St. Mary’s County Commissioners Endorse Regional Ag Park Proposal

A May 8 Bay Net article reported that St. Mary’s County Commissioners have heard and endorsed a proposal to create a regional agriculture park in Southern Maryland. The proposed Southern Maryland Agricultural Business Park and Food Innovation Center would be a centrally-located facility and include centers for new farmer incubation, food distribution, start-up food innovators, regional meat processing, aquaculture processing, equipment storage, indoor and outdoor farm markets, and a café and deli. From the article:

According to Southern Maryland Agriculture Development Commission (SMADC) Executive Director Dr. Christine Bergmark, proposals would be solicited shortly for expression of interest in the project including a site for the new facility, which would be funded through tobacco restitution monies, federal funding and foundations. There would be local tax monies used to pay for the land and facility. …

Bergmark and SMADC member Eddie Bowling of Charles County made the presentation to the commissioners, who decided to sign a letter endorsing the idea. Commissioners from the other four counties covered by SMADC, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel have also been asked to endorse it. …

A bill passed during the recent session of the Maryland General Assembly, Senate Bill 909, gives the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland authority to use specified monies to purchase land for the proposed facility. That bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. The SMADC comes under the authority of the Tri-County Council.

Dr. Bergmark told the commissioners she optimistically hopes to have a site identified in the fall and completion of the facility by next summer. She said the proposal is a sustainable model. “We see this as an opportunity, a way to build long-term infrastructure,” she said.

The article also noted that some of the St. Mary’s Commissioners wanted the facility located in an area convenient to St. Mary’s farmers, such as the border between Charles and St. Mary’s Counties.