Thank a farmer

Record Observer - - OPINION -

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 has de­clared March 19-25 as “Mary­land Agriculture Week.” From the moun­tains of western Mary­land with its dairy farms and hay to cen­tral Mary­land with its green­house and live­stock in­dus­tries to the Eastern Shore’s acres of corn and poul­try – Mary­land truly grows some­thing for ev­ery­one.

“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,” said Ho­gan. “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 Queen Anne’s County, 530 farms, en­com­pass­ing 156,941 acres, yield prod­ucts with a mar­ket value of $166,855,000, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Agriculture’s 2012 Cen­sus of Agriculture. The county is the top pro­ducer of corn and soy­beans in the state.

Visit the Kent Is­land Farm­ers Mar­ket, which is open 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thurs­days year round at Christ Church on Route 8 in Stevensville. In ad­di­tion to sea­sonal fruits and veg­eta­bles, the marker fea­tures eggs, milk, gluten free breads and baked goods, meats, raw milk cheeses, olives and more. The Queen Anne’s County Master Gar­den­ers have a booth where they an­swer ques­tions the sec­ond week of the month.

Visit a win­ery. Tour­ing a win­ery or a vine­yard in the coun­try­side, tast­ing some of Mary­land’s fine wines, and en­joy­ing the com­pany of friends are fun ways to spend a spring­time day. Mary­land has seven wine trails and 62 winer­ies that of­fer more than 400 dif­fer­ent wines. Both Cas­cia Vine­yards in Stevensville and Cassinelli Win­ery and Vine­yards in Church Hill are on the Ch­e­sa­peake Wine Trail. Our county also boasts Til­mon’s Is­land Win­ery in Sudlersville.

Spring is here and now is the time to plan for your gar­dens and lawns. Be sure to get a soil test be­fore fer­til­iz­ing and check out the Univer­sity of Mary­land Ex­ten­sion’s Grow it Eat it web­site. It won’t be long now un­til the road­side stands and pick­y­our-own-pro­duce farms open.

Take a mo­ment this week and thank a farmer.

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