The Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture (GICA) met on June 4 to discuss model practices for agricultural leases and the initial results of a survey conducted in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) on the experiences farmers have had with county governments. GICA was formed in 2006 by Executive Order and is a stakeholder group designed to promote the economic viability of agriculture in Maryland. Carroll County Commissioner Robin Frazier is MACo’s representative on GICA.
In response to the survey, GICA heard from 79 farmers in 19 counties and Baltimore City on their perception of county responsiveness to agricultural concerns. The respondents cited land use zoning and permit issues and health permit issues as their two main areas of concern. Based on the survey findings, MDA has conducted an outreach to MACo to discuss the survey findings with county planners and health officers and see if some of the farmers’ concerns can be addressed through a collaborative process. Secretary of Agriculture Earl (Buddy) Hance will be meeting with county planners on June 7.
GICA also heard from a University of Maryland Extension representative, Paul Goeringer, on best practices for agricultural leases. As part of his presentation Mr. Goeringer highlighted the importance of robust agricultural leases in Maryland as almost 1/3 of all farmland in the state is leased. The Extension has also prepared a guidebook on best practices for agricultural leases in Maryland.