Thank a farmer

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Most of life’s ne­ces­si­ties — food, cloth­ing and shel­ter — start with agri­cul­ture. March 21 was Na­tional Agri­cul­ture Day, which rec­og­nizes and cel­e­brates the con­tri­bu­tions of agri­cul­ture to Amer­i­can so­ci­ety. To co­in­cide with this na­tional cel­e­bra­tion, Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) de­clared last week, March 19-25, as “Mary­land Agri­cul­ture Week.”

From the moun­tains of west­ern Mary­land with its dairy farms and hay to cen­tral Mary­land with its green­houses and live­stock in­dus­tries, to the Eastern Shore’s acres of corn, grain, soy­beans, veg­eta­bles and poul­try — and to the wide va­ri­ety of pro­duce and live­stock grown right here at home in South­ern Mary­land — this state truly grows some­thing for ever yone.

“Mary­land’s vi­brant agri­cul­tural in­dus­try is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of our state’s econ­omy, and our farm­ers go above and be­yond to pro­vide fresh, qual­ity food that is ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able, and safe for our cit­i­zens,” Ho­gan said. “I en­cour­age all Mary­lan­ders to take a mo­ment to rec­og­nize and cel­e­brate our farm­ers and the es­sen­tial role they have in our daily lives.”

There are 2.1 mil­lion farms in the United States, a coun­try with nearly 319 mil­lion peo­ple. Agri­cul­ture prod­ucts re­main the na­tion’s top ex­port. Each Amer­i­can farmer to­day feeds more than 155 peo­ple — a dra­matic in­crease from 25 peo­ple in the 1960s. Amer­i­can agri­cul­ture is do­ing more — and do­ing it bet­ter.

“For the av­er­age per­son, it is some­times easy to for­get just how im­por­tant agri­cul­ture is to their daily life,” said Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Joe Barten­felder. “Mary­land Agri­cul­ture Week is the per­fect oc­ca­sion for all Mary­lan­ders to re­flect on the im­por­tant work that our farm­ers do each day.”

In Mary­land, one-third of the land mass — over 2 mil­lion acres — is farm­land. In 2015, the top com­mod­ity sec­tors were poul­try (broil­ers), green­house and nurs­ery, corn and dairy.

In Charles County, 382 farms, en­com­pass­ing 46,659 acres, yielded prod­ucts with a mar­ket value of $11.9 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s 2012 Cen­sus of Agri­cul­ture. The ma­jor­ity of that mar­ket value was from crop sales, with $1.2 mil­lion from live­stock sales.

While the num­ber of farms in Charles has de­creased slightly since the 2007 cen­sus, the amount of farm­land is up by a few thou­sand acres, and the mar­ket value of Charles’ agri­cul­tural prod­ucts is up by $3.05 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

We know our farm­ers are hard­work­ing here, and every year from spring through fall we ap­pre­ci­ate the fruits of their labors at farm­ers mar­kets and farm stands up and down county. Slightly more than half of the prin­ci­pal op­er­a­tors of the county’s farms have an­other pri­mary oc­cu­pa­tion, which means the pro­duce sold at th­ese mar­kets and stands are forged by their grow­ers on the side — a la­bo­ri­ous sec­ond job.

Take a mo­ment to learn more about where your home­grown food comes from, and thank a farmer.

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