Author: Jeb Burchick

Maryland Loses Over 12,000 Acres of Farmland in Census of Agriculture

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Census of Agriculture, released yesterday, shows Maryland following the alarming nationwide trend of lost acres of farmland. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported that from 2017 to 2022, Maryland lost over 12,000 acres of farmland. On a positive note, Maryland gained 121 farms during the same timeframe, a testament to the strength of small and first generation farms in Maryland.

“The 2022 Census of Agriculture shows that our organization’s mission to strengthen and grow Maryland agriculture is needed now more than ever,” said Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) President Jamie Raley. “We will continue our steadfast advocacy of Maryland farmers to ensure agriculture remains viable in our state.”

Key takeaways from 2017 to 2022 in Maryland’s Census of Agriculture include:

  • A net gain of 121 farms
  • A loss of 12,086 acres of farmland
  • A gain of 19,207 acres of soybeans
  • A loss of 17,409 acres of corn
  • A loss of 141 broiler chicken farms
  • A gain of 504 acres of orchards

In Maryland, MDFB has been sounding the alarm on disadvantageous policies that contribute to the loss of farmland. This includes solar siting on class 1 and 2 agricultural soils and excessive taxation on agricultural products and property. Our nearly 10,000 grassroots members recently identified right-to-farm, agricultural education, and wildlife management as their biggest issues of concern.

Across the United States, the census reported 141,733 fewer farms and a loss of more than 20 million acres of farmland from just five years earlier. 

“The latest census numbers put in black and white the warnings our members have been expressing for years,” said American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall. “Increased regulations, rising supply costs, lack of available labor and weather disasters have all squeezed farmers to the point that many of them find it impossible to remain economically sustainable.

The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years, providing a comprehensive count of American farms generating over $1,000 a year. MDFB actively encourages its members to participate in the census to ensure accurate agricultural statistics that better inform decision-making. Additional information on the census can be found on the NASS website.

Maryland Farmers Meet Their Elected Officials at Annual Day in Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — Yesterday, nearly 100 Maryland farmers attended Maryland Farm Bureau’s (MDFB) Day in Annapolis to discuss policy with their elected officials. Members also heard from Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks and held a robust discussion on MDFB’s position on priority bills in Annapolis.

Maryland farmers joined by Delegates Regina Boyce, Jay Jacobs, Wayne Hartman, and Kym Taylor

This annual event provides MDFB members the opportunity to stay current on legislation affecting farming and rural communities as well as to meet with their elected officials. Over 30 Maryland legislators attended this popular event to learn more from their local farming community.

“Our government works best when elected officials can meet with their constituents directly,” said Tyler Hough, MDFB’s Director of Government Relations. “We greatly appreciate the legislators who took the time to discuss Maryland agriculture’s most pressing issues.”

MDFB’s list of priority bills include the following, which it supports:

  • SB290: Alters Certified Local Farm and Fish Program deadlines for efficiency
  • SB0196: Shifts small pond plan reviews to Soil Conservation Districts
  • HB0113 (SB0042): Mandates helmets for minors in public land equestrian activities
  • SB0056 (HB0163): Establishes On-Farm Organic Diversion & Compost Grant Program
  • HB0447 (SB0440): Increases income tax credit for venison donation to $75.
  • SB0367 (HB0481): Authorizes and protects antlerless deer hunting programs.
  • SB0278 (HB0234): Updates agriculture fees, penalties, and regulations. (Supported with amendments)
  • SB0178 (HB0022): Requires State Highway Administration’s pollinator plan. (Supported with amendments)

In addition, MDFB opposes the following bills that would make farming more difficult in Maryland:

  • SB0193 (HB0357): Banning caged egg farm operations, mandating a costly conversion 
  • HB0109 (SB0281): Restricts submerged aquatic vegetation management on aquaculture leases
  • SB0235 (HB0057): Includes veterinarians in drug monitoring program, risking rural vet practices.
  • HB0150: Imposes recurring fees on certain vehicles, negatively impacting farmers.
  • HB0245: MDE bill to raise fees on various permits, setting concerning precedent.

Earlier this year, MDFB members testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee on the State of Maryland Agriculture, as well as testifying in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in opposition to SB0193, the cage-free egg mandate. In late December, MDFB’s Board of Directors held a positive meeting with Governor Wes Moore on legislative priorities before the start of the 2024 session.

As bills continue to be introduced and heard in the legislature, MDFB will monitor relevant legislation for its impact on Maryland agriculture. The complete bill briefing can be found on our website. Additional photos from the event can be found on Flickr.


Maryland Farm Bureau Announces $10,000 in Scholarships for 2024-2025 Academic Year

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. – Maryland Farm Bureau is delighted to announce the availability of five $2,000 scholarships for the upcoming academic year 2024-2025. These scholarships aim to support the educational pursuits of our dedicated young members committed to making a difference in agricultural related disciplines.

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must be current high school seniors with plans to embark on their college journey in Fall 2024 or already be enrolled as full-time students at any accredited community college or four-year institution. Additionally, applicants or their parents/guardians must be members of the Maryland Farm Bureau.

The breakdown of the scholarships is as follows:

  • Three scholarships will be awarded to students pursuing academic degrees in food, agriculture, and/or natural resources disciplines.
  • Two scholarships will be awarded to students pursuing degrees in other academic disciplines or who are pursuing minors in food, agriculture, and/or natural resources disciplines.

Applicants are urged to submit their scholarship applications by March 22nd, 2024, at 5:00 pm Eastern Time. A confirmation email will be sent upon receipt of the application. The selection committee reserves the right to conduct interviews if deemed necessary for the final selection.

Scholarships will be presented to the selected applicants in conjunction with high school graduation programs or before the commencement of the fall semester. Family members of the Maryland Farm Bureau Board of Directors or staff are ineligible to participate in the scholarship program.

For more information and to access the application, please visit our website.

Maryland Farm Bureau Testifies on the State of Agriculture in Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, MD. – Today, the Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) testified on the state of agriculture in front of the House of Delegates Environment and Transportation CommitteeGreg Dell, a grain farmer from Carroll County and MDFB’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Chair, testified on MDFB’s behalf on the most pressing issues facing Maryland agriculture.

Greg Dell Testifying at House of Delegates Environment & Transportation Committee

“In an industry where margins are tight, it’s helpful to have the assistance of our elected officials’ to advance farmer-friendly policies,” said Greg Dell. “We look forward to working with our legislators to ensure a brighter future for Maryland agriculture in 2024.”

Topics of discussion included the issue of solar siting on agricultural land, including MDFB’s opposition to placing solar panels on finite class 1 and 2 agricultural soils, and the importance of accurate assessments on agricultural products and buildings. Dell also discussed the growth of urban agriculture in Maryland and advocated for its expansion. MDFB plans to remain intimately involved in these discussions as legislation gets introduced in the General Assembly.

Other agricultural stakeholders that testified in front of the committee included Mary Lou Brown of the Delmarva Chicken AssociationKurt Fuchs of Horizon Farm CreditJennie Schmidt of the Maryland Grain Producers Association, and John Swaine of Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts. The committee was chaired by Delegate Marc Korman and included Delegate Regina Boyce, the vice-chair of the committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Natural Resources, Agriculture & Open Space.

Delegates Regina Boyce and Marc Korman

“It is an exciting time,” said Delegate Regina Boyce. “Although there are some challenges, we’re looking forward to working with everyone to stabilize and grow agriculture in Maryland.”

In December, MDFB’s Board of Directors met with Governor Wes Moore to discuss similar issues. Maryland Farm Bureau remains steadfast in advocating for our state’s agricultural industry, and we plan on keeping in regular communication with our elected officials to deliver wins for Maryland farmers. Additional photos from today can be found on our Flickr.


Maryland Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors meets with Governor Wes Moore

ANNAPOLIS, MD. – Yesterday afternoon, the Board of Directors of the Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) convened at the Maryland State House for a productive meeting with Governor Wes Moore. Accompanied by Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks, the discussions centered around key agricultural policy matters and potential legislation that could impact the farming industry.

Governor Moore and Secretary Atticks accompanied by Maryland Farm Bureau members and staff

Notable topics included the issue of solar siting on agricultural land, strategies to combat food insecurity, the expansion of urban agriculture, the ongoing success of tire recycling programs, and the importance of accurate assessments on agricultural products. These issues will be followed thoroughly by MDFB as we prepare for Maryland’s Legislative Session next year.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore taking the time to meet with Maryland farmers to discuss some of the important issues facing our industry,” said MDFB President Jamie Raley. “By maintaining an open line of communication with our elected officials, we are confident that Maryland Farm Bureau can continue to strengthen and grow agriculture in our state.”

Governor Moore speaks with Maryland Farm Bureau members

Earlier this month, Governor Wes Moore provided a video message to MDFB members at our annual convention. Maryland Farm Bureau remains steadfast in advocating for our state’s agricultural industry, and we extend our thanks to the Governor for granting us a seat at the table. Additional photos from the meeting can be found on MDFB’s Flickr.

Maryland Farm Bureau Convenes 108th Annual Convention; Elects New President

CAMBRIDGE, MD. – The Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) convened in Cambridge, Maryland, for their 108th Annual Convention and Meeting of Delegates, during which new organizational leadership was elected. James (Jamie) Raley of St. Mary’s County was elected to a two-year term as President. Raley owns his family farm in Avenue, where they produce grain, hay, and cattle. Previously, Raley had a long career in law enforcement, serving 21 years as a member of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office. Raley begins his tenure as President after serving as 1st Vice President of the organization and as the former President of St. Mary’s County Farm Bureau.

Newly Elected Maryland Farm Bureau Leaders (L to R): 1st Vice President Jonathan Quinn, President Jamie Raley, and 2nd Vice President Jo-Ann Chason

“I am honored to have the support and confidence of Maryland farmers in my role as President of the Maryland Farm Bureau,” said President Raley. “Working in tandem with our grassroots members, I am confident that we can achieve victories on behalf of our state’s vibrant and diverse agricultural industry.”

Joining Raley in leadership roles are Jonathan Quinn of Kent County as 1st Vice President and Jo-Ann Chason of Baltimore County as 2nd Vice President, both serving one-year terms. The election of these officers took place with the participation of delegates from Maryland’s 23 county farm bureaus, along with representatives from MDFB’s partner organizations.

Bill Edwards of Dorchester County Receives the Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau Award from former MDFB President Wayne Stafford

In addition to the elections, the convention recognized several MDFB members for their outstanding contributions to Maryland agriculture. Bill Edwards from Dorchester County received the Distinguished Service to the Farm Bureau Award, Sandy Cross from Prince George’s County was named the 2023 Agri-Woman of the Year, and the Burrier Family Farm in Frederick County was honored with the Sand County Foundation Leopold Conservation Award.

Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture Kevin Atticks Addresses MDFB’s Convention

Earlier in the convention, members had the opportunity to hear updates from key figures in Maryland agriculture. Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), Kevin Atticks, provided insights into MDA’s accomplishments over the past year, while the University of Maryland’s Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Craig Beyrouty, addressed the attendees on the college’s recent undertakings. Members also debated several topics, including agricultural education, solar siting, and wildlife management in relation to MDFB’s upcoming 2024 Policy Book.

As the 108th MDFB Annual Convention concludes, the newly elected leadership and honored members stand poised to contribute to the continued success and growth of Maryland’s agricultural community. The commitment and dedication exhibited at this convention reaffirm the strength and resilience of the Maryland Farm Bureau, as well as agriculture in Maryland.


Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Down Slightly from Record High in 2022

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. – As inflation continues to impact the pocketbooks of many Maryland families, this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be a bit more budget-friendly compared to the previous year. According to a survey conducted by Farm Bureau, the average cost of the traditional holiday feast for 10 people is $61.17, translating to less than $6.20 per person.

This marks a 4.5% decrease from last year’s record-high average of $64.05. However, it’s important to note that the cost of a Thanksgiving meal is still 25% higher than it was in 2019, underscoring the enduring influence of elevated supply costs and inflation on food prices since before the onset of the pandemic.

Regrettably, Maryland finds itself situated in the region of the United States with the highest average cost for the classic Thanksgiving meal. Comparatively, the Midwest boasts the most affordable average at $58.66, followed by the South at $59.10, and the West at $63.89. The Northeast, encompassing Maryland, tops the list as the most expensive with an average cost of $64.38.

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – helped bring down the overall cost of dinner. The average price for a 16-pound turkey is $27.35. That is $1.71 per pound, down 5.6% from last year.

“Our hardworking Maryland farmers work day in and day out to produce many of our favorite Thanksgiving foods, even in spite of high inflation prices and fuel costs,” says Wayne Stafford, President of Maryland Farm Bureau. “We continue to encourage Marylanders to support our state’s thriving agricultural industry throughout the holiday season.”

Maryland takes pride in being home to a robust agricultural sector, which is the state’s largest commercial industry. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that Maryland hosts over 220 turkey farms producing more than 50,000 turkeys annually. Additionally, nearly 30,000 acres of vegetables are harvested for sale each year in the state.

The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.
More information, insights, and data from the survey can be found on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s website.


MDFB Applauds New USDA Rule on Expanded Transparency in the Poultry Industry

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. – Late last week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act to increase transparency for contract livestock growers. This encouraging development is geared to empower contract broiler growers by fostering a clearer comprehension of the terms of their agreements with major processing companies.

In August of last year, the Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) submitted comments to the USDA in light of the proposed rule on revising the list of disclosures and information that live poultry dealers must furnish to poultry farmers upon making agreements.

“As we previously emphasized to the USDA, this new rule will help our Maryland broiler growers make the right decisions for their farm’s resources,” said Wayne Stafford, President of MDFB. “We greatly appreciate the USDA’s efforts to increase transparency for the farmers of Maryland’s robust poultry industry.”

MDFB supports transparency rules so that broiler growers are better able to make informed decisions when contracting with integrators. Specifically, the new rule will accomplish Farm Bureau’s objectives of increasing transparency for contract broiler growers:

  • Growers will know the minimum number of flocks they can expect annually along with the density of those flocks. This will allow them to better estimate expected revenue and budget for expenses. 
  • Growers will be better able to choose an integrator because they will have information about financial stability such as summaries of litigation against integrators and integrator bankruptcy filings.
  • Unnecessary modifications to buildings will not lessen the value of facilities when growers choose to sell their poultry growing facilities.
  • Growers will have access to more information about flock age, flock health history, breed of birds and the breeder facility that provided the flock so they can better estimate the potential of flocks under their care.
  • Financial disclosures provided by integrators will include annual payments to all facilities operated, information on what growers may have to spend on facility modifications, and a summary of variable costs the integrator will collect. This information will be invaluable to informed management decisions by growers. 

Poultry production plays a vital role in the Maryland economy, marking nearly half of the market share of agricultural products in the state. Maryland also has an outsized impact on poultry production on the national level, consistently ranking in the top 10 states in America for broiler production. MDFB continues to work on behalf of our state’s poultry industry in order to keep it thriving for years to come.


10 Maryland Fire Departments Win Life-Saving Grain Rescue Tube Equipment

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD – Grain bins play a pivotal role in agriculture, offering secure storage and protection for large amounts of grain before sale or processing. However, these structures can present serious hazards – including entrapment, suffocation, and even death.

Thanks to the nominations of local Marylanders, 10 Maryland Fire Departments have won grain bin rescue equipment through Nationwide’s Grain Bin Safety advocacy campaign. In addition, 2 Maryland Fire Departments will receive retraining on grain bin rescues. Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB), a dedicated partner of Nationwide, played a pivotal role in facilitating this program with a generous donation and a nomination process organized through local county Farm Bureau chapters.

Winners of Rescue Tubes from Maryland:

  • Anne Arundel County Fire & EMS Department (Anne Arundel)
  • Cobb Island Volunteer Fire & EMS Department (Charles)
  • Easton Volunteer Fire Department (Talbot)
  • Hereford Volunteer Fire Company (Baltimore County)
  • Laytonsville District Volunteer Fire Department (Montgomery)
  • Linkwood-Salem Volunteer Fire Company (Dorchester)
  • Marion Fire Department (Somerset)
  • Oakland Volunteer Fire Department (Garrett)
  • Reisterstown Fire Department (Baltimore County)
  • Singerly Fire Company (Cecil)

Winners of Retraining:

  • Funkstown Volunteer Fire Company (Washington)
  • Goodwill Fire Company (Queen Anne’s)

The training is led by the Director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) Dan Neenan. The hands-on component consists of a state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulator loaded on a 20-foot trailer and able to hold 100 bushels of grain. Attending EMS and fire department personnel practice proper lock out/tag out and extrication procedures for both a fully engulfed and partially engulfed victim.

“Maryland Farm Bureau is committed to the safety of our state’s food producers,” said Parker Welch, Executive Director of MDFB. “We are thrilled to team up with our partners at Nationwide to equip our courageous first responders with the training and resources necessary to prevent these tragedies.”

According to the 2022 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities, more than 300 grain entrapments have been recorded in the past decade. In 2021, at least 29 grain entrapments were reported, resulting in 11 fatalities. Every February, MDFB celebrates National Grain Bin Safety Week to bring awareness to the dangers that grain bins can pose when safety measures are not enforced.


Maryland Farm Bureau Urges Passage of the 2023 Farm Bill for American Families

October 26, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) announced the launch of a new digital ad campaign encouraging Marylanders to advocate on behalf of the passage of the 2023 Farm Bill. This crucial piece of legislation, which plays a pivotal role in ensuring job production, a reliable food supply, and advancements in research, is more essential than ever in helping to feed American families.

Using actual Maryland farmers and MDFB members as spokespersons, the campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of the 2023 Farm Bill. It underscores the role of this legislation to meet the evolving needs of agriculture since the last Farm Bill’s enactment in 2018.

[Video participants in order of appearance: Jo-Ann Chason of Boxwood Farms in Harford County, Leslie Bauer of Rural Rhythm Farm in Howard County, Jamie Raley of Raley Farms in St. Mary’s County, Denny Remburg of the Frederick County Farm Bureau, Mary Lou Brown of Maple Breeze Farm in Dorchester County, and Wayne Stafford of Staff-Herd Farms in Cecil County]


“Amidst all of the disagreements in Washington, there is one thing that both sides and both chambers largely agree upon; the need to pass a Farm Bill,” said Wayne Stafford, President of MDFB. “The Maryland Farm Bureau is proud to support this common-sense bill dedicated to supporting our farmers, and we urge Marylanders to engage with their Members of Congress in backing this crucial measure.”

The release of the digital ad comes just one day after the House of Representatives elected a new Speaker of the House. In September, representatives of MDFB met with their Members of Congress and staff on behalf of a number of federal bills that will help Maryland farmers – including the 2023 Farm Bill. MDFB members emphasized the importance of policies that empower farmers to produce food efficiently while safeguarding our precious land, waterways, and air quality.

Senator Chris Van Hollen speaks to members of MDFB alongside Senator Ben Cardin

As discussions surrounding federal appropriation bills continue throughout the year, MDFB is committed to maintaining active engagement that emphasizes the 2023 Farm Bill’s significance. Earlier this year, MDFB joined the Farm Bill for American Families initiative, a multi-state effort to promote the passage of the Farm Bill.


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