continue to be on the COVID-19 pandemic, our department has submitted two pieces of legislation designed to further our ability to promote installation of conservation practices and to better address weed management priorities.
Senate Bill 344 – Agriculture – Cost-Sharing Program – State Cost-Sharing Funds. This legislation allows MDA to provide up to 100% state funding assistance, currently limited to 87.5%, for the implementation of certain high-priority conservation practices that improve water quality and provide other environmental benefits. MDA’s ability to provide additional funding assistance will be an important incentive for farmers to install these practices, helping the state reach its Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) goals.
Senate Bill 352 – Agriculture – Multiflora Rose Management – Repeal. This legislation repeals the Maryland Multiflora Rose Management Law. The state’s agricultural industry has this plant contained and under control, therefore the law is no longer needed.
More information on these bills along with others affecting the industry can be found on MDA’s website: mda.maryland.gov.
Celebrating Maryland’s Farm Families.
Around this time each year, Maryland farm families are recognized by the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame and the Maryland Century Farm Program. In 2021, the tradition of honoring deserving Maryland farmers did not stop. Both award ceremonies, though held virtually this year, acknowledged the hard work and legacy of Maryland’s farm families.
The Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame, the state’s most prestigious agriculture award, honors farmers with high standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities. More than 50 families from around the state have been inducted into the hall of fame since its inception in 1991. In early February, the Cross Family of Prince George’s County was inducted by Governor Larry Hogan during the virtual Taste of Maryland Agriculture event hosted by the Maryland Agriculture Council. The Cross’ grow corn and soybeans in rotation with cover crops of hay and operate a farm store called R&D Cross, Inc. in Brandywine. They are leaders in their community and their family’s roots in agriculture date back to the mid-1800s.
Maryland Century Farms is a program within MDA that recognizes farms that have been owned and operated by the same family for more than 100 years. In total, 200 farms have received this designation. The following seven farm families were honored with video remarks from Governor Hogan in mid-February.
- Bish Farm, (Westminster, Carroll County), est. 1879
- East Farm, (Pocomoke City, Somerset County), est. 1916
- Hutschenreuter Family Farm, (Glen Arm, Baltimore County), est. 1919
- Margroff Farm, (Accident, Garrett County), est. 1901
- Noble Farm, (Federalsburg, Caroline County), est. 1857
- Shellcross Farm, (Centreville, Queen Anne’s County), est. 1916
- Stoney Cove Farm, (Cambridge, Dorchester County), est. 1920
The challenges of the past year have only magnified the importance of our local farmers and producers. I want to take a moment to congratulate the newest Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame inductee and the seven Century Farm inductees on their well-deserved achievements. A special thank you to each family for the decades of service they have provided to Maryland agriculture.