Grow Maryland Summit set for Dec. 1
STEVENSVILLE — The Grow Maryland Summit: The Future of Value-Added Agriculture will be the first of its kind, devoted to the state’s value-added agriculture industry. The conference, hosted by Grow Maryland and the Rural Maryland Council, will take place on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville.
The inaugural event comes on the heels of the Value-Added Agriculture: A Regional Focus report, conducted by Grow & Fortify LLC. The Baltimore-based management firm develops and supports organizations that specialize in value-added agriculture, agri-tourism, craft beverages and other related industries. In 2015, Grow & Fortify launched their non-profit arm, Grow Maryland, after convening a series of listening sessions throughout the state, helping to determine the needs of the industr y.
“Maryland’s agricultural industry is a quintessential driver for the State’s economy,” said Janna Howley, co-director of Grow Maryland. “This event will take a focused look at the challenges and opportunities in value-added agriculture, which is growing as farmers and processors are looking for ways to increase profitability, include new generations into family businesses, and keep agricultural lands in agriculture.”
Simply defined, valueadded agriculture is altering or processing a raw agricultural product in a way to increase its value to the consumer, and in turn, bring more revenue to the farmer, producer, or processor. The driving factors for value-added agriculture are higher returns on investment, opportunity to enter new markets or extend current marketing seasons, and to create greater visibility and business opportunity within the farm operation.
“Ordinarily we would purely look at what is being produced,” said Charlotte Davis, executive director of the Rural Maryland Council. “Where some of us might just see barley, for example, an entrepreneur has a vision for the valueadded product that can be made using barley. This innovative thinking often leads to higher profits than those that could be made by selling the raw product alone.”
The Grow Maryland Summit will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes numerous speakers and panel discussions. Dr. Craig Beyrouty, the Dean of the University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources will welcome attendees. Those interested are encouraged to come and meet Maryland’s robust and diverse value-added agriculture industry, which includes everything from apples, ales, agri-tourism and Angus. The morning will include a panel of experts who will provide an overview of the value-added landscape, including updates on some of the latest industry studies. In the afternoon, breakouts will include tracks on innovation, law & liability, trends, and tourism, as well as starting small, and scaling up.
Organizers hope to attract a diverse audience of farmers, small food businesses, state and county agency representatives, elected officials, and representatives from the aquaculture industry. Tickets are available for $60 each, which includes full access to the conference, lunch and reception.
There will be a unique one-on-one curbside consultation where potential, and current, value-added producers can meet with financiers, licensing agents and other technical consultants, about 15 in total.
For more information, visit growmaryland.org.
Queenstown Veterinary Hospital owner, Dr. Marianne Bailey, center, is joined by Dr. Heather Myers, left; and right, Dr. Janice Tesi, along with hospital staff at the official opening of the new facility on Nov. 15.