Maryland Celebrates National Agriculture Week - Southern Maryland Headline News

Maryland Celebrates National Agriculture Week

Seven Ways You Can Get Involved With Maryland Agriculture

ANNAPOLIS (March 13, 2010) – Did you know that most of life's necessities - food, fiber, clothing and shelter – start with agriculture? Recognizing that agriculture is one of Maryland’s most important industries, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is celebrating National Agriculture Week March 14-20, 2010. One-third of Maryland’s land is in farms. On those 2 million acres, farmers produce 33.5 million pounds of apples, 1.6 billion pounds of chicken, and 3.5 million tons of peaches among many other food products for citizens to eat.

“Maryland’s agriculture industry is vital to the long-term health of the state’s economy, environment and quality of life. Agriculture week is a great time to recognize the hard work of our farm families and the important role they play in providing a safe and abundant food supply and protecting the environment,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance.

National Agriculture Week provides an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments and uniqueness of agriculture in each area of the State. From the mountains of Western Maryland with its dairy farms, maple syrup and hay, Central Maryland with its greenhouse, fresh market vegetables, livestock and equine industries, to the Eastern Shore’s thousands of acres of corn and soybeans, poultry and nursery businesses. Maryland truly grows something for everyone.

The following list highlights seven ways you can celebrate Maryland Agriculture during National Agriculture Week:

1. Serve a meal with local products. Ask your grocer for local products or visit to learn where you can buy local products near you.

Did you know Maryland has more than 12,800 farms and more than 100 farmers’ markets with at least one in every county and Baltimore City?

2. Plan your garden. Spring is almost here and now is the time to plan for your gardens. Maryland farmers have initiated a homeowner education campaign, “Take it from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay" to help gardeners by offering gardening and backyard conservation tips and online resources. Be sure to get a soil test before fertilizing and check out the University of Maryland Extension’s Grow it Eat it website

Did you know that horticulture is Maryland’s second largest agricultural sector with total gross receipts from nursery and greenhouse crops and landscaping in 2007 totaling $1.96 billion?

3. Sow a vegetable garden and repair lawns with certified seed. Seeds are the foundation of an abundant food garden. Be sure to test your soil quality before applying any fertilizer. Visit for more info.

Did you know that MDA is responsible for ensuring the continued availability of high quality seed to Maryland's seed consumers? Visit  to learn more.

4. Ride a horse. Sixty percent of the horses in Maryland are used for recreational purposes while 40 percent are for racing. Visit to find a riding trail or licensed stable near you. Trail riding operations are listed at

Did you know there are more than 87,000 horses in Maryland and according to the American Horse Council, the Maryland horse industry has an annual economic impact of $1.6 billion?

5. Pack a local lunch for your children. Maryland farmers grow and produce a wide variety of food including fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses and meats for lunches and snacks that are available from farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and community supported agriculture farms (CSAs).

Did you know Maryland has a strong “Farm to School” program to help educate students about where their food comes from, how it is produced, and the benefits of a healthy diet as well as to expand markets for Maryland farmers? Learn more at

6. Visit a winery. Touring a winery or a vineyard in the countryside, tasting some of Maryland’s fine wines, and enjoying the company of friends is a wonderful way to spend a springtime day.

Did you know that Maryland has eight wine trails and 40 wineries that offer more than 300 different wines? Learn more at

7. Sample local seafood. Maryland waters offer an abundant supply of delectable oysters, crabs and many varieties of fish, in addition to the seafood raised by our many aquaculture farmers. Visit to learn where you can buy local seafood.

Did you know there are 68 processing plants employing 1,310 people and over 6,000 watermen who work the Chesapeake Bay?

Find out more about agriculture at the county level by looking at the 2007 Census of Agriculture. Visit to find locally grown products or find out more about National Ag Day at

Facts about Maryland Agriculture:

• Agriculture is the single largest land use in Maryland with two million acres, or roughly one-third of the State’s total land area, used for farms and forests.

• There are 12,850 farms in Maryland with an average size of 160 acres.

• 129 of Maryland’s farms practice organic production.

• Maryland has about 56,000 dairy cows which producer over 1 billion pounds of milk each year. That’s about 20 gallons of milk for each of Maryland’s 5.6 million residents per year.

• Maryland ranks seventh in the nation for broiler chicken production. Broilers lead Maryland’s agricultural farm receipts, bringing in 40 percent or $790 million of the State’s total farm receipts for the year.

• Maryland has the greatest ratio of farmland preserved to total land mass by any state in the nation. The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation program has permanently preserved over 279,000 acres of farmland, with land preserved in each of Maryland’s 23 counties, representing a public investment of over $550 million.

Facts about Agriculture in the United States:

• Agriculture is America’s # 1 Export

• Two out of every three bushels of corn in the world originate in the United States.

• Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation’s wildlife.

• More than three million people farm or ranch in the United States.

• Family partnerships or family corporations operate almost 99 percent of U.S. farms.

• With modern methods, one acre of land in the United States (about the size of a football field) can produce: 42,000 lbs. of strawberries, 11,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs. of cotton lint.

• According the National Farmer’s Union, U.S. farmers receive only 20 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food.

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