Maryland Associate of Counties (MACo) Associate Director Les Knapp joined with Department of Agriculture and Maryland Farm Bureau panelists to testify in support of Senate Bill 95 before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on January 27. The bill is sponsored by the Department and allows the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) to enter into partnerships with public and private entities to raise money for the purchase of agricultural preservation easements. In order for a farm to qualify, it must meet certain criteria set by MALPF and have the consent of the county where the farm is located.
Mr. Knapp testified that more State agricultural preservation funding is necessary to both protect farmland and encourage Smart Growth. Citing an unfulfilled $20 million commitment to agricultural funding from the Agricultural Stewardship Act of 2006 and the current economic situation, Mr. Knapp argued that SB 95 would give MALPF the flexibility to seek funding from outside sources and collaboratively work with counties to protect high value farms.
There was no opposition to the bill.