The Future of University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Extension Program
Over the last five months, a workgroup of leaders within Maryland Farm Bureau (MFB) drafted recommendations for the future in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) at the University of Maryland (UMD). The workgroup product was endorsed by the MFB Board of Directors in August and delivered to Dr. Craig Beyrouty, the College’s new Dean as of November 1, 2015.
Ag Law Infoline established for Farmers
The Agriculture Law Education Initiative recently launched an Infoline phone number for the agricultural community. The Infoline phone number will direct callers to legal information resources related to their agricultural operation. The Infoline, (410) 706-7377, is currently answered by staff at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
“A central goal of the initiative is to assist in the preservation of family farms. The Infoline will help link family farmers with useful resources to further this goal,” said Barbara Gontrum, associate dean at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
“This important step is a testament to our sincerity in providing resources and guidance for Maryland’s agriculture community,” said Dr. Moses Kairo, dean of the UMES School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences. “The Infoline will be another tool for the Maryland agricultural community to access legal information to guide them in managing their operations.”
Dr. Cheng-i Wei, dean and director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, notes that “the Infoline will be a valuable resource to the Maryland agricultural community. By being able to connect callers with legal information, it will help agricultural producers better understand their legal issues.”
In 2011, the Maryland General Assembly gave the University System of Maryland a new assignment: preserve Maryland’s family farms by helping their owners address the complicated legal issues associated with agricultural estates and trusts, regulatory compliance and other agricultural law issues. The Infoline will run as an initial six-month pilot to gauge its effectiveness in serving Maryland’s agriculture community. To learn more about the Agriculture Law Education Initiative, visit www.umaglaw.org.
The Agriculture Law Education Initiative is a collaboration under University of Maryland: MPowering the State. The Initiative combines the expertise and efforts of three Maryland institutions – the Francis King Carey School of Law at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), and the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES). It is committed to providing Maryland farmers with the information they need to prosper while complying with the complex network of laws and policies protecting the integrity of the state’s food system and environment.
What it means to be a Maryland Farm Bureau Member
One of the biggest advantages of having your farm represented by Maryland Farm Bureau is the representation by Maryland Farm Bureau’s Government Relations Team. Your job is to farm and produce the best product you can. You don’t have the time or the energy at the end of your long day to review the hundreds of government proposals that are pending and explain exactly how they might impact you. MFB’s Government Relations Team work tirelessly to make sure government officials at all levels understand the impact that new laws and regulations have on your farming operation. Without solid and constant representation during the Maryland Legislative Session, many bills that would negatively affect agriculture would slip by without even being noticed. Here are some examples of bills and regulations that MFB’s Government Relations Team helped either pass or defeat over the last few years:
- Won withdrawal of the Phosphorous Management Tool (PMT) regulations twice in a year, effectively delaying implementation until science catches up with regulations;
- Stopped the federal government from banning your kids from working on the farm through an effective grassroots effort to block U.S. Dept. of Labor regulations;
- Repeatedly defeated intrusive and costly fertilizer and pesticide reporting requirements;
- Passed the “Agricultural Certainty Program” to let farmers know when they have done enough for the Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort and give certified farmers 10 years of protection from new regulations.
- Stopped bans on and labeling of products with antibiotics & GMO technology.
- Passed Estate Tax Reform in Maryland after more than 10 years of persistent lobbying – raising the exemption to $5 million for ag property and lowering the tax rate to 5% for assets in excess of $5 million
In addition to representing you in Annapolis, MFB’s Government Relations Team works with American Farm Bureau Federation team to leverage your dues to represent your interests in Washington D.C. AFBF has been recognized as one of the most effective lobbying groups in D.C.
These two areas, which we hope you feel are well worth your dues, are only just a few of the benefits provided by Maryland Farm Bureau. Some other benefits are discounts on Nationwide Insurance, selected farm supplies and equipment, hotel stays, car rentals and energy purchases as well as representing your interests on many boards, commissions and committees.
In Summary, Maryland Farm Bureau works all year to promote your agenda and to help improve your bottom line. We know how hard you labor to produce the nation’s food and fiber. We thank you for that and we thank you for helping to make Farm Bureau one of the strongest grassroots organizations in the nation.