Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation

Archives and Reference

The items and links on this page are provided here for reference. They are no longer current.

2016 Mathias Ag Program Open for Applications

Annapolis (December 2015) — The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is once again offering the Kathleen A. P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program (Mathias Ag program) to support energy efficiency projects in the agriculture sector.

​Subject to funding availability, MEA will provide grants on a competitive basis to farms/businesses in the agriculture sector to cover up to 50% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency upgrades and up to 25% of the cost of eligible renewable energy upgrades, if applicable, after all other incentives have been applied. In fiscal year 2016, there is up to $650,000 available for eligible energy efficiency measures and up to $250,000 available for eligible renewable energy measures. For details, click here.

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants for Capital Equipment Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (October 15, 2015) - The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital equipment to make a product that is “value added.” Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years.

Applicants can receive up to $15,000 for projects such as production buildings and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, creamery production equipment, timber or wood products facilities and manure digesters. Cash matching funds are required, and must be at least equal to the amount of grant funds requested.

The submission deadline for applicants seeking to receive MVAPG-Capital Assets Option grants from MARBIDCO is Monday, December 14, 2015; by 4:00 p.m. (Applications received in the mail with a Saturday, December 12, 2015, postmark will also be accepted). Grant award announcements will be made by late January 2016. Late applications will not be accepted.

Please visit the MARBIDCO website for more information and to download the MVAPG-Capital Assets Option application form: www.marbidco.org/applications. Questions about the MVAPG-Capital Assets Option Program may also be addressed by contacting Andra Davis, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Specialist, at (410) 267-6807.

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The Maryland Chesapeake and Coastal Service's Working Waterfronts Program Announces Grant

Annapolis (September 8, 2015) - The Maryland Chesapeake and Coastal Service's Working Waterfronts Program is preparing to put out an RFP for their new Working Waterfronts Enhancement Grants.  The full RFP will not be released until September 14th.  Once available, the RFP will be on their website: http://dnr2.maryland.gov/ccs/Pages/workingwaterfronts.aspx

Pre-proposal workshops will be held on September 16th & 17th, and they would like to invite local governments and their non-profit, business, and community partners to attend.   

The sign-up link with additional information can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/19zYyGGPbI4PTq9hY5XnY6V2SbUI3ipRtT79PI8J2G4g/viewform

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 Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (May 12, 2015) - The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's independent agricultural producers to engage in value-added activities and pursue financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA-VAPG).  The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide grants program with approximately $30 million available for distribution in 2015. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital expenses in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects.

MARBIDCO is making available Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) of up to 15% of the amount of a USDA-VAPG award to help an eligible applicant meet the non-federal financial matching requirement.  All applicants that meet the MARBIDCO requirements will receive a commitment of matching funds to be included with their federal USDA-VAPG application.  A MVAPMG monetary award from MARBIDCO will only be provided to an applicant that is selected to receive USDA-VAPG funding.    

The application submission deadline for the USDA-VAPG program is Thursday, July 2, 2015. Questions regarding the USDA-VAPG can be addressed to the Maryland/Delaware Office of USDA-Rural Development at 302/857-3629, or visit USDA’s website for more information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html.
               
Applicants seeking to receive a commitment of matching funds from MARBIDCO must submit an application at least two weeks prior to the federal submission deadline. The deadline for submission of MARBIDCO applications is Monday, June 15, 2012 (or postmarked by June 12, 2015). Please visit the MARBIDCO website for more information and to download the MVAPMG application form: http://www.MARBIDCO.org. Questions about the MVAPMG may also be addressed by contacting Andra Davis, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Specialist, at 410/267-6807.

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USDA Announces $30 Million Available for Food Entrepreneurs and Agricultural Producers to Develop New Products

Washington (May 8, 2015) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is making $30 million available to farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs to develop new product lines. Funding will be made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

"Farmers and ranchers are creative people who, with a little help, can put that creativity to work and improve the bottom line for their operations," Vilsack said. "Value-Added Producer Grants enable them to develop new product lines to grow their businesses and expand their contributions to our nation's economy. This support is especially important for beginning farmers, military veterans engaging in farming and smaller farm operations participating in the local and regional food system."

More information on how to apply is on page 26528 of the May 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 7. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due July 2.
VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or additional uses for already developed product lines. Military veterans, socially disadvantaged, and beginning farmers and ranchers; operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches; farmer and rancher cooperatives; and applicants that propose mid-tier value chain projects are given special priority in applying for VAPGs. Additional priority is given to group applicants who seek funding for projects that "best contribute" to creating or increasing marketing opportunities for these type of operators.

Since 2009, USDA has awarded 853 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $104.5 million. Approximately 19 percent of the grants and 13 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. During the 2013-2014 funding cycle, nearly half of VAPG awards went to farmers and ranchers developing products for the local food sector. Value-Added Producer Grants are a key element of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work on local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development.

Congress increased funding for the VAPG program when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill. That law builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since the bill's enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including expanding access to rural credit, developing new markets for rural-made products, and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants For Capital Assets Now Available from MARBIDCO

Annapolis (April 16, 2015)…. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make a product that is “value added.” Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years.

Applicants can receive up to $15,000 for projects such as production buildings and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, creamery production equipment, timber or wood products facilities and manure digesters. Cash matching funds are required, and must be at least equal to the amount of grant funds requested.

The submission deadline for applicants seeking to receive MVAPG-Capital Assets Option grants from MARBIDCO is Tuesday, June 2, 2015; by 4:00 p.m. (Applications received in the mail with a Saturday, May 30, 2015, postmark will also be accepted). Grant award announcements will be made by early August. Late applications will not be accepted.

Please click here for more information and to download the MVAPG-Capital Assets Option application form. Questions about the MVAPG-Capital Assets Option Program may also be addressed by contacting Andra Davis, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Specialist, at (410) 267-6807.

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MDA to Introduce Farmers Market Finder – A Mobile Site for FMNP Participants
 
Annapolis (April 2, 2015) –  Beginning June 1, participants in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), Seniors in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) and participants in the WIC Fruit & Vegetable Check (FVC) Program will be able to find farmers markets near them on the Farmers Market Finder, a soon-to-be-launched mobile site. The purpose of the mobile site is to encourage low income residents to use their checks at farmers markets and increase overall check redemption. Maryland is the first state to pilot this program.
 
“Studies show that growing numbers of low-income Americans who may not be able to afford computers and in-home internet access are relying on smartphones as their primary means of reaching the internet,” said MDA Marketing Chief Mark Powell. “While the FMNP and WIC programs provide the opportunity for low income participants to spend their federal assistance dollars buying produce at farmers markets, participants need to know how to find the farmers markets where they can spend their checks. We will still circulate printed materials, but we see this as a low-cost, effective way to provide them with additional information and to encourage them to use their checks at farmers markets to buy to fresh produce. These checks also provide local farmers with additional income at the farmers markets, so we encourage their use in any way we can.”
 
The Farmers Market Finder will list all farmers markets in the state that have farm vendors who accept FMNP/SFMNP & FVC checks. The site will also remind users how to use their checks at farmers market, remind them what foods are eligible for purchase, and provide links to videos and photos of farmers who participate in the FMNP program. The app will also provide recipes for fresh produce dishes. Participants can also opt to receive mobile text messages every month to remind them to use their FMNP Checks.
 
The FMNP/SFMNP is a USDA Supplemental Nutrition Grant Program that provides grants to state agencies to provide checks to low-income participants. Checks can be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, cut herbs and honey (Seniors only) at farmers’ markets. The top three reasons participants give for not using their checks is: Not knowing where to find the farmers markets, not knowing how to prepare or cook the produce purchased and not remembering to use checks before they expire. The mobile site is designed to address those reasons.
 
Last year in Maryland, 58,825 FMNP checks were used by WIC participants and 42,284 SFMNP checks were used by Senior participants at farmers markets. A total of $505,561 was paid to Maryland farmers who are authorized to accept these checks.

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University of Maryland and Penn State Extension to Offer Food
Business Risk Management Class


Cockeysville (March 31, 2015) -- Because consumers have grown more concerned about how their food was grown and processed, every food business owner (and every farmer who is selling products directly to the public) needs to understand the ways that he or she can lessen the liability associated with placing food products in the marketplace.

To respond to this need, Penn State Extension, in collaboration with the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center and University of Maryland Extension, is offering a one-day class, Managing Risk for Food Businesses, at the Maryland Agriculture Resource Center, 1114
Shawan Road, Cockeysville, Maryland 21030, on Tuesday, May 12th. The primary instructor will be Winfred McGee, Penn State Business Management Educator. The session will run from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will combine educational presentations, discussions with successful food entrepreneurs, and a highly interactive learning environment, to address the following topics:

  • Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/ Good Handling Practices- general procedures that producers and packers of farm-fresh products should follow to ensure food safety of their product—especially for products sold to large, national customers.
  • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Planning - Steps or procedures to eliminate or reduce hazards associated with food production – learning what the producer or his/her co-packer should monitor for food safety.
  • Liability Insurance - The amount of coverage that is warranted and what purpose it will serve in protecting farm assets—learning from the experiences of those well and poorly insure captured in case studies.
  • Allergen Warnings - Complying with FDA regulations that food labels must state clearly if food products contain any ingredients that contain protein derived from the eight major allergenic foods.
  • Pro-active Recall Processes—Coding batches and keeping accurate records so that the entire product line need not be recalled in an emergency.

Registration for Managing Risk for Food Businesses, is $40.00 (includes lunch and all handouts,) payable by credit card or personal check. Please register by going to:
http://managingriskforfoodbusinesses.eventbrite.com.

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Workshops For CSA Operators to Highlight Membership Agreements
and Labor Issues

Annapolis (February 03, 2015) – Community Supported Farm (CSA) operators or those thinking about starting a CSA are invited to attend a workshop focused on drafting better membership agreements and addressing common labor issues. The workshops are free but registration is required. They will be held:

  • Feb. 26, from 9:30 a.m to 2 p.m., at the Frederick County University of Maryland Extension Office, 330 Montevue Lane in Frederick. Lunch will be provided. To register, call the office at (301) 600-1594 or register online at https://umecsaworkshop.eventbrite.com.

  • March 3, from 9:30 a.m to 2 p.m., at the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), 50 Harry S Truman Parkway in Annapolis. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact MDA Marketing at (410) 841-5770 or register online at http://mdacsaworkshop.eventbrite.com

“This initiative is designed to help our CSA farmers develop strong risk management tools,” said Mark Powell, MDA Chief of Marketing. “We want operators and consumers to have successful relationships.”

The workshops are sponsored by MDA, the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC), the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), the Maryland Farm Bureau, and Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service grant.

The workshop will focus on common issues with CSA membership agreements used in Maryland, an overview of a model CSA contract developed for Maryland CSAs, and a look at labor issues faced by CSA operators in the state.

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2015 Mathias Ag Program Open for Applications

Annapolis (December 19, 2014) — The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is pleased to announce the launch of the FY2015 Kathleen A. P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program (Mathias Ag program) to support energy efficiency projects in the agriculture sector.

MEA plans to distribute grants ranging from $15,000 to $60,000 for agriculturally-focused energy efficiency projects and will pay up to 50% of eligible costs for selected projects. New this year, MEA is expanding the program to include agricultural projects that incorporate renewable energy measures in conjunction with energy efficiency measures. Applications are due January 30, 2015.

For details, please visit http://energy.maryland.gov/Business/MathiasAg14.htm

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Beginner Farmer Training Program Now Accepting Applications

Cockeysville (October 2014) – A unique, year-long training program for beginning farmers is now accepting applications for farmer trainees in the Chesapeake region. The program’s goal is to equip the region’s brightest new farmers with the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to start a successful farm. 

The average age of farmers in the region is close to 60-years-old, according to the latest USDA census. At the same time, demand for fresh, local produce is also on the rise. A wave of aspiring farmers, young and older, are ready to take up the mantle, but obstacles are many: access to workable, affordable land; finding resources; and connecting with other new farmers, to name a few. Enter the Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP), now in its sixth year, which provides a comprehensive, year-long experience designed for new farmers ready to farm.

Background:

The BFTP is unique among farmer training programs across the nation in that it allows participants to work part- or full-time at their existing farms or jobs while completing training. Participants are encouraged to transition into farming with a detailed crop and business plan in place.

BFTP pairs trainees with experienced farmers who have already established profitable, sustainable farms in the region. In addition to this hands-on training, BFTP also provides classes, workshops, and field days. Speaking about his experience in the program, graduate Devin Barto said: “I believe that I could assume the responsibilities of a farm following this training experience because of the skills that I gained.”  Barto now manages a large CSA at Pennypack Farm in Horsham, PA.

BFTP accepts applications from new farmers located throughout the Chesapeake, including MD, DC, VA, WV, DE and PA.  To find out more about the program qualifications and to complete an online application, go to: http://www.futureharvestcasa.org/field-school/beginner-farmer-training-program.

 

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USDA News Alert . . . Extension of Application Date for Value-Added Producer Grant

(March 27, 2014) — To incorporate a 2014 Farm Bill change that creates a priority category for veteran farmers and ranchers under the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program, the application deadline for the VAPG Program has been extended.  The notice of the extension of the application deadline was published in the March 25, 2014, Federal Register under Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Page 16277).  The notice extends the application deadline to APRIL 8. 

For more information, contact:

Jeff Williams, jeff.williams2@de.usda.gov
Bruce Weaver, bruce.weaver@de.usda.gov

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Maryland Energy Administration Announces the 2014 Kathleen A.P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Grant Program

Annapolis (February 4, 2014) — The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced today that the Kathleen A. P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Grant (Mathias Ag) Program is now open for applications. The Mathias Ag Program will provide grants to farms and businesses in the agriculture sector to cover 50% of the cost of energy efficiency upgrades at sites that can achieve at least 20% savings in the building or areas improved. Named after the late Kathy Mathias, one of the Eastern Shore’s leading advocates and the wife of Maryland State Senator James N. Mathias, the program is now in its second year.

“Last year’s program demonstrated that an investment in Maryland’s agriculture sector helps our farms and farm businesses save money and energy,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “This not only helps the State reach its goals of reducing overall energy consumption 15% by 2015, and increasing our renewable energy generation to 20% by 2022, but also helps our agriculture sector stay competitive and innovative.”

Through the Mathias Ag Program, MEA will distribute grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 to ease the costs of installing eligible energy efficiency technologies. Examples of eligible farms and businesses in the agriculture sector include dairy, orchard, poultry/egg, greenhouse, vegetable, animal, vineyard, grain dryer, processor, sawmill, and aquaculture. The measures must enable a minimum 20% energy savings in the buildings or areas where they are installed. Awards will cover 50% of the project cost after any other incentives have been applied. Applications must be received by March 15, 2014.

"My children, Lauren and Trevor, and I are both humbled and honored that Kathy’s life continues to be memorialized through this program," said Maryland State Senator James N. Mathias, Jr. (D - Lower Eastern Shore) and Kathy's husband. “Kathy was fully dedicated to the people and lifestyle of the Eastern Shore and very fond of our rural and farming communities. Even through her most difficult challenges, Kathy continued to renew her boundless energy and positive attitude which exemplifies this program. The MEA has continued to help farmers use best practices to promote energy efficiency while saving money.”
For more information about this initiative, please visit: http://energy.maryland.gov/Business/2014mathiasag/index.html

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Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (January 2014) -- The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) is accepting applications for the Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) program, which can provide an eligible applicant up to 15 percent of the non-federal financial matching requirement of a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grant (USDA VAPG.) Together, these grants allow Maryland's independent agricultural producers to engage in value-added activities.

The Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grant Program (MVAPMG) was established to make grants available to those pursuing support from the U. S. Department of Agriculture Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA VAPG).  MARBIDCO was created with a mission to assist Maryland’s farm, forestry, and seafood businesses with achieving profitability and sustainability, promoting rural entrepreneurship, and nurturing emerging food and fiber markets.  MARBIDCO will make grants available to eligible applicants to provide up to 15% of the matching funds requirement under the USDA VAPG.  These funds will be required to be used for planning or working capital purposes in accordance with USDA regulations.  Eligible purposes include determining appropriate marketing techniques and creating business plans or paying operating expenses before a business has sufficient cash flow from operations. 

Eligible applicants must be an independent producer, agricultural producer group, farmer or ranch cooperative, or majority-controlled producer-based business venture (all defined terms under federal regulations). In addition, applicants must be making a product that is “value added”.  A product that is value added has in incremental value realized by the producer as a result of:  1) change in physical state; 2) differentiated production or marketing; 3) product segregation; and 4) economic benefit realized from the production of farm- or ranch-based renewable energy.

Under the USDA VAPG all applications will be screened for eligibility. The federal grant application submission deadline is February 24, 2014. Once the application has been determined to be eligible the application will be competitively rated in a nationwide competition.  Projects or ventures must be determined to be economically viable and sustainable.  The applications will then be screened for technical feasibility of the value added activity, the overall ability to operate efficiently, improvement to the rural economy, qualifications of personnel performing the proposed task and a demonstrated track record of performing similar activities, and a plan of work that incorporates the appropriate tasks to meet the stated objective.  The USDA VAPG applications with the highest ratings will be funded first. 
   
Applicants seeking to receive MARBIDCO matching funds for the USDA VAPG must submit an application to MARBIDCO at least two weeks prior to the federal deadline. The MARBIDCO deadline is 4:00 p.m. on Monday, February 10, 2014. Applications received in the mail with a February 7, 2014 postmark will also be accepted. Applicants must attach a complete copy of their federal application form to MARBIDCO as part of the submission including all required attachments. All MVAPMG applicants meeting the MARBIDCO requirements will receive a commitment letter of matching funds to be included with their federal applications. The MVAPMG commitment amount cannot exceed 15% of the required non-federal match, and it may be for a lesser amount depending on the quantity of MVAPMG applications that are received and the pool of available MARBIDCO funds. MVAPMG monetary awards will only be provided to those applicants that are actually successful in obtaining USDA VAPG awards. NOTE:  The maximum cumulative amount of grant funding a single applicant may receive from all MARBIDCO grant incentive programs is $50,000.

Questions about the MVAPMG may also be addressed by contacting 410-267-6807. Click here for information and application.

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Maryland Farm & Harvest, Newest Maryland Public Television Series Debuts November 19, 2013 - Series Showcases the Industry That Feeds Maryland 

Owings Mills (November 4, 2013) – Season one of Maryland Farm & Harvest makes its debut on Maryland Public Television (MPT) on Tuesday, November 19 at 7 p.m.

Maryland Farm & Harvest puts a human face on Maryland agriculture, telling the stories of the people who grow the state’s food and fiber.  From locations statewide, the series chronicles the successes of and the challenges to the state’s No. 1 industry. The show is hosted by Joanne Clendining, a veteran actress and the owner/operator of a family farm.

The November 19 premiere episode will feature:
•     Trey Hill of Kent County, a large-scale grain farmer who is all about technology, sustainable agriculture and working with local environmental groups
•     Terri Wolf-King of Dorchester County, a prominent grain and poultry grower, who has rebuilt her life and farm after a tragic fire claimed the lives of both her husband and son. 
•     The Palmyra Dairy Farm of Hagerstown in Washington County. Run by the Shank and Creek families, two fifth-generation dairy families, Palmyra Dairy Farm sells elite cow genetics in the form of embryos across the nation and in 11 countries. 

Each episode also includes a segment called “The Local Buy” featuring Al Spoler, local food and wine expert and documentary filmmaker, who will report from the field, taking viewers to farms and markets around the state to find the best of Maryland-grown food.

The series airs on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on MPT-HD and will be rebroadcast on Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m.  Each show will also re-air on the secondary channel MPT2 on Fridays at 6 p.m.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is MPT’s co-production partner for Maryland Farm & Harvest. Major funding is provided by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board. 

Additional funding is provided by the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation; the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation; MidAtlantic Farm Credit; the Maryland Soybean Board; Maryland’s Best; the Maryland Farm Bureau; the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Other support comes from the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts; the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation; the Maryland Nursery & Landscape Association; the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association; the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.; the Maryland Grape Growers Association’s George Mead Educational Fund; Harford County, Maryland; and the Mar-Del Watermelon Association.

For more information visit: http://www.mpt.org/farm/.

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MARBIDCO Participates in Rural Action Assembly Conference

Aberdeen (October 22, 2013)…. The Rural Maryland Council, Maryland State Office of Rural Health, and Maryland Rural Health Association recently collaborated to host the 2013 Rural Action Assembly.  The day-and-a-half conference focused on defining key issues for Maryland’s rural communities.

MARBIDCO's participation included a Forestry pre-conference bus tour (with the Maryland Forests Association) and assisting with the Forestry break-out sessions during the conference. Both of these forestry-focused activities provided participants with a good overview of the many facets and benefits of wood growing and the forest products industry in Maryland.

To view presentations from the Forestry session speakers, please click on the links below:

Steven W. Koehn, Director/State Forester, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service
"The Industry of Maryland's Forests"

Dr. Bob Tjaden, Extension Specialist/Professor, Environmental/Natural Resource Management and Policy, Department of Environmental Science & Technology, University of Maryland
"Maryland's Forest Resources in A Dynamic Environment"

Jonathan Kays, Natural Resources Extension Specialist, University of Maryland Extension
“Wood Energy-Renewable, Clean, Abundant, Affordable & Supporting Local Communities”

Kyle Haas, Clean Energy Program Manager, Maryland Energy Administration
"Wood Energy Policy In Maryland"

Daniel Rider, Forest Stewardship & Utilization Program Manager, Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service
"The Case for Wood Energy"

Additional Links:
Rural Maryland Council
Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service
University of Maryland Extension, Woodland Stewardship
Maryland Energy Administration
Maryland Forests Association

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (July 23, 2013)…. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make a product that is “value added.” Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years.

Applicants can receive up to $15,000 for projects such as production buildings and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, creamery production equipment, timber or wood products facilities and manure digesters. Cash matching funds are required, and must be at least equal to the amount of grant funds requested.
The submission deadline for applicants seeking to receive MVAPG-Capital Assets Option grants from MARBIDCO is Thursday, September 5, 2013; by 4:00 p.m. (Applications received in the mail with a Tuesday, September 3, 2013, postmark will also be accepted). Grant award announcements will be made by late October. Late applications will not be accepted.

For more information (or for an application), click here. Questions about the two MVAPG-Capital Assets Option Programs may also be addressed by contacting Linda Arnold, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Officer, at (410) 267-6807.

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GICA Survey Seeks Input from Farmers about County Zoning, Permitting and Health Regulations
(Farmers encouraged to participate in online survey)

Annapolis (January 28, 2013) – The Governor's Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture (GICA), responding to concerns expressed by farmers, is launching an online survey to find out how Maryland farmers’ experiences with county zoning and permitting and health regulations have impacted their businesses. Farmers are encouraged to take the survey by Feb. 28.

GICA will share the findings with the Maryland Association of Counties and ask for its input into the survey results. GICA will then convene a work group to develop recommendations.

"We have heard from farmers and farming organizations that there are issues at the county level that need to be reviewed in light of the evolving changes within the agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “At the same time, farmers need to know who to contact and what their rights are when a county zoning, permitting or health issue arises. Our goal is to provide guidance to farmers and counties to ensure both sides understand each other and the law. This survey is a first step toward meeting that goal. "

GICA was established by Executive Order in 2006 "to promote the economic profitability of agriculture in the State by ensuring that all appropriate State agencies work in a cooperative, coordinated manner with local government and industry groups in planning, implementing, overseeing and evaluating intergovernmental initiatives related to agricultural affairs of the State."

For more information, contact Joanna Kille at joanna.kille@maryland.gov or 410-841-5880.

 


Training workshops Offered for On-Farm Poultry and Rabbit Processing Certification Workshop to be held in Cambridge

Annapolis (March 28, 2013) – To help farmers meet growing consumer demand for local meats, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) in partnership with the University of Maryland will conduct a training workshop for on-farm poultry and rabbit slaughter and processing from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 7 at the Eastern Shore Hospital Center, 5262 Woods Rd, Cambridge in the English Hall.  Registration check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. The training fee is $20 and includes lunch and materials. To download a copy of the registration form, visit: www.mda.maryland.gov/Documents/poultry_rabbit_reg.doc. Space is limited, so register early. 

This workshop is part of a voluntary certification program to assist small poultry and rabbit operations to meet the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s approved source requirements to sell poultry and/or rabbit (off-farm) at farmers’ markets or to restaurants and retailers in Maryland. 

Workshop participants will learn to recognize diseases of public health concern, take basic biosecurity measures, write and implement basic Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures, develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans, and properly dispose of offal and waste water.

To become certified for off-farm sales, producers must:
•     Complete the training;
•     Pass a brief test at the training;
•     Submit an application for certification along with a $75 annual fee; and
•     Be inspected by MDA, which will conduct an inspection at least once per year to verify that producers are following food safety requirements.

For questions, call Sherry Weygant at 410-841-5769 or email: sherry.weygant@maryland.gov.  

To learn more about Maryland’s Poultry and Rabbit Program, visit: http://mda.maryland.gov/foodfeedquality/Pages/poultry_rabbit_program.aspx

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MARBIDCO Announces Maryland Value Added Producer Grant Program Recipients

Annapolis (November 19, 2012) – The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) announced today the recipients of a total of $182,382 in grant awards that will help a number of agricultural businesses with implementing value-added projects located in ten counties around Maryland.  Eighteen project requests were submitted in a competitive process and fifteen were able to be funded.

The Maryland Value Added Producer Grant – Capital Assets Option Program (MVAPG-CAO) was launched for the first time in the summer of 2010. The MVAPG-CAO Program was established to encourage Maryland’s agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital equipment to make or support a product that is “value-added”.  A by-product of this effort will help to spur job creation and retention in rural and urban-edge communities. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or timber products processor. Selected applicants could receive up to $15,000 to assist with purchasing or installing farm structures and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, timber or wood products facilities, or manure digesters. Each selected recipient must also provide, at a minimum, a 100% cash match.
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Maryland Energy Administration Announces The Kathleen A.P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program

Annapolis (August 15, 2012) — Today, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced the Kathleen A. P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program. The program will provide grants to farms/businesses in the agriculture sector to cover up to 75% of the cost of energy efficiency upgrades. Named after the late Kathleen A. P. Mathias, one of the Eastern Shore’s leading advocates and the wife of Maryland State Senator James N. Mathias, the new program is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings program. Under this program, $1 million will be available to farms/businesses in Maryland’s agriculture sector to help plan, implement, and complete the upgrades.

“This investment in Maryland’s agriculture sector will help our farms and farm businesses save money and energy, while helping the State reach its goal of reducing overall energy consumption 15% by 2015,” said Malcolm Woolf, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “These showcase projects will highlight to all of Maryland the gains that can be made through energy efficiency upgrades in the agriculture sector and indeed all sectors of our economy.” Click Here for Entire Article

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MDA Seeking Nominations for the Maryland Agricultural Commission Seven Positions Available

Annapolis (May 7, 2012) –  The Maryland Agricultural Commission is seeking nominations to fill seven positions on the Maryland Agricultural Commission.  The open positions represent: bio-fuels, food processing, direct farm marketing, aquaculture, vegetables, agri-tourism and nursery. Interested parties must have experience in the field of the position that they are interested in filling.  The appointments are made by Governor Martin O’Malley and each member is eligible to serve two, three-year appointed terms. 

The Maryland Agricultural Commission represents various commodities and organizations across the state and serves as an advisory body to Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture, and includes both a consumer and a University of Maryland (ex officio) representative. As a group, the members address legislative and policy issues that affect Maryland agribusiness. The commission meets monthly.

For more information, contact Rachel Melvin at (410) 841-5882 or rachel.melvin@maryland.gov.

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Poultry Processing and Marketing Group launching in Central Maryland

Keedysville (March 22, 2012) - Got poultry? Need them processed? Looking to rein in production costs through group purchases and services? Could you use an additional volume market for your sustainable raised poultry? Then you need to attend an information and organizational meeting of a new group forming in Central Maryland whose mission is to:

  • Provide safe, environmentally responsible, and economically feasible processing services to small and mid-sized poultry producers.
  • Organize a buying group for chicks, poults, feeds, and poultry supplies to secure quantity discounts.
  • Provide training and continuing education about regulations, marketing, and production.
  • Service volume sales accounts through aggregation of group member birds to provide an additional outlet to group members and sufficient supplies to volume buyers.

There is a tremendous demand in Maryland for poultry produced under sustainable and environmentally appropriate management systems such as free-range and small flock production. In 2010, the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene implemented a training course for on-farm processing of poultry. While this process does allow for retail sale of on-farm processed poultry now, it requires:

  1. Every farm to purchase its own set of processing equipment.
  2. Requires each farmer to develop a composting or treatment system for processing wastes.
  3. Provides for limited traceability of product.

Members in this new poultry processing and marketing group will still be required to complete the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Poultry Processing License training and receive a license from the State before processing birds with this group. Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Energy Administration Opens Innovative Wood Stove Grant Pilot Program: $50,000 in Grants Available for Residential Clean Wood and Pellet Stoves

Annapolis (September 7, 2012) –- Today, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) began accepting grant applications for clean burning wood stove installations that displace electric or non-natural gas fossil fuel heating systems as part of its Residential Clean Energy Grant Program. This is the first in a series of activities that MEA plans to implement to help develop the bioenergy market in Maryland.  "This program allows clean and renewable energy to be brought right into the homes of Marylanders, while advancing the endeavors of our growing bioenergy sector," said Fred Hoover, MEA's Director of Clean Energy.

$50,000 will be available to Maryland home owners who purchase and install approved stick (log) or pellet wood stoves on a first-come, first-served basis.  For each individual stove purchased and installed, $400 will be available for stick wood stoves that are Environmental Protection Agency certified and emit no more than 3 grams of PM/hr., and $600 for pellet wood stoves that meet Washington Emission Standards and emit no more than 2 grams of PM/hr.

This initiative has been championed by Delegate Heather Mizeur (D- Montgomery County), who praised MEA’s efforts to implement this cost saving program. “Modern wood and pellet stoves offer rural families a way to take charge of their clean energy future,” said Del. Mizeur. “Thanks to MEA for establishing this valuable grant program.”

For more information on the pilot program or to apply for a grant, please visit:
http://energy.maryland.gov/Residential/woodstoves/index.html

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Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (September 6, 2012) -- The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) is accepting applications for the Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) program, which can provide an eligible applicant up to 15 percent of the non-federal financial matching requirement of a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grant (USDA-VAPG.) Together, these grants allow Maryland's independent agricultural producers to engage in value-added activities.

The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide grants program with about $14 million available for distribution in 2012. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital expenses in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. MARBIDCO is making available Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) of up to 15% of the amount of a USDA-VAPG award to help an eligible applicant meet the non-federal financial matching requirement.  All applicants that meet the MARBIDCO requirements will receive a commitment of matching funds to be included with their federal USDA-VAPG application.  A MVAPMG monetary award from MARBIDCO will only be provided to an applicant that is selected to receive USDA-VAPG funding.  
   
The application submission deadline for the USDA-VAPG program is Monday, October 15, 2012. Questions regarding the USDA-VAPG can be addressed to the Maryland/Delaware Office of USDA-Rural Development at 302/857-3629, or visit USDA’s website for more information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html

Applicants seeking to receive a commitment of matching funds from MARBIDCO must submit an application at least two weeks prior to the federal submission deadline. The deadline for submission of MARBIDCO applications is Monday, October 1, 2012 (or postmarked by September 29, 2012).

Questions about the MVAPMG may also be addressed by contacting Kristen Robinson, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Officer, at 410/267-6807.

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UMES Small Farm Conference Returns

Princess Anne (September 11, 2012) -- Entering its 9th year, the UMES Small Farm Conference provides a venue for farmers, landowners and supporters of agriculture to come together to network and learn about new opportunities and strategies that promote farm profitability and sustainability. 

Gary Matteson, vice president at the Farm Credit Council in Washington, D.C., delivers the keynote address to kick off the conference on Saturday.  Previously a small farmer who operated a greenhouse business growing anemones for the wholesale cut flower market in Epsom, N.H., Matteson brought a great deal of experience to his position, where he has served young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers since 2008. Connecting directly with organizations that advocate for minority farmers is another part of his duty as VP at Farm Credit.  

Other conference highlights include sessions that are divided into three different educational tracks: alternative agriculture, farm business and marketing and health and wellness.  For more information about the 9th Annual Small Farm Conference, call 410-651-6206/6070 or send an email to mce@umes.edu.  Online registration and regularly updated information is available at www.smallfarminstitute.com.  

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (July 3, 2012)…. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make a product that is “value added.” Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years. Applicants can receive up to $15,000 for projects such as production buildings and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, creamery production equipment, timber or wood products facilities and manure digesters. Cash matching funds are required, and must be at least equal to the amount of grant funds requested.

The submission deadline for applicants seeking to receive MVAPG-Capital Assets Option grants from MARBIDCO is Wednesday, August 22, 2012 by 4:00 p.m. (Applications received in the mail with a
Monday, August 20, 2012 postmark will also be accepted). Grant award announcements will be made by early October. Late applications will not be accepted. Click Here for entire Article.

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USDA Unveils the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass
New Web Resource Maps USDA Support for Local and Regional Food Projects, Highlights Business Opportunities for Farmers, Ranchers and Growers

Washington (February 29, 2012) - Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass, an interactive web-based document and map highlighting USDA support for local and regional food projects and successful producer, business and community case studies. While hosting a live webinar to highlight USDA's work over the past three years, the Secretaries emphasized how local and regional food systems across the country create additional economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs, expand healthy food access and meet growing customer demand.

"USDA works every day to strengthen American agriculture, drive job growth and support farm-family income," said Vilsack. "The KYF Compass highlights how USDA support for local and regional food systems has brought additional opportunities to our country's farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors and food entrepreneurs. The stories and maps in the Compass underscore how diverse and innovative American agriculture can be." Click Here for entire Article.

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MARBIDCO Announces Recipients for the Maryland Value-Added Producer Grant Program

Annapolis (December 22, 2011) – The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) announced today the recipients of a total of $195,500 in grant award investments that will help a number of agricultural businesses with implementing value-added projects located in ten counties around Maryland.   Out of nineteen project requests that were submitted in a competitive process, thirteen were selected for funding after a thorough review. These grants will assist the recipients in diversifying their businesses to include activities ranging from making cheese and ice cream to enhancing opportunities for agritourism.

The Maryland Value Added Producer Grant – Capital Assets Option (MVAPG-CAO) Program was launched for the first time during the summer of 2010. The program has now been established as a yearly offering by MARBIDCO to encourage Maryland’s agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make or support a product that is “value-added”.  A by-product of this effort will help to spur job creation and retention in rural and urban-edge communities. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or timber products processor. Selected applicants may receive up to $20,000 to assist with purchasing or installing farm structures and major fixtures, livestock or seafood product processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, timber or wood products facilities, or manure digesters. And each recipient must also provide at least a 100% cash match. The average award amount in 2011 is approximately $15,000. Click Here for entire Article.

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Buy Local for the Holidays
Unique Gift Ideas that are both Delicious and Support Our Local Economy

Annapolis (December 13, 2011) – This holiday season, consider your Maryland agriculture options when purchasing gifts.  Maryland farmers and specialty food and beverage producers offer a wide range of items to enjoy.  Depending on individual tastes, options include a bottle of wine, local artisan cheese, fresh meats, plants, and much more.  For a gift that keeps on giving, why not give a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership.  A year’s share offers months of weekly produce from a Maryland farm. Other local gift ideas involve putting together a gift basket of fresh produce from farmer’s markets or purchasing a gift certificate to a farm bed and breakfast. Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available From MARBIDCO

ANNAPOLIS (August 26, 2011)…. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make a product that is “value added”. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years.
 
Applicants can receive up to $20,000 for projects such as production buildings and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, timber or wood products facilities, and manure digesters.  Cash matching funds are required, and must be at least equal to the amount of grant funds requested. Click Here for entire Article.

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Governor Martin O’Malley Announces Streamlined Aquaculture Permitting
Army Corps of Engineers Expedites Approval Process

Baltimore, Md. (August 15, 2011) — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced a new streamlined and centralized aquaculture permitting process for Marylanders interested in growing oysters and other shellfish in Maryland waters. Thanks to a realignment of State requirements approved by the General Assembly earlier this year and a cooperative effort between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, qualifying applicants will now be able to submit a joint state-federal application and the Corps is expediting the approval process through issuance of the Regional General Permit.

“We are cutting the red tape, streamlining the permitting process and making it easier to do business in Maryland,” said Governor O’Malley. “I want to thank Colonel Anderson and his team for helping us improve this process. Together, we can create jobs, grow our seafood industry and make a more sustainable future for the Chesapeake Bay and our native oyster.” Click Here for entire Article. 

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Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO

ANNAPOLIS (July 8, 2011)….The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's independent agricultural producers to engage in value-added activities and pursue financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA-VAPG).  The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide grants program with approximately $37 million available for distribution in 2011. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital purposes in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects.

MARBIDCO is making available Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) of up to 20% of the amount of a USDA-VAPG award to help an eligible applicant meet the non-federal financial matching requirement.  All applicants that meet the MARBIDCO requirements will receive a commitment letter of matching funds to be included with their federal USDA-VAPG application.  A MVAPMG monetary award from MARBIDCO will only be provided to an applicant that is selected to receive USDA-VAPG funding.  Click Here for entire Article.      

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USDA Invites Applications for Value Added Producer Grant to Assist Farmers

Investing In Rural America Essential to Job Creation and Business Growth

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2011 – Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that applications are being accepted for grants to provide economic assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.

"By creating value-added products, farmers and ranchers can expand economic opportunities, create jobs and keep wealth in rural communities," Merrigan said. "These funding opportunities will promote business expansion and entrepreneurship by helping local businesses get access to capital, technical assistance and new markets for their products and services." Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Increases Vineyard Acres 200 Percent in Last Decade Top Grape Growers are Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore and Queen Anne’s Counties

ANNAPOLIS, MD (MAY 25, 2011) – Maryland has experienced a 200 percent increase in the number of acres dedicated to planting grapes since 2001, bringing the state’s grape growing industry closer to meeting the demand for locally grown grapes by Maryland wineries, according to the 2010 Maryland Vineyard Survey, recently released by the Maryland Grape Growers Association (MGGA). Click Here for entire Article.

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New Toolkit Available for Communities, Farmers, Local Officials
Highlights the Changing Needs of Maryland Agriculture

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 16, 2011) – The Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture (GICA) today launched a “toolkit” designed to help Marylanders understand farming in the State and how they can support it. “Understanding and Responding to the Changing Needs of Maryland Agriculture: A Toolkit for Local Communities” aims to provide local communities and officials with a better understanding of the current state of Maryland agriculture. The toolkit suggests tools, methods and resources that will help farmers, their neighbors and local officials better work together towards creating communities that support both profitable agricultural production and a high quality of life. Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Agricultural Marketing Professionals Meet with Their Counterparts from Virginia

(Annapolis, April 5, 2011) ……On March 29, 2011, a group of agricultural marketing professionals from around the State of Maryland traveled to nearby Purcellville (Loudoun County) Virginia to meet and interact with their counterparts in Virginia.  The sharing of ideas, strategies, and plans was the goal of the gathering among two dozen marketing professionals all with a focus on developing profitable local food and fiber production.  The meeting, which was the first of its kind and organized by the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, was designed as a forum to share the best local practices of both states and create partnerships that bridge state lines.  Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland’s Best Promotes Locally-Raised Meats during March More than 130 local farms have meats for sale
              
ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 17, 2011) – From beef and pork to poultry, lamb, emu and many other meats, Maryland farmers have a wide variety of meats available for consumers who want to buy locally-raised products.  The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is promoting local meats during the month of March through its Maryland’s Best branding program.  Maryland’s Best, through its website and limited advertising, helps state producers sell their products and helps consumers locate the products.
              
“Maryland livestock producers raise some of the best and freshest meats available,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance.  “MDA is encouraging consumers to continue buying locally-produced meats and other farm products. Buying local supports our farmers, rural economies and helps keep Maryland smart, green and growing. It helps the environment by keeping land in farming rather than development and reducing the impacts of transporting our food long distances.  Consumers can get to know the livestock producer and how the animals were raised.”
Click Here for entire Article.

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MDA ANNOUNCES NEW SPECIALTY CROP GRANT PROGRAM
Application Deadline is May 12

ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 15, 2011) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today announced a grant program to fund projects that solely enhances the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill.

MDA expects to administer funds totaling approximately $300,000 based on previous funding cycles, though; MDA has not received confirmation from USDA on the total amount of grant funds available. Of this amount, Food Safety, Marketing with Maryland’s Best and Specialty Crop Distribution Chain grants will be awarded for projects with a minimum level of $20,000.  MDA intends to fund projects that can produce the highest degree of measurable benefits to Maryland specialty crop producers in relation to each dollar spent and need to have the support from specialty crop producers.  New this year, organizations are required to have DUNS numbers (Data Universal Numbering System) which can be obtained online via this website: http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform or over the phone: 1-866-705-5711.  You must have a DUNS number before you apply for the grant. Click Here for entire Article.

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Deputy Agriculture Secretary Announces Value Added Producer Grant Program Changes to Assist Farmers as They Add Value to Products

Job creation, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Support for Regional Supply Networks To Benefit

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2011 – Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced changes to the Value Added Producer Grant Program that will provide additional opportunities to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. The changes, outlined in an interim rule published in today’s Federal Register, will also assist independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and will support local and regional supply networks. 

“Improvements to this popular program will create additional economic and job opportunities by helping owners of small and medium-sized family farms sell their products in local and regional markets, part of our drive to ‘win the future,’” Merrigan said.  “USDA investments such as these are part of the Obama administration’s work to support farmers, ranchers and rural businesses.” Click Here for entire Article.

Click Here for the Federal Register: Value-Added Producer Grant Program

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Training workshops for On-Farm Poultry and Rabbit Processing Certification Workshops to be held in Clear Springs, Annapolis and Cambridge in March

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 9, 2011) – To help farmers meet growing consumer demand for local meats, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) in partnership with the University of Maryland and Washington County Agriculture Marketing Department will conduct a training workshop for on-farm poultry and rabbit slaughter and processing.  This workshop is part of a voluntary certification program to assist small poultry and rabbit operations to meet the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s approved source requirements to sell poultry and/or rabbit (off-farm) at farmers’ markets or to restaurants and retailers in Maryland. 

Workshop participants will learn to recognize diseases of public health concern, take basic biosecurity measures, write and implement basic Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures, develop Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans, and properly dispose of offal and waste water. Click Here for entire Article.

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Results of 2010 Maryland Equine Census Announced Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties Lead Inventory, Value and Acreage

ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 8, 2011) – County-level data collected from Maryland’s 2010 Equine Census reveals an industry with assets valued at $5.6 billion and expenditures just under $513 million.  There are approximately 81,000 equine animals in Maryland that are located in over 16,040 locations around the state.  The two largest equine counties are Prince George’s and Baltimore at 9,000 and 8,950 head respectively.  Equine operations account for a total of 587,000 acres of which 188,000 acres are devoted to equine and 88,000 acres are enrolled in land preservation programs.

“These data show the significant value and size of the equine industry in Maryland and serve as confirmation of the economic importance of this viable industry to the State,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “We are committed to fostering Maryland’s equine industry and doing all we can to protect the thousands of jobs that depend on our rich history of horse racing and recreational riding.” Click Here for entire Article.

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Governor O’Malley Re-Opens Aquaculture Financing Loan Program to New Applicants

Annapolis, Md. (December 9, 2010) — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that Maryland's new shellfish aquaculture financing program will be accepting a second round of applications between January 2 and January 31, 2011. The program received 16 applications totaling more than $1.3 million during the first round, which closed on November 30. There is a total of $2.2 million currently available for the program, which is a cooperative effort among the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), the University of the Maryland Sea Grant Extension (UME) and the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO).

“We are very pleased with the original response to this program, which we created to provide affordable financing to watermen and other individuals starting or expanding commercial shellfish aquaculture operations,” said Governor O’Malley. “This second application period will allow those who were unable to meet the original deadline another opportunity to participate.”
Click Here for entire Article.

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GOVERNOR O'MALLEY ANNOUNCES SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE LOAN PROGRAM

State Directs $10.6 Million to support oyster restoration, aquaculture and green jobs in fiscal year 2011

Annapolis MD (October 21, 2010) ― Governor Martin O'Malley today announced a new program to provide affordable financing to watermen and others interested in launching or expanding commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in Maryland.  Of the State's $10.6 million oyster restoration budget for fiscal year 2011, $2.2 million in subsidized loans will be available for aquaculture projects through a partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO).

"When we announced our visionary plan to restore our native oyster last December, we promised to support our watermen and other working Marylanders interested in transitioning to aquaculture - the major source of shellfish production around the world," said Governor O'Malley.  "With the help of Senator Barbara Mikulski and our congressional delegation, we are making good on that promise, with a loan program that will help new businesses get off the ground, help existing businesses expand, and create new green jobs." Click Here for entire Article.

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MARBIDCO Announces Recipients for the Maryland Value Added Producer Grant Program

Annapolis (October 14, 2010) – The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) announced today the recipients of a total of $198,599 in grant awards that will help a number of agricultural businesses with implementing value-added projects located in ten counties around Maryland.  Some twenty-two project requests were submitted in a competitive process and thirteen were able to be funded.

The new Maryland Value Added Producer Grant – Capital Assets Option (MVAPG-CAO) program was launched for the first time early in the summer of 2010. The MVAPG-COA program was established to encourage Maryland’s agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make or support a product that is “value-added”.  A by-product of this effort will help to spur job creation and retention in rural and urban-edge communities. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or timber products processor. Selected applicants may receive up to $20,000 to assist with purchasing or installing farm structures and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, timber or wood products facilities, or manure digesters. Each recipient must also provide a 100% cash match. Click Here for entire Article.

DNR To Host Three Shellfish Tagging And Aquaculture
Open Houses

Annapolis, MD (November 1, 2010) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service will launch a commercial shellfish tagging program in August 2011 to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) national public safety requirements. DNR will host three open houses in November to discuss the elements of the program and to solicit ideas from watermen and aquaculturists about the development and implementation of this important program.

Tagging shellfish will allow public health officials to trace back to a source if an illness is caused by eating shellfish. A shellfish harvesting area can be checked for water quality and other potential health concerns. DNR, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Department of the Environment may then take action to reduce the public risk. The tagging system will also enhance DNR’s ability to monitor the harvest and manage a sustainable fishery. Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Announces Grant Awardees for Specialty Crops Selected Projects include Food Safety, Sod, Christmas Trees, and Wine
            
ANNAPOLIS, MD (Sept. 17, 2010) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today announced winners of $387,455 in grants that will enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in Maryland. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program was authorized under the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, and amended under the 2008 Farm Bill.   Funding is expected to be made available to MDA for the specialty crop block grants from 2010 through 2012.

“We are pleased to announce awardees of the Maryland Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The 2008 Farm Bill provided significant grant funding dedicated to specialty crops to become available,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “These funds are a great opportunity to help farmers and value-added producers advance and promote local specialty crops in the marketplace and help keep Maryland smart, green and growing.” Click Here for entire Article.

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LEAD Maryland Accepting Fellow Applications

The LEAD Maryland Foundation is accepting applications through October 1 for the next class of LEAD Fellows.

LEAD Maryland is a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying and developing leadership for agriculture, natural resources and rural communities. The fellowship is a two-year leadership training program which will span 2011 and 2012. Class size is between 20 to 25.

Complete information and application materials are available at www.leadmaryland.org

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CAROLINE AND DORCHESTER FARMS RECEIVE GRANTS FROM USDA AND MARBIDCO

Federalsburg, July 19, 2010 - USDA Rural Development State Director Jack Tarburton highlighted the selection of three Maryland Ag businesses to receive a portion of $22.5 million through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.  Two of the recipients are located in Dorchester and Caroline Counties where USDA officials presented them with ceremonial checks followed by tours of their Ag operations.
 
The Value-Added Producer Grant program is a nationally competitive program designed to support farm families in rural America by helping them to market their commodities and increase their financial returns.  Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for planning activities or to provide working capital to market value-added agricultural products and farm-based renewable energy projects.  A value-added product is created when a producer takes an agricultural commodity, such as milk or vegetables, and processes or prepares it in a way that increases its value to consumers.  Click Here for entire Article.

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You're Invited! Agriculture and Rural Business Forum                    
                   
Innovations and Technological Solutions Addressing Challenges Impacting Western Maryland Agri-Businesses  

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) are hosting a forum to discuss current issues in farming in Western Maryland on Thursday, September 16, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rocky Gap near Cumberland. MARBIDCO is one of the event partners assisting with the forums.

This round table discussion -- which will focus on Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties -- will encourage active participation by the speakers, ag professionals, and farmers/growers. The speakers are scientists from ARS who have practical on-farm/nursery experience and have products in the market place that address the specific topic issues. Click Here for entire Article.

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MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES VIDEO CONTEST FOR STUDENTS:  Maryland Farm to School YouTube Video Contest Encourages Students to Think about Locally-Grown Foods

Annapolis, MD (August 10, 2010) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has launched a YouTube video contest asking students what buying local means to them. In a video lasting no longer than three minutes, students must thoughtfully and creatively answer the question, “What does ‘local food’ mean to you?” The first place winner(s) will receive an Apple iPod Touch, a Maryland State Park Pass, and a school lunchtime visit from MDA Secretary Buddy Hance.

“Our goal is to engage students about the origins of their food in a way that is both meaningful and fun,” said Agriculture Secretary Hance. “It’s important to teach students that food doesn’t come from a grocery store – it comes from a farmer. This contest aims to educate students about where their food comes from and all of the benefits of buying local.Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available From MARBIDCO

Annapolis (June 30, 2010)…. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make a product that is “value added. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years. Click Here for entire Article.

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DNR To Host Four Public Oyster Regulation Hearings

Annapolis, MD (June 21, 2010) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has set the dates, times and locations for four public regulatory hearings as part of the implementation of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Plan. Governor O’Malley and DNR submitted the proposed regulations in May after months of public discussion, DNR open houses and robust input from thousands of citizens following the Governor’s announcement of the plan in December 2009. Click Here for entire Article.

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Center for Maryland Agriculture - $10 Million Facility to Serve as Focal Point for Local Agriculture Industry

Towson, MD (June 9, 2010) - At a grand opening ceremony for the new Baltimore County Farmers Market at the Maryland State Fair, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith announced that he has selected Chris McCollum to serve as Executive for the County's new agricultural center slated to open in September.

"Chris will do an excellent job managing this important facility and will provide the vision and leadership that will quickly establish it as a true focal point for local agriculture here and throughout the region," Smith said. "We created this center to help grow Baltimore County's $300 million agriculture industry by developing important synergies among farm services agencies and the agricultural community." Click Here for entire Article.

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Celebrate National Dairy Month in June
Milk and Dairy Products among Maryland’s Top Three Agricultural Commodities

Annapolis, MD (June 8, 2010) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture encourages all Marylanders to celebrate National Dairy Month by enjoying healthy and nutritious dairy products this month, and all year long.  As Maryland’s third largest agricultural commodity, milk and dairy products accounted for more than $194 million in farm receipts in 2008. National Dairy Month celebrates the value of milk and dairy products as part of well-balanced diets of every American, well as the importance of milk production to the agricultural industry.

"Dairy farming is a vital part of Maryland's agriculture," said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. "These farms are associated with a quarter million acres of open, productive farmland and provide us with milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese and many other nutritious foods. The O’Malley Administration is committed to keeping family farms profitable, which helps to keep Maryland smart, green and growing. I encourage Marylanders to support our dairy farmers."  Click Here for entire Article.

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USDA Announces Availability of Compliance Guide for Mobile Slaughter Units 

Washington, DC (May 24, 2010) - As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced the availability of the compliance guide for mobile slaughter units. This document presents recommendations and is not a regulatory requirement. Food Safety and Inspection Service will post this compliance guide on its Significant Guidance Documents Web page at www.fsis.usda.gov/Significant_Guidance/index.asp.

"USDA is excited to offer this help to small producers and encourages establishments who own or manage mobile slaughter units to use this guidance document to help meet food safety regulatory requirements," said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold R. Mande. "Food must be safe, regardless of where it is produced, and FSIS has worked with mobile unit operators to develop inspection procedures tailored to their needs." Click Here for entire Article.

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NRCS Announces Initiative To Improve Agricultural Energy Efficiency

Annapolis, MD, (May 21, 2010) - USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced an initiative designed to help Maryland agricultural producers transition to more energy efficient operations. This initiative will make funding available for individual on-farm energy audits designed to save both money and energy when fully implemented.

"Helping Maryland's farmers reduce energy use helps everyone’s bottom line," said Jon Hall, NRCS State Conservationist for Maryland. "More efficient energy use will help our agricultural producers become more energy independent." Click Here for entire Article.

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MAERDAF 2011 applications are currently being accepted! 

Annapolis, MD (May 10, 2010) - The Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF), administered by the Rural Maryland Council, provides grants to rural-serving nonprofit organizations that promote statewide and regional planning, economic and community development, and agricultural and forestry education. Also eligible are rural community colleges that support small and agricultural businesses through enhanced training and technical assistance. MAERDAF's goal is to increase the overall capacity of rural-serving nonprofit organizations and community colleges to meet a multitude of rural development challenges and to help them establish new public/private partnerships for leveraging non-state sources of funding. Click Here for entire Article.

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New On-Farm Processing Guide for Maryland Farmers: "Processing for Profits"

Keedysville, MD (April 16, 2010) - Got questions about value-added processing, the regulations, and its profit potential for your farm?  Get answers in the new publication, “Processing for Profits.”  This publication is an  assessment tool and guide for small-scale, on-farm food processors. While written with Maryland farmers in mind, any producer interested in the potential and pitfalls of on-farm and value-added food processing, will find this new resource helpful in their planning and implementation process. Click Here for entire Article.

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Training for Poultry and Rabbit Certification Farmers Must Attend Seminar to Participate in the New Program

Annapolis, MD (March 31, 2010) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) in conjunction with the University of Maryland will conduct training for on-farm poultry and rabbit slaughter and processing on May 6.  This one-day workshop is mandatory for producers who want to become certified to sell their poultry and/or rabbits at farmers’ markets or to restaurants and retailers in Maryland.  Workshop participants will learn how to recognize diseases of public health concern, basic biosecurity measures, how to write and implement basic Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures, Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans, offal and waste water disposal. Click Here for entire Article.

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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance on New Initiatives and Revised Regulations to Help Farmers with Environmental Requirements and Storm Clean-up

Annapolis, MD (March 11, 2010) – “Governor Martin O’Malley announced yesterday a number of new initiatives to help farmers meet environmental requirements and recover from the historic snow storms in February.  The announcement followed a meeting on Monday with the Eastern Shore Delegation, Governor O’Malley, Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson and me. 

I am pleased to provide more information about these important new developments and thank Governor O’Malley for his leadership in moving these solutions forward for the benefit of the farmers, the agricultural economy and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.  Thanks also to the members of the Eastern Shore Delegation for their time, candor and flexibility in seeking solutions that will work. Click Here for entire Article.

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GOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY ANNOUNCES ACTION FOR EASTERN SHORE POULTRY FARMERS State revises regulations to assist farmers struggling to recover from record-snow

Annapolis, MD (March 10, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley announced today new assistance for poultry farmers in Maryland, as the state works with poultry industry stakeholders to address environmental standards and recover from snow-related damage last month.  Governor O’Malley met with the Eastern Shore delegation Monday evening, along with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment to discuss concerns and solutions.

 “We’re working together to find solutions that protect our natural resources and strengthen family farming in our state,” said Governor O’Malley.  “Maryland farmers serve as stewards of the environment by protecting land that might otherwise be developed.  It’s our obligation to find way we can continue to protect the environment while keeping family farming profitable.  I’m pleased we’re able to come together on these actions to support our family farms and the jobs that support them.” Click Here for entire Article.

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Snow Disaster Assistance Is Available for Qualifying Farmers

Annapolis, MD (March 5, 2010) - MARBIDCO, working with its partners at the Maryland Energy Administration and Ensave (a private farm energy audits company), may be able to assist farmers wishing to rebuild poultry houses and dairy barns that were destroyed by the recent snow storms. Unsecured loans of up to $15,000 are available at favorable interest rates if farm operation energy savings can be calculated from the destroyed chicken house or barn versus what is planned for the reconstructed facility. Cash incentives, energy audits and technical assistance may also be available directly from EnSave, Maryland's farm energy efficiency service provider.

For more information please contact Corey Conant at EnSave (1-800-732-1399), or Kristen Robinson at MARBIDCO (410-267-6807).

Other federal and state programs may also be available to help producers trying to recover from the recent back-to-back snow storms. The Maryland Department of Agriculture has prepared a comprehensive guide of the resources that are available. Please click here for more information.

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State Agriculture Officials Announce Record Conservation Efforts by Farmers in 2009

Annapolis, MD (February 23, 2010) –The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has released its 2009 annual report highlighting the 25th anniversary of the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program in helping Maryland farmers do their part to protect water quality in the streams and rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay.  Funded through a mix of capital resources and user fee-based programs—including the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund, MACS provides grants to farmers who install best management practices (BMPs) on their property to protect natural resources on their property. 
 
According to the report, during its fledgling year in 1984, MACS provided Maryland farmers with $434,000 in grants to install roughly 130 conservation projects on their farms.  Twenty-five years later in 2009, MACS provided Maryland farmers with a record $19 million in conservation grants to install 2,370 capital and special projects on their farms to control soil erosion, manage nutrients and protect water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.  “Farmers who received MACS grants over the last 25 years invested more than $14 million of their own money into these conservation projects and agree to shoulder additional maintenance and upkeep expenses for a minimum of 10 years,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Earl F. Hance.  “Such action on the part of Maryland farmers dispels the notion that conservation takes a back seat—even in tough economic times."    

According to the report, in FY 2009, $10.7 million in MACS grants were used to help Maryland farmers plant 239,000 acres of cover crops statewide.  MACS also helped Maryland poultry farmers transport 52,000 tons of poultry litter out of the Bay Watershed, exceeding the milestone goal by 168 percent.  

To learn more about the progress and accomplishments of the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program and download copy of the 2009 annual report, visit MDA’s web site at www.mda.state.md.us/pdf/macsar09.pdf.

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MARBIDCO Launches Farm Energy Efficiency
“Micro” Loan Fund

Annapolis, MD (October 16, 2009)…….A Rural Business Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan Fund has recently been established by the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) to help farm operations and other resource-based businesses to install equipment or make operational improvements that reduce the consumption of energy. This new “micro” loan program is being offered thanks to important financial support provided by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA). This program is also designed to complement existing farm energy audit and energy efficiency incentive programs being offered by MEA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA) and MARBIDCO, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland RC&D Councils, and the private technical assistance provider EnSave. Click Here for entire Article.

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO

ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 9, 2009)….The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's independent agricultural producers to enter into value-added activities and pursue financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA-VAPG).  The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide funding program with approximately $18 million available for distribution in 2009. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital purposes in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include determining appropriate marketing techniques and creating business plans, or paying operating costs before a business has sufficient cash flow from operations.  Click Here for entire Article.

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MARBIDCO Alters Several Programs in Light of Funding Reductions

Annapolis, MD (September 1, 2009) – As a resulting of the continuing national economic recession and the negative impact that this has had on public sector revenue collections, MARBIDCO has experienced a precipitous decline in State funding since the start of this fiscal year (July 1, 2009). This situation has compelled the MARBIDCO Board of Directors to make several adjustments to various program offerings (effective immediately). Click Here for entire Article.

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MARBIDCO Helps to Grow Local Food & Fiber Commerce
and Sustain Rural Working Lands in Maryland

         
Annapolis, MD (August 2009) - The "Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation" was established by the Maryland General Assembly not long ago to help fill a large void in business development support for the State's farming, forestry and seafood industries. These rural businesses (and related enterprises in urban areas) help sustain local jobs, produce a variety of healthful local foods, and provide important environmental and quality of life benefits for all citizens. MARBIDCO is charged with helping food/fiber producers and processors to make innovations or expand their business operations, exploit new market opportunities, as well as help preserve rural working farm and forest land. In addition, MARBIDCO is particularly focused on assisting the next generation of farmers and producers with getting started in business in a sustainable fashion. The Corporation began operating in April 2007 and today employs a small team of knowledgeable and experienced rural economic development, credit underwriting, and loan servicing personnel.

          In order to effectively undertake its mission, MARBIDCO collaborates with a variety of public and private sector service providers -- from commercial banks and farm credit associations, to county extension agents and USDA officials, to State and county economic development offices and other agencies involved in promoting sustainable agriculture, energy, and natural resources. MARBIDCO essentially functions as a resource hub which is able to create or otherwise take full advantage of leveraging opportunities for dispensing capital and credit, as well as information exchange and referral. During the Corporation’s first two years in operation, it made rural business investments totaling almost $6 million in 70 projects located in 16 counties, and leveraged some $13 million in private commercial lender capital in the process. MARBIDCO has also helped more than a dozen young or beginning farmers buy their first farms or expand their business operations.

          MARBIDCO's programming fall into three broad categories:

Core Rural (and non-rural) Business Development – In this category are several loan and grant financing programs that are funded as a result of the enactment of the landmark Agricultural Stewardship Act of 2006. MARBIDCO's loan and grant programs are tailored to meet key ag, forestry or seafood business investment needs. Loans that are made in this category can typically be used for land purchases, facilities construction or renovation, equipment acquisition or working capital. Loans can range from $10K to $350K, depending on the program, and all are required to be fully collateralized. The Corporation's grant programs have assisted with family farm viability planning, helped producers with partial matching funds for energy efficiency and value added projects, and provided local governments with matching economic development cost share funds.

Rural Land Preservation Facilitation – In this category are programs that are funded from "special funds" (such as agricultural land transfer taxes), or that are offered in conjunction with other agencies with MARBIDCO serving as a conduit financing agent. This includes a new "installment purchase agreements" program that MARBIDCO is offering with the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation to assist with purchasing agricultural land conservation easements. A Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program (a combination young farmer land purchase assistance/land preservation program) is also planned. In addition, MARBIDCO is currently exploring with a county land preservation office the possibility of partially financing its local critical farms program through the use of "Aggie Bonds" (tax exempt private activity bonds).

Higher Risk or Micro-Credit Lending – In this category are loan programs that are funded by partnering organizations for targeted purposes, such as the new Farm Energy Efficiency Loan Program (which is being offered with the support of the Maryland Energy Administration using regional greenhouse gas initiative funds). A shellfish aquaculture loan program is also currently being contemplated to help sustain seafood commerce and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. The loans that are made in this category can be for smaller amounts, and are generally made on an unsecured basis.

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MARBIDCO Launches a New Rural Business Energy Efficiency “Micro” Loan Fund

Annapolis, MD (July 10, 2009) - A Rural Business Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan Fund has been established by MARBIDCO to help agricultural operations and other resource-based businesses to install equipment or make operational improvements that reduce the consumption of energy. This new “micro” loan program is being offered thanks to important financial support provided by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA). This program is also designed to complement an existing farm energy efficiency incentive program being offered by MEA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA) and MARBIDCO, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland RC&D Councils, and the private technical assistance provider EnSave.

“This new micro loan program facilitates the purchase and installation of equipment or technology related to lowering business-related energy consumption by providing timely and below-market-rate financial assistance to agricultural producers and processors,” explains MARBIDCO Executive Director Steve McHenry. “The goal of this program is to help rural businesses to significantly reduce their energy consumption while at the same time helping to increase profitability over the long term.Click here for entire article.  

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New Statewide Energy Efficiency Program for Maryland Agricultural Producers

Richmond, VT (June 22, 2009) - A new program is now available for all agricultural producers in Maryland. The Maryland Statewide Farm Energy Audit Program is funded by the Maryland Energy Administration, and administered by Eastern Shore Resource Conservation & Development Council and EnSave, Inc. Other program partners include USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Rural Development, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Agriculture and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation, Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education, and Washington County Soil Conservation District.

This program will help farmers reduce their energy costs though farm energy audits and equipment incentives for qualifying energy saving projects. Click Here for entire Article.

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 MDA ANNOUNCES NEW SPECIALTY CROP GRANT PROGRAM Application Deadline is July 10

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 29, 2009) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) today announced a new grant program to fund projects that solely enhances the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program was established by the 2008 Farm Bill.

MDA has set up a competitive grant process to award these federal funds in 2009. The Department will be administering funds totaling $500,623 for the development of projects that will benefit Maryland’s existing specialty crop producers. MDA intends to fund projects that can produce the highest degree of measurable benefits to Maryland specialty crop producers in relation to each dollar spent. Grants will be issued from $25,000 to $200,000 per project in Maryland. Click here for entire article.   

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Maryland Value Added Producer Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO

      ANNAPOLIS (May 18, 2009)….The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's independent agricultural producers to enter into value-added activities and pursue financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA-VAPG).  The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide funding program with approximately $18 million available for distribution in 2009. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital purposes in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include determining appropriate marketing techniques and creating business plans, or paying operating costs before a business has sufficient cash flow from operations. 

             MARBIDCO will make available through its Maryland Value Added Producer Grants Program (MVAPG) matching grants of up to 20% of the amount of an USDA-VAPG award to help an eligible applicant meet the non-federal financial matching requirement.  A MVAPG monetary award from MARBIDCO will only be provided to an applicant that is selected to receive USDA-VAPG funding. Click here for entire article.

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GOVERNOR O’MALLEY APPOINTS BUDDY HANCE AS SECRETARY TO THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Roger Richardson Retires After Decades of Service to Maryland Agriculture

ANNAPOLIS, MD (April 28, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the appointment of Deputy Secretary Earl “Buddy” Hance as Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, and thanked Roger Richardson for his dedicated service to the State of Maryland, and his work in the agricultural community.  Roger Richardson, 75, today announced that he would retire to travel and to spend more time with his family. His last day is May 5.

“I want to thank Secretary Richardson for his service to the State of Maryland and to the agricultural community,” said Governor O’Malley.  “Secretary Richardson is a lifelong farmer, has served in numerous capacities in Maryland’s agricultural community, and has been instrumental in working together with the environmental community to help build a sustainable future for Maryland.” Click here for entire article.

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MARBIDCO Performance News

(February 2009) - MARBIDCO was established by the Maryland General Assembly to enhance the sustainability and profitability of the State’s agricultural and resource-based industries in order to help bolster rural economies, develop and sustain locally-produced food and fiber products, and preserve working farm and forest land. By working collaboratively with its public and private sector partners, MARBIDCO is becoming the "go to" place in Maryland to obtain rural business development assistance, including help with accessing capital and credit, business planning information and referral, and rural working lands preservation.  MARBIDCO currently offers five loan programs, four grant programs and a rural land preservation program.  The impact of these programs over the past 18 months has been:

30 Loans Closed (or approved awaiting settlement)

  • $4,545,921 in total loans made.
  • Loan amounts of between $10,000 and $350,000 (average amount: $156,756).
  • Assisting with farm purchases, rural business expansion projects, planting, working capital and equipment purchases.
  • $10,443,760 in commercial and private lender money leveraged (Almost a 3 to 1 leverage ratio of private financing).
  • More than a dozen young or beginning farmers assisted.
  • Loan approvals for qualified borrowers have taken an average of just 19.8 days to process, credit underwrite, and obtain board approval (since February 2008).

38 Targeted Rural Business Grants Awarded

  • $456,151 in total grants awarded (average amount: $13,416).
  • Aimed at farm energy efficiency, farm viability, value-added processing, and supporting county and regional rural economic development efforts.

302 Full- and Part-time Jobs Created or Retained

  • 147 Full-time jobs created or retained.
  • 155 Part -time jobs created or retained.

MARBIDCO sponsored two regional rural business service provider forums in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore recently, with more such events planned for the Baltimore area and Western Maryland. Commercial lenders, county/state/federal agricultural economic development officials, extension agents, and other farm/forestry/seafood service providers are invited to participate.

MARBIDCO is currently working with the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) to bring an Installment Purchase Agreements Program online this winter in order to help farm owners sell agricultural easements in a tax-advantaged fashion. A Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program and a Sustainable Forestry Loan/Conservation Easement Option Purchase Program are also in the works.

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Kilby Selected to be New MARBIDCO Chair

Annapolis, MD (January 2009) - Phyllis E. Kilby was elected by the MARBIDCO Board of Directors recently to serve as Chair of the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation for 2009. MARBIDCO is a publicly supported rural business development organization established by the Maryland General Assembly in 2004 to help agricultural and other rural industries to prosper. Ms. Kilby, who is President of Kilby’s Inc., a family-owned and operated dairy farm and creamery in Cecil County, had served as Vice Chair since 2007. She replaces J. Robert Frazee, President and CEO of MidAtlantic Farm Credit, who had served for the past three years as MARBIDCO’s Founding Chair.

In addition to her extensive agricultural background, Ms. Kilby served two terms as a Cecil County Commissioner. During her tenure as a county commissioner, she served for three years as Chair of the Rural Maryland Council. She also served as a member of the State Task Force on Study the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.

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Working Waterfront Commission Created


Working Waterfront Commission has been meeting for the last year as a result of legislation enacted by the Maryland General Assembly. The purpose of the Commission is to study and make recommendations regarding protecting and preserving Maryland's commercial seafood industry's access to public trust waters. The Commission has a diverse membership including representatives from the seafood harvesting and processing industries as well as State and local government. MARBIDCO Executive Director Steve McHenry was appointed by Governor O’Malley to chair the Commission. For more information about the Commission [click here].

COMMISSION'S FINAL REPORT

Links to Working Waterfront bills:
SB 676
HB 612

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TWO GRANTS SUPPORT EASTON DAIRY FARM

       Easton, MD (October 20, 2008) – For 3 years Eric and Holly Foster, owners of Chapel’s Country Creamery, have been making high quality artisan cheese from their 110 head of dairy cattle located on Chapel Road in Easton.  Today, USDA Rural Development and the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) announced more than $43,000 in grant funds to help the Fosters move into the future with their cheese business and help pave the way for other farmers who want to add value to their raw milk product.  Chapel’s Country Creamery was 1 of 144 grant recipients in 37 states to receive funding this year through a nationally competitive USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program.
        Federal, state, and local officials joined together this morning at the Foster’s farm for the announcement of a $32,500 grant from USDA Rural Development that includes a partial matching grant from MARBIDCO in the amount of $10,833. Click here to read entire article.

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MARBIDCO Announces a New Program: Maryland Vineyard Planting Loan Program

(October 2008) - The Maryland Vineyard Planting Loan Fund has been established by MARBIDCO to help meet the unique financing needs of Maryland’s rural landowners wanting to plant vineyards and develop wineries. Vines typically take 3-4 years to produce their first commercial crop, with additional years to reach full maturity.  This program makes available low-interest loans that relate to the installation of new vineyards, including, the prepping of land for vineyard installation, purchase of vines, vineyard equipment and supplies. A major aim of this program is to increase the acreage of viable commercial vineyards in Maryland. Another important objective of this program is to complement the financial services offered by private commercial lenders by helping to make rural enterprise financing both available and affordable. This program is supported by the Maryland Wineries Association and the Maryland Grape Growers Association. Click Here for more information on the program.

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MARBIDCO Announces: 2008 Value Added Producer Grants

(September 2008) - MARBIDCO congratulates four Maryland agricultural enterprises on being accepted for funding under the nationwide 2008 Value Added Producer Grant Program offered by USDA Rural Development.  In recognition of this achievement, MARBIDCO is pleased to award each of these rural businesses a matching grant amounting to one-third of the federal grant under the Maryland Value Added Producer Grant Program (MVAPG). The USDA grant awards totaled $445,228 in 2008, and these funds are being matched by $148,409 from MARBIDCO. The MVAPG program is funded from resources provided by the State of Maryland thanks to the strong support of the O’Malley Administration and the Maryland General Assembly. Click here to read the entire article.

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Does your business need assistance with working capital and equipment purchases? 

(November 2008) - MARBIDCO offers low-interest loans to qualified food and fiber producers!

The Rural Business Working Capital Loan Fund has been established by MARBIDCO to help meet the unique financing needs of Maryland’s rural businesses including farm, forestry and seafood operations.  This program, working in collaboration with USDA Rural Development and commercial lenders, makes available low-interest loans to qualified applicants for working capital and equipment purchases. The maximum loan amount is $50,000, and a commercial lender must provide a letter of referral.

Call MARBIDCO today to see if this or one of our other
rural business assistance programs can assist you!

MARBIDCO - (410) 267-6807

Click Here to go to the Application

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MDA Seeking Southern Maryland Nominations for Young Farmers Advisory Board

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 10, 2008) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced it is seeking nominations to be appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley for the Young Farmers Advisory Board from Southern Maryland to represent the general public.

Potential candidates must be a Maryland resident under the age of 45 years at the beginning of the three-year appointed term; derive at least 50 percent of his/her personnel income from farming or agricultural activities in the state; and be interested in the preservation and development of agriculture.

The primary function of the Board is to:
1.    Identify and address issues relating to young and beginning farmers in the state and make recommendations to the Maryland Agriculture Commission, and
2.    Communicate to the general public, the Federal government, the State government, and Maryland Agriculture Commission the importance of young and beginning farmers to agriculture in the State.

The 12-member Maryland Young Farmers Advisory Board serves to promote Agriculture as a positive contributor to Maryland’s economy, environment, and scenic landscape; and to make recommendations related to economic development and policy issues that will assist young and beginning farmers, and other related businesses in creating and continuing profitable Agriculture throughout the State.

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Farm and Producer Viability "Grant Assistance" Availability Announced - Application Deadline is September 18

(September 2008) - Member of the farm and rural business community should be advised of the upcoming application deadline for the 2008 Maryland Farm and Producer Viability Program -- Thursday, September 18, 2008. The Farm and Producer Viability Program is designed to improve the financial viability of producers and processors or otherwise assist fledgling rural entrepreneurs through specialized business planning assistance. The aim of the program is to help early stage enterprises with operational and market risk assessment and with enhanced business plan development, after an initial basic business plan has been developed by the business owner.

Rural businesses that are selected to participate in the Viability Program can expect to be ready to improve the economic competitiveness of their agricultural or other rural enterprises and to be better prepared to receive financial assistance from commercial lenders and other providers of capital and credit.  Farmers and other rural business owners participating in this program receive specialized business consulting assistance with the goal of increasing start-up and growth rates, while reducing failure rates, thereby helping to sustain and create jobs in both rural and non-rural areas of Maryland.  The program also strives to increase the profitability of agricultural operations and other resource-based businesses which contributes to the retention of rural working lands across the State.

The Maryland Farm and Producer Viability Program is offered annually, and the business projects selected may be located anywhere in the State of Maryland. A review panel made up of rural business experts will select up to four business projects to receive assistance under this program.  The help offered under this program may ultimately be provided by academic experts, State or local agency professionals, and/or private consultants, as may be appropriate. For more information please [click here].

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SMART GROWTH LISTENING SESSIONS SCHEDULED

(August 2008) - The Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Planning, has scheduled six "Listening Sessions" in September. This is an opportunity for local government officials and interested citizens to share thoughts about growth in Maryland, and specifically about development in and around their communities. Ideas shared at these sessions will help shape the Maryland State Development Plan. Dates and locations are as follows:

  • Tuesday, September 16, 6:30 p.m. at Wicomico High School Auditorium, Salisbury
  • Wednesday, September 17, 6:30 p.m. at Queen Anne's County High School, Centerville
  • Thursday, September 18, 6:30 p.m. at James Blake High School, Silver Spring
  • Tuesday, September 23 6:30 p.m. at Southern Maryland Electrical Cooperative, Hughesville
  • Wednesday, September 24, 6:30 p.m. at Milford Mill Academy, Randallstown
  • Thursday, September 25, 6:30 p.m. at Bridge of Life Church, Hagerstown

For more information, please visit the Maryland Department of Planning website at: www.mdp.state.md.us.

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FIRST LADY O'MALLEY KICKS OFF FARMERS' MARKET WEEK CELEBRATION

ANNAPOLIS, MD (Aug. 3, 2008) - First Lady Katie O'Malley today joined County Executive John R. Leopold and Agriculture Department Secretary Roger Richardson at an event to kick off National and Maryland Farmers' Market Week (Aug. 3-9). Governor O'Malley designated this special week to encourage consumers to support Maryland agriculture and visit a farmers' market in their area.  The Westfield Annapolis Farmers' Market event included entertainment and cooking demonstrations.

"I am proud to officially kick off the National and Maryland Farmers' Market Week," said First Lady Katie O'Malley.  "Buying locally-grown products strengthens our local economies and the health of our environment and our families, and also keeps land open and productive.  Farmers' markets are increasingly popular sources of farm-fresh, locally-grown, nutritious produce in towns across the state and the nation."

Maryland's farmers are now offering their freshest products at farmers' markets across the state.  Every county in Maryland and Baltimore City boasts at least one farmers' market for a total of 84 markets where consumers can buy affordable farm-fresh, locally-grown, healthy produce, plants and baked goods.

"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," said Secretary Richardson.  "They also serve as integral links between urban, suburban and rural communities.  By talking one-on-one with farmers, consumers can learn about fresh produce including preparation and storage tips.  Consumers also develop a bond of trust in the integrity and accountability of our growers." 

The number of farmers' markets in the United States has grown dramatically in recent years, prompting local, regional and national advocates of local farming to designate a week each year to highlight their benefits.  The increased popularity of farmers' markets spurred growth in Maryland from 20 markets in 1991 to 84 markets this year.

"'Buying Locally' will help families eat healthfully with the freshest ingredients, will support local farmers and jobs, and will strengthen our economy," said Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold.

In addition to their economic importance, farmers' markets are popular community meeting places where residents catch up with each other and purchase fresh, nutritious, locally-produced fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and other food products. In Maryland, 69 out of 84 farmers' markets are authorized to participate in WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program so that qualified women, children, and seniors have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut herbs.

For a list of farmers' markets in Maryland, visit www.mda.state.md.us or call 410-841-5770. Share your experiences with shopping at farmers' markets at http://buylocalchallenge/blogspot.com.

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Governor O’Malley Kicks-Off “Buy Local Week,” July 19-27
Challenges all Marylanders to buy and eat local food each day
 
 ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 18, 2008) – With a backdrop of farm-raised foods from Maryland cooked on the grill and enjoyed by guests of Government House, Governor Martin O’Malley challenged all Marylanders to include at least one locally-grown item in their meals each day next week.  Governor O’Malley has designated July 19-27 as “Buy Local Week” in Maryland to raise awareness about the benefits of local farms and food and make the use of fresh, local products more familiar and more frequent to consumers. To kick off the event, several local farmers and “Buy Local” advocates were invited to a traditional Maryland cookout on the front lawn of Government House in Annapolis, with food donated by Maryland farmers, watermen, and companies.
“Maryland farmers produce some of the best fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses available and I ask each Marylander to join us as we try to incorporate at least one local product into our meals each day next week,” said Governor O’Malley.  “Including local, seasonal foods in our meals helps our farmers and is beneficial in so many ways to the health of our families, environment, economy, and food security. Buying local not only means fresher, more nutritious and better-tasting food, it helps to keep farmland open and productive, strengthens our rural economies, and connects us to the source of our food.”
“Local foods are easier to find than ever,” said Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson. “Today, there are no less than 84 farmers’ markets in Maryland. Community supported agriculture farms are thriving, and grocery stores are tapping into the demand for local farm and seafood products while saving transportation costs to bring the most nutritious, great-tasting, fresh food to consumers.  In addition, the number of pick-your-own operations, roadside farm stands, and on-farm markets is growing.”
The Challenge was created last year by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, has grown since into a statewide initiative
In its 2008 Policy Choices Survey, the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that 77 percent of Marylanders are more likely to buy produce that is identified as having been grown by a Maryland farmer.  Forty-four percent say they are willing to pay at least some premium for farm products that would support Maryland farmers. 
To find local products and to learn more about Maryland’s Buy Local Week Challenge, visit www.marylandsbest.net.  Sources of local seafood can be found at www.marylandseafood.org 

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Governor O’Malley Signs Key Rural Land Preservation Funding Bill (SB 662)

On May 22, 2008, Governor Martin O’Malley signed an important piece of rural land preservation legislation into law, with the bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, and a number of leaders from the agricultural community witnessing the event in Annapolis. Senate Bill 662, Agricultural Land Transfer Tax - Rates and Distribution of Revenue, which was passed on the final night of the legislative session, had garnered broad bi-partisan support from legislators across Maryland following a concerted effort by individuals representing several agricultural and young farmers’ organizations, land preservation groups, as well as the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Beginning July 1, 2008, Senate Bill 662 imposes a 25% surcharge on the existing agricultural land transfer tax with all of the new revenues collected going to support State-side rural land preservation efforts. The ag transfer tax is only paid when farmland is taken out of agricultural use, and is typically paid by the buyer/developer. Child lots of 2 acres or less will be exempt. Senate Bill 662 is expected to generate an additional $2-3 million for State agricultural land preservation programs during FY 2009, and in a robust economy the net effect of SB 662 could generate has much as $6 million annually in new rural land preservation funding.

Amendments adopted to SB 662 have the effect the tying the new revenues generated as a result of the surcharge authorized in SB 662 to funding the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program to be offered by MARBIDCO beginning this coming fall. The Next Generation Program is a strategically important program for the long-term viability of agriculture in Maryland, and it was authorized – but not funded – in the landmark Agricultural Stewardship Act of 2006.

Maryland agriculture is nearing a potentially critical juncture. With an aging farmer population and skyrocketing real estate prices due to population increases and development pressure, it appears that much remaining farmland might be in danger of disappearing forever. The Young Farmers Advisory Board and other agricultural industry groups report that a major impediment to the future success of the next generation of farmers is their ability to purchase farmland at affordable prices. A partial solution to this problem is a reasonably well-financed and rapid response-type farmland easement purchase option program to help facilitate the transfer of farmland to a new generation of farmers. This new generation of agriculturalists would, in turn, help support the economies of rural communities, retain the rural working landscape, and sustain a critical mass for the agricultural industry activity in this State. An additional advantage of the Next Generation Program is that it would help permanently preserve considerable agricultural land from future development, thus providing significant open space and water/air quality benefits. As noted above, SB 662 provides important initial funding for the Next Generation Program.

Senate Bill 662 also dedicates $4 million to the MARBIDCO/MALPF Installment Purchase Agreements (IPA) Program with the flexibility for MALPF to be able to use these funds on a “leveraged” basis so that more easement purchases can be made sooner, and at a relatively lower cost. MARBIDCO will act as MALPF’s agent in facilitating the agricultural easement sale transactions through the purchase of U.S Treasury securities. However, there is no requirement that MALPF use these IPA funds in a leveraged fashion. In fact, because the IPA program is relatively new, it is anticipated that during the first couple of years a significant portion of the funds will be used on a “self-funded” basis, in effect acting as a supplement to the existing MARBIDCO/MALPF “self-funded” IPA program.

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USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT INVITES APPLICATIONS FOR BUSINESS LOANS AND GRANTS

(April 2008) - USDA Rural Development has recently invited applications for five programs to support businesses and small minority producers in rural areas.

        The five programs under which applications are being accepted are:

    • Value Added Producer Grants Click for more info
    • Rural Economic Development Loans
    • Rural Business Opportunity Grants
    • Rural Cooperative Development Grants
    • Small Minority Producer Grants

Please visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/nofas/index.html for more information.

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General Assembly Passes Important Ag Land Preservation Funding Bill (SB 662)

(April 2008) - With little time remaining on the last night of the 2008 Maryland General Assembly session, final approval was secured for Senate Bill 662, Agricultural Land Transfer Tax - Rates and Distribution of Revenue, sponsored by Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton. In the end, SB 662 garnered broad bi-partisan support from both urban and rural legislators, but getting this bill over the finish line required the concerted effort of several agricultural organizations, land preservation groups, and, most especially, many young farmers and their advocates around State. The Maryland Department of Agriculture lent its support to this legislative effort too, and Governor Martin O’Malley has already announced that he plans to sign SB 662 into law.

Senate Bill 662, as amended, will impose a 25% surcharge on the existing agricultural land transfer tax with all of the new revenues collected going to support State-side rural land preservation efforts. Child lots of 2 acres or less will be exempt. (The ag transfer tax is only paid when farmland is taken out of agricultural use, and is typically paid by the buyer/developer.) Senate Bill 662 is expected to generate an additional $2-3 million for State agricultural land preservation programs during FY 2009, and in a robust economy the effect of SB 662 could generate has much as $6 million annually in new rural land preservation funding.

Amendments adopted to SB 662 late in the legislative session have the effect the tying the new revenues generated as a result of the surcharge authorized in SB 662 to funding the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program to be offered by MARBIDCO beginning this coming fall. The Next Generation Program is a strategically important program for the long-term viability of agriculture in Maryland, and it was authorized – but not funded – in the Agricultural Stewardship Act of 2006.

Maryland agriculture is nearing a potentially critical juncture. With an aging farmer population and skyrocketing real estate prices due to population increases and development pressure, it appears that much remaining farmland might be in danger of disappearing forever. The Young Farmers Advisory Board and other agricultural industry groups report that a major impediment to the future success of the next generation of farmers is their ability to purchase farmland at affordable prices. A partial solution to this problem is a reasonably well-financed and rapid response-type farmland easement purchase option program to help facilitate the transfer of farmland to a new generation of farmers. This new generation of agriculturalists would, in turn, help support the economies of rural communities, retain the rural working landscape, and sustain a critical mass for the agricultural industry activity in this State. An additional advantage of the Next Generation Program is that it would help permanently preserve considerable agricultural land from future development, thus providing significant open space and water/air quality benefits. As noted above, SB 662 provides important initial funding for the Next Generation Program.

Senate Bill 662 also dedicates $4 million to the MARBIDCO/MALPF Installment Purchase Agreements (IPA) Program with the flexibility for MALPF to be able to use these funds on a “leveraged” basis so that more easement purchases can be made sooner, and at a relatively lower cost. MARBIDCO will act as MALPF’s agent in facilitating the agricultural easement sale transactions through the purchase of U.S Treasury securities. However, there is no requirement that MALPF use these IPA funds in a leveraged fashion. In fact, because the IPA program is relatively new, it is anticipated that during the first couple of years a significant portion of the funds will be used on a “self-funded” basis, in effect acting as a supplement to the existing MARBIDCO/MALPF “self-funded” IPA program.

What are the anticipated benefits of SB 662?  In FY 2009 alone, the Next Generation Program itself will help preserve approximately 400 to 550 additional acres of agricultural land, as well as help 3-4 young farm families acquire their first farms. Over the next ten years, an estimated 50 to 75 young and beginning farmers will be helped in acquiring their first farm properties with just the new resources authorized by SB 662. In addition, MALPF, by working together with the counties and MARBIDCO, will be able to preserve another 1,500 to 2,000 additional acres of farmland next year as a result of SB 662. Finally, the cumulative benefits of SB 662 over time are expected to be very substantial -- both in terms of helping to sustain profitable agriculture in Maryland as well as by helping to preserve important rural working lands for the future benefit of all citizens.

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Working Waterfront Commission Created

(September 2007) A Working Waterfront Commission has recently begun meeting as a result of legislation enacted during the 2007 Session of the Maryland General Assembly. The purpose of the Commission is to study and make recommendations regarding protecting and preserving Maryland's commercial seafood industry's access to public trust waters. The Commission has a diverse membership including representatives from the seafood harvesting and processing industries as well as State and local government. MARBIDCO Executive Director Steve McHenry was appointed by Governor O’Malley to chair the Commission. The next meeting of the Commission will be held on January 16 in Annapolis. For more information about the Commission [click here].

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2007 Farm Drought and Weather Event Recovery Assistance Loan Fund Announced

(September 13, 2007) - 2007 Farm Drought and Weather Event Recovery Assistance Loan Fund has been established by MARBIDCO to provide special assistance to producers and other rural businesses to help manage drought or weather-related lost production and lost income challenges. This program aims to help agricultural businesses maintain viability and recover from production and revenue losses due to the 2007 drought or other weather-related event. Operating loans are available to producers that have suffered significant crop losses, livestock and feed losses, or dairy losses. Applicants may apply for this program to pay all or part of production costs associated with an adverse weather-related event and pay essential family living expenses. Loans of up to $75,000 ($150,000 if land is used as collateral security) are available.

Producers (or rural business owners) must submit appropriate evidence of financial loss due to the 2007 drought or other weather-related event. Applicants should be participating in some type of RMA-supported crop insurance coverage if it is available for a particular commodity, however, final settlement of insurance claims need not be completed prior to making an application. The deadline for all applications to be received is: Saturday, December 15, 2007.

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Gov. O'Malley's FY 2008 Budget Triples Funding to MARBIDCO

(January 30, 2007) – Governor Martin O'Malley renewed his commitment to support Maryland farmers by tripling funding for MARBIDCO and supporting cover crop programs.

“As a state, Maryland must do more to keep our farmers competitive. To that end, I have proposed tripling funding to MARBIDCO to support new farmers and help rural businesses,” said Governor O'Malley.

Read the rest of the release....

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McHenry Appointed First Executive Director

Steve McHenry photo

(December 2006) Stephen R. McHenry, who has led the Rural Maryland Council as its executive director since 1998, has been appointed as the first Executive Director of the newly established Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO). McHenry will assume his new duties on December 1.

MARBIDCO is a publicly-chartered corporation with a primary mission is to provide the specialized financing and business assistance services that Maryland’s farm, forestry, and seafood businesses need to achieve profitability and sustainability now and into the future. A secondary mission of MARBIDCO is to assist the State and county governments with their agricultural and forest land preservation efforts. MARBIDCO is governed by a 17-member Board of Directors.

McHenry was recently selected to serve in this position after a MARBIDCO Board Search Committee conducted an extensive search for its first full-time director. “After conducting a nationwide search and interviewing several candidates, we were unanimous in our decision that Steve McHenry was the best qualified individual to fill this position”, said MARBIDCO Board Chairman Bob Frazee, who is also CEO of MidAtlantic Farm Credit. “He’s respected in government and rural industry circles, and was instrumental in getting the Corporation organized after the General Assembly passed legislation in 2004 authorizing the creation of MARBIDCO.” Read More . . .

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Janet Stiles

MARBIDCO Vice Chair Named Dairy Woman
of the Year

(August 2006) - Janet Shank Stiles, vice chair of MARBIDCO, has been named by the international dairy industry as the Dairy Woman of the Year and will be honored at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, Oct. 3-7.

Janet's 125-acre Shenandoah Jerseys farm breeds top-quality cows, and her 100-head herd usually ranks among the most productive in the country, World Dairy Expo officials said in an August statement announcing the award. Each year at the convention, dairy leaders name a man and woman of the year, an international person of the year and an industry person of the year. Janet was nominated by her sister-in-law, Debra Stiles Callison, who said she exemplifies the dedication, wisdom, business smarts and vision for which honorees are chosen.

Stiles, 51, grew up on a farm and attended the University of Maryland, graduating with a degree in dairy science. Her two children, Jessica, 19, and Bobby, 23, are both pursuing degrees in agriculture.

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Archived Items

Workshops For CSA Operators to Highlight Membership Agreements


MEA Announces 2015 Mathias Grant Program


Beginning Farmer Training



USDA VAPG Extension of Deadline


MEA Announces 2014 Mathias Grant Program


MVAPMG Available from MARBIDCO


Maryland Farm & Harvest Debuts


MARBIDCO Participates in Rural Action Assembly Conference


MVAPG for Capital Assets Now Available


GICA Survey Seeks Input from Farmers


Training Workshops Offered in Cambridge


MARBIDCO Announces MVAPG Recipients


MEA Announces the Kathleen A.P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Effeciency Program


MDA Seeking Nominations for Maryland Agricultural Commission


Poultry Processing and Marketing Group Launching in Central Maryand


MEA Opens Wood Stove Grant Pilot Program


Maryland Value-Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available from MARBIDCO


UMES Small Farm Conference Returns


Maryland Value-Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available from MARBIDCO


USDA Unveils the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Compass


MARBIDCO Announces Recipients for the Maryland Value-Added Producer Grant Program


Buy Local for the Holidays


Maryland Value-Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available From MARBIDCO


Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Streamlined Aquaculture Permitting


Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO


USDA Invites Applications for Value Added Producer Grant to Assist Farmers


Maryland Increases Vineyard Acres 200 Percent in Last Decade Top Grape Growers are Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore and Queen Anne’s Counties


New Toolkit Available for Communities, Farmers, Local Officials
Highlights the Changing Needs of Maryland Agriculture


Maryland Agricultural Marketing Professionals Meet with Their Counterparts from Virginia


Maryland’s Best Promotes Locally-Raised Meats during March More than 130 local farms have meats for sale


MDA Announces New Specialty Crop Grant Program
Application Deadline is May 12


Deputy Agriculture Secretary Announces Value Added Producer Grant Program Changes to Assist Farmers as They Add Value to Products


Training workshops for On-Farm Poultry and Rabbit Processing Certification Workshops to be held in Clear Springs, Annapolis and Cambridge in March


Results of 2010 Maryland Equine Census Announced Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties Lead Inventory, Value and Acreage


Governor O’Malley Re-Opens Aquaculture Financing Loan Program to New Applicants


Governor O'Malley Announces Shellfish Aquaculture Loan Program


MARBIDCO Announces Recipients for the Maryland Value Added Producer Grant Program


DNR To Host Three Shellfish Tagging and Aquaculture Open Houses


Maryland Announces Grant Awardees for Specialty Crops Selected Projects includes Food Safety, Sod, Christmas Trees, and Wine


LEAD Maryland Accepting Fellow Applications


Caroline and Dorchester Farms Receive Grants from USDA and MARBIDCO


You're Invited! Agriculture and Rural Business Forum

Innoviations and Technological Solutions Addressing Challenges Impacting Western Maryland Agri-Businessess


Maryland Department of Agriculture Announces Video Contest for Students: Maryland Farm to School You Tube Video Contest Encourages Students to Think about Locally-Grown Foods


Maryland Value Added Producer Grants for Capital Assets Now Available from MARBIDCO


DNR To Host Four Public Oyster Reguation Hearing


Center for Maryland Agriculture - $10 Million Facility to Serve as Focal Point for Local Agriculture Industry


Celebrate National Dairy Month In June: Milk and Dairy Products Among Maryland's Top Three Agriculture Commodities


USDA Announces Availiability of Compliance Guide for Mobile Slaughter Units


NRCS Announces Initiative to Improve Agricultural Energy Efficiency


MAERDAF 2011 Applications are Currently being Accepted


New On-Farm Processing Guide for Maryland Farmers: "Processing for Profits"


Training for Poultry and Rabbit Certification Farmers Must Attend Seminar to Participate in the New Program


Statement from Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance on New Initiatives and Revised Regulations to Help Farmers with Enviornmental Requirements to Help Farmers with Enironmental Requirements and Storm Clean-up


Governor Martin O'Mally Announces Action for Eastern Shore Poultry Farmers


Snow Disaster Assistiance is Available for Qualifying Farmers


State Agriculture Officials Announce Record Conservation Efforts by Farmers in 2009


Maryland Value Added Producer Grants Now Available from MARBIDCO


MARBIDCO Alters Several Programs In Light of Funding Reductions


MARBIDCO Helps to Grow Local Food & Fiber Commerce and Susain Rural Working Lands in Maryland


MARBIDCO Launches a New Rural Business Energy Efficiency "Micro" Loan Fund


New Statewide Energy Efficiency Program for Maryland Agricultural Producers


MDA Announces New Specialty Crop Grant Program


Maryland Value Added Producer Grants Now Available from MARBIDCO


Governor O'Malley appoints Buddy Hance as Secretary to the Maryland Department of Agriculture: Roger Richardson retires after decades of service to Maryland agriculture


MARBIDCO
Performance News


Kilby Selected to be New MARIBDCO Chair


Working Waterfront Commission Created


Two Grants Support Easton
Dairy Farm


MARBIDCO Announces a New Program: Maryland Vineyard Planting Loan Fund


MARBIDCO Announces: 2008 Value Added Producer Grants


Does your business need assistance with working capital and equipment purchases?


MDA Seeking Southern Maryland Nominations for Young Farmers Advisory Board


Farm and Producer Viability "Grant Assistance" Availability Announced


Smarth Growth Listening Sessions Scheduled


First Lady O'Malley Kicks off Farmers' Week Celebration


Governer O'Mailley Kicks-Off "Buy Local Week," July 19-27


Gov. O'Malley Signs Rural Land Preservation Funding Bill (SB622)


USDA Rural Development invites applications for Business Loans and Grants


General Assembly Passes Ag Land Preservation Funding Bill (SB622)


Working Waterfront Commission Created


2007 Farm Drought and Weather Event Recovery Assistance Loan Fund (December 2006)


Gov. O'Malley's FY2008 Budget triples funding to MARBIDCO


McHenry Named First Director (December 2006)


MARBIDCO Holds Kick-Off Event for Commerical Lenders (December 2006)


MARBIDCO Searches for Executive Director

See Executive Director's Job Description (September 2006)


MARBIDCO Vice Chair Named Dairy Woman of the Year (August 2006)


 

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