Agriculture is vital to Maryland’s quality of life and to its social, economic and environmental well-being. Agriculture and rural, resource-based businesses strengthen local and rural economies and provide jobs. Permanently preserved agricultural land is an important part of Maryland’s GreenPrint, and helps direct development into areas with existing built infrastructure. For citizens, agriculture provides a traceable and healthy supply of local foods. Agriculture provides energy diversity and supports and promotes the development and use of biofuels.
Land: Preserving our resource lands, working lands, and cultural resources.
Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation
Permanently preserved agricultural land is an important part of Maryland’s GreenPrint, and helps direct development into areas with existing built infrastructure. Agriculture preserves beautiful, productive open space. Well-managed farms are a better environmental use of land than development as agriculture protects natural resources. Preserving agricultural land stabilizes the agricultural land base while preserving equity for farmers in land use policies. The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1977 and is part of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The Foundation purchases agricultural preservation easements that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland.
Economy: Expanding economic opportunity.
Agriculture and rural, resource-based businesses strengthen local and rural economies and provides jobs.
The primary mission of MARBIDCO is to assist Maryland’s farm, forestry, seafood and recreation-based businesses to achieve profitability and sustainability by providing targeted services that help retain existing production and commerce, promote rural entrepreneurship, and nurture emerging industries. MARBIDCO is trying to develop the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program to allow more young farmers to acquire more land.
Bay: A restored and healthy Chesapeake Bay.
Cover Crop Program
MDA strives to ensure the maximum use of conservation practices including cover crops and other on-farm best management practices (BMPs) on farms to prevent soil erosion, manage nutrients and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. During the current program (’08-’09), MDA approved a record number of acres to be enrolled in the cover crop program and offered record per acre incentives for participants. Sustaining well-managed agricultural land is critical to the long-term health of the region’s water resources and one of the region’s most valuable natural resources, the Chesapeake Bay.
Health: Healthier Communities, Healthy lifestyles.
In the past two years the growth of the public’s interest in the source of their food coupled with Maryland Department of Agriculture programs has sparked unprecedented consumer preference for locally-grown and -made agricultural products. Agriculture provides a traceable and healthy supply of local foods. Buying locally-grown products strengthens local economies and the health of our environment and our families, keeps land open and productive and improves quality of life. Farmers’ markets provide an important source of income for farmers as more and more consumers seek the freshness, quality, and wide selection of locally-grown produce. By talking one-on-one with farmers, consumers develop a bond of trust in the integrity and accountability of our growers.
Farm to School
The Farm to School program was developed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland State Board of Education to bring more Maryland-grown products to school lunches and help educate students about where their food comes, how it is produced, and the benefits of a healthy diet. Jane Lawton Farm to School Program (SB 158) was created during the 2008 legislative session. In addition to facilitating the procurement of local Maryland produce for school menus, the bill also creates a Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week to promote Maryland agriculture through school meals, classroom programs and interaction between students and local farmers.
Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices (Food Quality Assurance)
High profile food-borne illness outbreaks related to fresh produce have disrupted markets for the implicated commodities in addition to the public health impact. USDA has developed a voluntary audit-based program to evaluate producer/handler compliance with FDA guidance for the production and handling of produce to minimize bacterial contamination. In Maryland, there are currently five USDA GAP compliant producers. MDA is working to increase the number of producers participating in Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices programs. This adds value to farmers because of focus on buying local and marketing to local school systems or marketing to volume buyers.
Energy: Using less energy, using more renewable sources.
Agriculture provides energy diversity and Maryland supports and promotes the development and use of biofuels. The expansion of biofuels can become a new market for agricultural and resource-based products. Click here for more about biofuels in Maryland.
Review the Task Force on Renewable Fuels Final Report.
Visit Maryland's Smart, Green and Growing website, where Marylanders are coming together to restore the Chesapeake Bay, preserve our land, revitalize our communities, create green jobs, improve transit, conserve energy and address climate change.