State Announces COVID-19 Relief for Agriculture and Seafood Producers

Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the Maryland Departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Natural Resources (DNR) have now provided more than $9 million in COVID-19 relief funding to farmers, watermen, and producers. These funds are part of the more than $600 million in emergency economic relief that the state has announced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented hardship for so many, and while Maryland’s farmers and producers are certainly no exception,…

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Top Issues of 2021 Session: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

With the 2021 Legislative Session rapidly approaching, MACo is profiling some major issues that stand to gather attention in the General Assembly’s work. Here, we preview the state of the Chesapeake Bay. Protecting the Chesapeake Bay is almost always at the forefront of environmental policy agendas going into the General Assembly Session, and 2021 will likely be no different. Efforts to restore and preserve the Bay are shaped by a variety of factors, including federal…

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Register For NACo’s Dec 20 Large Urban / Rural Counties Virtual Symposium

NACo will host a joint event for two of its most active caucuses, the Rural Action Caucus, and the Large Urban Counties Caucus - together during the afternoon of December 20. The National Association of Counties, ever working to reach its member jurisdictions, has assembled a half day of content to bridge the interests of two of its most active sub-groups, those representing the largest urban members, and its most sparsely-populated rural members. The December…

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Ag Preservation and Program Open Space: State Agencies Brief Committee

Today, the Joint Subcommittee on Program Open Space and Agricultural Land Preservation was briefed by State agencies on a variety of land use topics.  Representatives from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), and the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) were on hand to provide updates. The presentations focused on the status of land acquisition and preservation, as well as the impacts of the pandemic on agriculture and parks. MDA…

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State Soil Conservation Committee to Meet November 19

The State Soil Conservation Committee will meet Thursday, November 19 at 9:30 a.m. via conference call. The State Soil Conservation Committee provides guidance to the Maryland Department of Agriculture on issues such as soil conservation and water quality policy. The Committee is made up of members from various state departments and regional representatives. The Committee’s upcoming meeting is open to the public and will focus on soil conservation and water quality program implementation and policy…

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MDA Expands Hemp Program to Commercial Growers

Last week, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that they have adopted new regulations to expand the State’s hemp program. Building upon a successful pilot program for industrial hemp growth, MDA has approved regulations that establish the Hemp Farming Program which will allow growers to produce hemp for commercial purposes. The move builds upon the 2018 US Farm Bill establishing industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. From the press release: “Hemp is an emerging…

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DNR Releases Forest Action Plan, Seeks Comments

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released part one of the State Forest Action Plan in draft form and is seeking comments until Nov. 16. The Action Plan outlines important issues for the Maryland Forest Service, and is comprised of three parts: Statewide Forest Assessment, 5-Year Strategy, and Maryland’s Assessment of Need for its Forest Legacy Program for conserving working forests. The report notes important details including that Maryland currently has 39 percent forest…

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State Launches $10 Million Farmer COVID Relief Program

Earlier this week, Governor Larry Hogan announced a new program that will provide direct payments to farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The State's $10 million initiative will provide assistance to contract poultry growers and eligible farmers. Currently, contract poultry growers are not receiving funds from the USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), leaving the state's top agriculture commodity without significant financial support. Under the new Maryland program, poultry growers are able to receive direct…

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Congressional Reps Announce $50k for Western MD Ag Processing Study

Today, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen along with Congressman David Trone announced $50,000 in funding for the Western Maryland Resources Conservation & Development Council to establish a feasibility study on the industrial hemp processing industry. Funding for the study comes from the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development partnership between federal agencies and 13 state governments. Their mission is to encourage community capacity and economic growth in the region. The study will examine…

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Rural Maryland Council Accepting Nominations for Rural Impact Awards

The Rural Maryland Council (RMC) is now accepting nominations for the 2020 Maryland Rural Impact Awards. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have performed extraordinary acts of service to communities throughout rural Maryland. RMC will present several different awards at their annual Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Submissions are due Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Award categories include: Rural Community Volunteer Rural Champion Outstanding Rural Economic Development Outstanding Rural Community Development For…

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