HUGHESVILLE, Md. (February 17, 2011) New conservation tillage equipment and specialty farm implements are now available to farmers throughout the Southern Maryland region, due to grants from the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC).
SMADC worked with each county to develop a list of needs, with particular emphasis given to equipment that promotes long term environmental benefits to the Chesapeake Bay and/or supports new and emerging enterprises such as grape growing and produce. Based on each county's priorities, SMADC awarded $248,997 to the Soil Conservation Districts of Calvert, Charles, Prince George's, and St. Mary's counties, and to the St. Mary's County Farm Bureau to purchase the equipment.
"The equipment rental program is set up to help the small farmer (in Southern Maryland) to be able to install conservation practices on their land", said William Clark district manager for Calvert Soil Conservation District. "It is not cost-effective for small farming operations to purchase no-till planters which can cost from $25,000 to $30,000; through the rental programs of the Southern Maryland Soil Conservation Districts and some Farm Bureaus, farmers are able to apply best management practices which will help improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay", Clark added.
"Farm equipment can be very expensive and inhibiting for farmers, especially new farmers or farmers trying new things", said Christine Bergmark, SMADC Executive Director. "All the SMADC programs have focused on providing support, training and guidance to farmers that are diversifying their products and moving toward a market-driven business model. In addition to helping individual farms transition away from tobacco, SMADC has supported research and marketing to help shape emerging new industries, such as wine, that are likely to be profitable in the region. Thanks to the Southern Maryland Delegation, we are now able to help reduce farmers' costs on the ground, and help the State meets its environmental goals for saving the Bay."
SMADC has compiled the first-ever complete inventory of new and existing equipment available throughout the five Southern Maryland counties hosted at
www.smadc.com. The inventory details the contact information for the managing entities responsible for the storage and maintenance of the equipment and a brief description of the equipment specifications, appropriate uses, and current rental rates.
County agencies are planning training days to demonstrate the operation of the rental equipment in the upcoming weeks. Visit
www.smadc.com for schedules and equipment updates or call the local agency listed on the website.