Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks, along with key staff from the agency, recently visited Cecil County to listen and learn about agriculture in the Eastern Shore’s northernmost county.
“Cecil County agriculture perfectly represents what a thriving agricultural community looks like,” said Secretary Atticks. “Seeing first hand the many ways that farmers and community members are integrating their life and products into the local economy was remarkable.”
The full day tour kicked off with a farmer roundtable held at the Cecil County Farm Museum, during which local farmers and agriculture community members discussed the diversity of Cecil County agriculture and ways the state can work in partnership with the large and small farm operations throughout the County.
“If Maryland is America in miniature, Cecil County is Maryland in miniature,” said Maryland Farm Bureau President and Cecil County farm owner Wayne Stafford. “Cecil County agriculture is probably the most diverse in the state.”
Following the roundtable, the group then traveled to Stafford Angus, a multi generational family-owned farm that has been in operation since 1898. During the visit, owner/operator Jeff Stafford discussed how the Covid-19 pandemic transformed their small on-farm market into a bustling stop for locals to pick up freshly sourced meats, eggs, local cheeses and handmade goods.
The next stop was a visit to Ag Industrial, a commercial and residential agricultural equipment dealer and service provider. Built in 1976, the business has expanded to three additional locations in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
A short drive then found the group at Gavinell Meat Company, a family owned, full service butchering operation. One of two USDA federally inspected plants on the eastern shore, Gavinell owners Jen and Dan McGrath explained the consumer assurance a USDA inspection provides. Dan also explained what it takes to keep the shop open and discussed several innovative safety measures he has put in place. Samples of their products were also offered, including their famous Crab Cake Links.
Following a homemade lunch at Principio Furnace Foundation, the tour concluded at Warwick Mushroom Farm. Warwick Mushroom Farm is the largest single-site mushroom growing operation in the western hemisphere and employs more than 300 people. During the visit, Secretary Atticks was taken through the mushroom growing process.
“It was an honor to welcome Secretary Atticks to Cecil County and showcase our thriving agricultural community,” said Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger. “We look forward to hosting the secretary and his team again soon.”