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.
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.
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, email@example.com
Bruce Weaver, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
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/.
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"
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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What's New at MARBIDCO?
MARBIDCO's Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2013 is now Available!
Click Here to View
Two Oyster Aquaculture Loan Programs Available:
Maryland Shellfish Aquaculture Loan
Maryland Remote Setting Shellfish Aquaculture Loan
Farm Energy Efficiency Information
Rural Business Energy Efficiency
Improvements Loan Fund
Click Here for Application
Do you need an Agricultural Energy Management Plan done?
Click Here for Details
Interested in solar, wind or renewable energy, please visit the Maryland Clean Energy Center or the Maryland Energy Administration.
Installment Purchase Agreements for Easement Sellers!
Click Here for Details
See Loan Applications Now Available
Click Here for Details
Train the Trainer Workshop
October 28th : Washington County Extension Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike
October 30th : Wye Research and Education Center 124 Wye Narrows Drive Queenstown, MD 21658
What: Train the Trainer Workshops
When: October 28th and October 30th
Register by October 24th, seats are limited.
To register please contact Hannah Shear via email (email@example.com) or by phone (301-600-3580). Please indicate which session you wish to attend.
Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail is Open for 2014!
The trail is made up of eight dairy farms across the state that produce and sell ice cream directly to the consumer. You can pick up an Ice Cream Trail Passport online at www.marylandsbest.net). Anyone who completes their Ice Cream Trail passport by visiting every stop on the trail and answering a question from each creamery between May 19 and Sept. 15 will have their passport entered into a drawing to be named the 2014 Ice Cream Trail Blazer. The grand prize includes a $50 gift certificate to a favorite creamery; a CD set of the first season of Maryland Public Television’s Maryland Farm and Harvest; a signed copy of “Dishing Up Maryland,” a cookbook by Lucie Snodgrass; and statewide bragging rights!
The 65th Delmarva Chicken Festival will be held June 20 and 21, 2014, at the Queen Anne's County 4-H Park,
Route 18, Centreville, Maryland. The Festival is sponsored by Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI).
2014 Hosts – Queen Anne's County. For additional information, please call 800-878-2449 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Maryland Extension and Washington County Department of Business Development invite you to attend summer workshops, including:
Tuesday, July 1 – Preserving the Perfect Pickle
Thursday, July 31 – Pressure Canning
Wednesday, August 13 – Tomatoes
Wednesday, August 27 – Fruitful Canning
For more information, contact Leslie Hart, Washington County Agricultural Business Development Specialist at email@example.com or 301-432-4782 or Amy Simmons, University of Maryland Extension 301-791-1504 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 4th Annual Family Farm Day is a celebration of all things agriculture, drawing over 2,000 visitors from throughout central Maryland. Family Farm Day The Festival is held at the 149 acre Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park at 1114 Shawan Road in Cockeysville,
Sunday September 22, from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Presented by the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) in partnership with Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation, the University of Maryland Extension. For more information go to http://www.marylandagriculture.org/content/17608
Other Rural Business
News of Note
Lender Requirement for Beginning Farmer Loan Programs
The Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Policy and UME's Beginning Farmer Success program have developed a fact sheet to help beginning farmers understand the various credit sources available in the state of Maryland and the requirements associated with each credit source, such as USDA's Farm Service Agency, a Farm Credit lender, or MARBICO. Click here for the Credit Fact Sheet or here for online information.
Keystone Development Center
Keystone Development Center (a non-profit, cooperative development center), is dedicated to providing technical and research assistance to groups who wish to organize as cooperatives. News and informative articles can be found at http://www.kdc.coop/blog/.
Funding Sources for Agriculture
Check out this list prepared by University of Maryland Extension which was developed to assist farmers and producers locate funding sources and technical assistance for their operations. The list includes funding sources from federal, state and non-profit agencies.
Click Here for Details
Are you looking to start a farm or
The Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center (MREDC) announces new website to assist the agricultural and natural resources community:www.mredc.umd.edu
Click Here for Information
"The Impact of Resource Based Industries on the Maryland Economy"
Prepared by: BEACON, Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University
Click Here to View PDF
2012 USDA Census of Agriculture
Maryland Niche Meats and Poultry Producers Directory
Maryland's niche meats and poultry producers and the Ag Marketing Program of the University of Maryland Extension have joined together to produce the first, "Maryland Niche Meats and Poultry Producers' Directory". The purpose of this directory is to help restaurants, consumers, food brokers, producers, or anyone looking to purchase the freshest, best quality farm-raised meats available directy from Maryland farmers who raise it. Farmers' Market Masters can use the directory to locate and recruit vendors from Maryland's rapidly growing number of farmers' markets.
This directory has been organized by product for ease of aggregating suppliers. Many producers offer multiple products. The list is always growing and expanding, so the latest listings will be available online at:
Click Here to View PDF
Start2Farm and Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program was developed to assist people new to farming or ranching and those who have less than 10 years experience.
Farmers Market Directory
Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans
Annie's Project focuses on many aspects of farm management and is designed to empower women in overall farm decision making. Visit Annie's online at:
The Keystone Development Center's mission is to sustain communities, economies, and resources in rural areas through cooperatively owned businesses. For more information click on www.kdc.coop/welcome.
USDA: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food
Maryland Rural Enterprise
Development Center (MREDC)
Find the Best Local products
from Maryland Farmers: www.marylandsbest.net
Maryland Agriculture Exchange: Buy, Sell and Trade Agricultural products: www.agtrader.org
Find local products in grocery stores, restaurants and farmer's markets: www.localharvest.org
Celebrate local sustainable food and
serve healthy food choices: www.sustainabletable.org