Hogan, Bartenfelder unveil new seafood marketing
CAMBRIDGE — On a visit to the Eastern Shore on Monday Feb. 13, Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder stopped by J.M. Clayton crab processing facility to take a tour and unveil the new Maryland’s Best Seafood logo concept
Hogan spoke in support of House Bill 120, which would transfer the seafood and aquaculture marketing responsibilities from the Department of Natural Resources back to the Department of Agriculture.
“We’re going to do everything we can to continue to help the Shore, and particularly our seafood industr y, our watermen and our farmers,” Hogan said. “There’s a reason why there’s a waterman and a farmer on the state seal. We have to remind people of that. Not only is it an important part of our economy, but it’s also a part of our heritage, and it’s critical that we maintain it. ”
Jack Brooks, one of the owners of J.M. Clayton, said he looks forward to working with the Department of Agriculture to market the industry that he and his family have known for such a long time.
“House Bill 120 is a common sense solution that has a consensus of support from the industry and the state,” Bartenfelder said. “Our department’s marketing program has made great strides in supporting and promoting local agriculture products, and I am confident that we can have the same success with the state’s seafood and aquaculture industr y.”
The bill would create new “Maryland’s Best Seafood” branding for locally produced products. The industry would also benefit from established relationships with distributors, restaurants, grocery chains and other institutions, in addition to the department’s experience in promoting products to international buyers through the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA).
Additional funding of $190,000 accompanies the bill, which comes from fees collected on commercial watermen and processing licenses by the Department of Natural Resources. The department will be able to pursue further funding from USDA and other grants to support the new program.
“The governor’s presence here today shows that he understands and he’s taking active steps to help save our industry,” Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley said. “The seafood industry moving under the Department of Agriculture is a very positive step because there is more money available and more attention will be paid to the needs of the small farmer and the waterfarmer. I’m grateful to him and his staff for making that change for the good of not just Cambridge and Dorchester County, but for all watermen everywhere.”
Jackson-Stanley said she is proud that Hogan and Bartenfelder chose to make this announcement in the City of Cambridge.
“This bill is an important step toward recognizing the bond between farmers and watermen,” Hogan said. “As Marylanders, we all know that Maryland is home to the best seafood, and with a strong marketing plan from the Department of Agriculture, Maryland will be open to new markets and opportunities for our watermen.”
The House Environment and Transportation Committee held a hearing on Feb. 8 where the departments of agriculture and natural resources and several industry leaders testified in support of the bill. There was no opposition.
J.M. Clayton is the oldest crab processing facility in world, founded in 1890 and family owned for five generations. It is currently run by brothers Jack, Joe, and Bill Brooks and Jack’s son Clay Brooks.
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Gov. Larry Hogan, center, presents J.M. Clayton Seafood owner Jack Brooks with a proclamation after unveiling the Maryland’s Best Seafood Fresh-Local logo during a tour of the Cambridge business with Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder Monday, Feb. 13.
J.M. Clayton Seafood owner Jack Brooks, right, gives Gov. Larry Hogan and Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley a tour of the business along the Cambridge waterfront Monday, Feb. 13.