State Leaders Look to the Future of Agriculture at #MACoCon

County leaders at the 2023 MACo Summer Conference heard from local, state, and federal leaders on how we can chart Maryland’s agricultural future — from farms and beyond.

From food insecurity and urban blight to climate change-induced crop damage, agriculture presents solutions to major problems facing Marylanders. From Baltimore to Garrett and Worcester to Washington, counties use agriculture as a force multiplier in their communities.

The 2023 MACo Summer Conference general session, “The Future of Ag – It’s More than Farming,” explored how incentivizing good farming practices — urban and rural — exposing youth to agriculture, and curtailing invasive species can feed Maryland, clean up the Bay, and improve the quality of life statewide. 


  • Kevin Atticks, Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture 
  • The Honorable Steuart Pittman, Anne Arundel County Executive 
  • Andrea Franchini, Extension Program Assistant – Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Maryland Extension
  • Adam Ortiz, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 3

Moderator: Lenny Pfeffer, Dorchest County Council and MACo Board Member

The EPA’s Adam Ortiz opened the panel by discussing the regional significance of Maryland’s agricultural industry, federal partnership, and emerging trends. Secretary Atticks complemented Ortiz’s comments with an overview of Maryland’s farms, trending sectors — like agritourism and cannabis — and how the state’s industry fuels economic development.

Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman discussed his county’s work to develop and support a strong suburban agricultural culture and industry and why the “in-between” farms that aren’t quite rural, but aren’t quite urban, are important to community and sustainability. Diving a bit deeper into research and data, University of Maryland’s Andrea Franchini spoke specifically about Maryland’s urban agriculture and the role of local governments in supporting their flourishing.

More about MACo’s Summer Conference: