Local Food Producers Gather to Address Business Challenges

Event featured discussions on current issues relating to Southern Maryland’s agri-biz and oystermen community

SOLOMONS, Md. (March 13, 2011) — Last Tuesday, local farmers, growers, oystermen and agricultural professionals from across Southern Maryland met with researchers from the USDA Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS) and University of Maryland to discuss issues affecting the region's shellfish and agri-business communities, and how those challenges can be addressed through technology and innovation. Hosted by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and the USDA-ARS, attendees of the Southern Maryland Agriculture, Shellfish and Business Innovation Forum learned about the newest commercially available technologies to improve their farm and oyster operations, as well as how to receive funding to actually implement these solutions.

“Maryland must capitalize on technology that can be used to spur economic growth,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Southern Maryland’s vibrant population of farmers, growers, and oystermen has tremendous potential. TEDCO’s forum is a proactive step in bringing the necessary tools and resources this community needs to have a successful and profitable future.”

Highlights of the forum included opening remarks from Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary, Buddy Hance, as well as a networking luncheon that allowed attendees to speak one-on-one with scientists from the USDA-ARS and the University System of Maryland. The luncheon featured presentations and case studies on how members of the agri-biz and shellfish communities can utilize funding sources to bring innovation to Southern Maryland.

“While Southern Maryland farmers and oystermen have diversified their businesses significantly over the past decade or more, they continually seek information about new methods and technologies to improve market share and increase profitability,” said Secretary Buddy Hance. “Today’s innovation forum allowed local farmers, growers and oystermen to learn more about new tools and funding opportunities that can put their businesses at the forefront of a new, innovative economy.”

During the one-day event, participants learned about new commercial technologies designed to improve farm and shellfish operations. The group also learned how to work with USDA-ARS scientists on ways to effectively utilize the University of Maryland Agriculture Extension to stimulate business growth.

“TEDCO is proud to host this shellfish business and agricultural innovation forum for Southern Marylander farmers and oystermen,” said Rob Rosenbaum, president and executive director of TEDCO. “Our goal is to focus on the opportunity to improve agricultural and aquaculture performance in this region, as well as the role technology and innovation play in raising the income of Southern Maryland farmers and oystermen.”

The Forum was funded from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s funding should not be construed as an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. All SBA-funded projects are extended to the public on nondiscriminatory basis. Additionally, this forum represents one of several that have taken place across the State of Maryland as a response to the great need for technology innovation solutions in the state’s agricultural community.

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), an independent entity, was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1998 to facilitate the creation of businesses and foster their growth in all regions of the State. TEDCO’s role is to be Maryland’s leading source of funding for seed capital and entrepreneurial business assistance for the development, transfer and commercialization of technology. TEDCO connects emerging technology companies with federal laboratories, research universities, business incubators and specialized technical assistance. For the fourth consecutive year, TEDCO was recognized as the most active early/seed stage investor in the nation in the July 2007 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. For more information on TEDCO and its programs and resources, visit www.MarylandTEDCO.org.

Source: TEDCO

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