Md. Dept. of Agriculture News Briefs

MDA Cover Crop Program Sign-Up Runs June 24 to July 15

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced that open enrollment for its 2013-2014 Cover Crop Program will run June 24 through July 15 at soil conservation district offices (SCDs) statewide. This year, Governor Martin O’Malley has allocated approximately $20 million for the popular conservation program which provides grants to farmers who agree to plant cover crops on their fields in the fall to conserve nutrients, reduce soil erosion, and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Farmers are urged to visit their local SCD office during the three-week sign-up window, as this will be their only opportunity to registers for this year’s program.

“Cover crops are one of the most cost effective things that we can do to keep the nitrogen and the phosphorus out of the waters of this Bay. For the third year in a row, Maryland farmers have planted more than 400,000 acres of protective cover crops on their farms, and this year we’ve exceeded Maryland’s 2013 Chesapeake Bay Milestone commitment by 17 percent,” said Governor O’Malley. “I'd like to thank our farmers for understanding that we’re all in this together and for realizing the importance of balance for the future prosperity of the next generation."

Farmers participating in the 2013-2014 Cover Crop Program may choose from two management options. Traditional cover crops receive a base rate of $45/acre and up to $55/acre in add-on incentives for using highly valued planting practices. Traditional cover crops may not be harvested but can be grazed or chopped for livestock forage for on-farm use after becoming well established. Harvested cover crops qualify for $25/acre with a bonus payment of $10/acre if rye is used as the cover crop. Farmers may fill out one application to enroll in both program options. There are no enrollment caps and certain restrictions apply.

“The cover crop program is a mainstay of Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “This year, the program takes on extra importance. Maryland’s newly revised nutrient management regulations require farmers to plant cover crops when organic nutrient sources are applied to fields in the fall.”

Cover crops are cereal grains and winter annual brassicas (plants in the cabbage family) that are planted to take up nutrients that remain in the soil following the harvest of corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco or vegetables. Barley, canola, rapeseed, kale, rye, rygrass, forage radish, spring oats, triticale and wheat planted in the fall of 2013 are eligible. Farmers may use seed they have saved, however, all seed used is required to meet Maryland Seed Law and Regulatory Standards and have a minimum germination rate of 80 percent.

Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is administered by MDA and the state’s 24 soil conservation districts through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program. It is funded by the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund. Applicants must be in good standing with MACS to participate and must be in compliance with the Nutrient Management Program.

Maryland Agricultural Commission Seeks Nominations to Fill Vacancies

Resumes Due by June 28

The Maryland Agricultural Commission—an advisory body to the Secretary of Agriculture which represents all major commodities in Maryland—is seeking nominations to fill nine positions. As a group, Commission members address legislative and policy issues that affect Maryland agribusiness. The open positions represent: Bio Fuels, Direct Farm Marketing, Vegetable, Poultry, Livestock, Ag Business, Dairy, Viticulture, and Forestry. To be considered, applicants must have experience in the field they are interested in representing. Appointments are made by Governor Martin O’Malley, and each member is eligible to serve two, 3-year appointed terms. The commission meets monthly. To be considered, send a resume and cover letter by June 28 to Rachel Melvin at or at MDA, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401. For more information, call: at 410-841-5882.

Governor O’Malley Appoints New Members to Maryland Agricultural Commission, Young Farmers Advisory Board

Governor Martin O’Malley has appointed six new members to the Maryland Agricultural Commission, an advisory body comprised of representatives from different commodity groups who provide the Agriculture Secretary with information and recommendations on policies and issues facing the agriculture industry. Members serve three-year terms and are eligible to serve two consecutive terms.

There are currently 30 members of the commission, representing: poultry, dairy, livestock, nursery, horticulture, field crops, vegetables, veterinary medicine, Maryland State Grange, Maryland Farm Bureau, at large agriculture services, agri-business, turf, equine, consumers, organic farming, direct farm marketing, viticulture, agriculture education, tobacco, forestry, aquaculture, food processing, biofuels, and agri-tourism as well as the University System of Maryland.

Newly appointed members are:

-- Representing the aquaculture industry: Talmage Petty, owner and operator of Hollywood Oyster Co. in St. Mary’s County. He replaces outgoing member Luke Breza.

-- Representing the nursery industry: Karl Fisher, owner and operator of Wye Nursery, a wholesale evergreen nursery in Caroline County. He replaces outgoing member John Marshall.

-- Representing the nursery industry: Marion Mullan, is the Vice President of Mullan Nursery, Co., Inc in Baltimore County, a 12-acre nursery that grows shade trees and brambles. She replaces outgoing member Jerome R. Faulring.

-- Representing the food processing industry: Matt Cedro, a resident of Garrett County and director of operations for Firefly Farms. He replaces outgoing member Thomas A. Godfrey.

-- Representing the field crops industry: Donald Maring, a third generation grain farmer from Carroll County. He replaces outgoing member Allen Davis.

-- Representing the agritourism industry: Michael Dunn, owner and operator of Montpelier Farms in Prince George’s County. He replaces outgoing member Martha Clark.

For a complete listing of Commission members see:

Governor O’Malley has also appointed five new members to the Young Farmers Advisory Board, which is comprised of representatives from different commodity groups who provide the Agriculture Secretary with information and recommendations on policies and issues facing the agriculture industry. Members serve three-year terms and are eligible to serve two consecutive terms.

There are currently 12 members of the board, representing: poultry, nursery, horticulture, Maryland Department of Natural Resources-Forestry, Maryland Farm Bureau, viticulture, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, field crops, agritourism, urban agriculture, and agribusiness.

The five new members are:

-- Representing the Maryland Farm Bureau and agri-tourism: Nora Crist, a resident of Howard County and manager of Clark's Farm, which sells 100% grass fed beef, pastured pork, and eggs and grows the vegetables for the roadside produce stand. She also manages the petting farm portion of the agri-tourism business, Clark's Elioak Farm.

-- Representing the nursery industry: Jessica Todd, president of Clear Ridge Nursery, Inc. in Carroll County, a wholesale nursery that specializes in native trees and shrubs for conservation, reforestation, and mitigation projects.

-- Representing the urban agriculture industry: Riyaz Gayasaddin, a resident of Baltimore City who helps run Green Street Academy, a farm at a local school in Baltimore City.

-- Representing the urban agriculture industry: Tyler Brown, a resident of Baltimore City and manager of Real Food Farm, an urban agricultural enterprise engaged in growing fresh produce on six acres of land in Clifton Park in northeast Baltimore.

-- Representing the horticulture industry: Matt Harsh, co-owner and operator of Chesley Vegetable Farms, a 45-acre fruit and vegetable farm in Washington County.

For a complete listing of Young Farmers Advisory Board members, see:

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