Grow Mary­land Sum­mit set for Dec. 1

Record Observer - - Business -

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.

HAN­NAH COMBS

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.

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