145 Farmers Meet with Secretary of Agriculture, Legislators During Annual Legislative Day
Current ag-related bills covered during Maryland Farm Bureau’s Day in Annapolis
DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (February 9, 2023) — Attendance was high as 145 farmers attended Maryland Farm Bureau’s Day in Annapolis. Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks addressed attendees emphasizing the importance of current farming-related legislation and the industry’s impact on the state.
“Maryland Farm Bureau brought an incredible focus to agricultural issues with voices from around the state. It was quite an invigorating day to have the breadth of Maryland agriculture represented,” said Secretary Atticks.
This annual event provides Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) members the opportunity to stay current on legislation affecting farming and rural communities as well as to meet with their legislators. This year’s in-person format, the first live event since the Maryland Capitol’s pandemic closure, allowed for dozens of legislators to interact with farmers, with an issues briefing, office visits and a luncheon at the Governor Calvert House.
“Day in Annapolis has always been a successful event; today was no exception,” said Wayne Stafford, MDFB president who expressed his gratitude at the event for both the farmers who attended and the legislators who took time to learn about these important issues. “We had a capacity crowd of grassroots members who are not only passionate about farming, but also willing to meet with legislators to share their personal stories on how the decisions made in Annapolis affect their ability to grow and raise food, fiber and renewable fuel, which Maryland families rely on every day.”
Proposed legislation that MDFB is currently following addresses new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards; wildlife damage and reimbursement; urban agriculture grant scope; and various facets of value-added agriculture.
“Maryland Farm Bureau’s Day in Annapolis provides a great opportunity for farmers to speak directly with us and to highlight the issues that are most important to them and their farm,” said Senator Jason Gallion, who represents Harford and Cecil counties.
MDFB’s list of priority bills include the following, which it supports:
● HB152: Expands the purpose and scope of the Urban Agriculture Grant Program and the Urban Agriculture Grant Fund.
● HB253/SB262: Looks to increase on-farm composting to 40,000 square feet and allow the incorporation of food scraps to the feedstock used in the compost pile.
● HB389/SB34: Establishes a State Ombudsman for Value-Added Agriculture as a position in the Department of Agriculture.
● HB200/SB181: Appropriates full funding for critical agriculture programs in the key state departments.
● HB592/SB418: Outlines that value-added agricultural activities are a farm or agricultural use of land for assessment purposes.
● HB678/SB670: Adds to the existing agricultural sales and use tax exemption electricity that is used for agricultural purposes, such as raising livestock and poultry, irrigation, or crop production and grain harvest.
● HB378/SB310: Alters the Black Bear Damage Reimbursement Fund to authorize grants from the Fund to be made for projects that reduce conflicts between black bears and humans.
● SB327: Cleans up the landowner liability language to ensure a landowner has proper liability coverage if they allow hunters to hunt on their land; establishes the Wildlife Conservation, Education, and Outreach Program to provide outreach and foster an interest in outdoor recreation and stewardship, hunting, and wildlife conservation; and, establishes a stamp for hunting sika deer.
Some bills introduced during this session would make farming more difficult in Maryland.
“A few of the recently proposed bills have presented a concerning issue for Maryland farmers. If approved, these pieces of legislation would impose additional costs that might be difficult or even impossible to bear, considering that existing expenditure for running a farm is already high,” said Colby Ferguson, MDFB director of government and public relations.
MDFB opposes the following bills:
● HB230/SB224: Requires the state, by December 1, 2023, to enact CARB’s vehicle standards which establishes the requirements for the sale of new zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State.
● HB319/SB158: Would prohibit the Secretary of Agriculture from registering a pesticide for use against mosquitoes in the State unless the distributor of the pesticide submits to the Department test results indicating the pesticide has passed the PFAS test and an affidavit attesting to the legitimacy of the PFAS test results.
“The 2023 Maryland Farm Bureau Day in Annapolis was one of the best I’ve ever attended,” said Shelby Watson-Hampton, SMADC Director and Prince George’s County farmer. “It was filled with informative briefings and strong networking opportunities, and it was evident by the robust attendance of both those in the farming community and those from the legislature, that MDFB did a great job. I do think the annual Day in Annapolis has become one of the ‘must attend’ events of the Session season.”
The organization also drew the winner of its pickup truck raffle: Howie Feaga, an MDFB member from Howard County. The raffle funds will benefit MDFB programs.
# # #
MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 9,500 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation. For more information, visit MarylandFB.org.
Amber Pearson | Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc. (TSN Communications)
573.268.6853 | email@example.com