Harris tours Kent and Queen Anne’s farms
CHESTERTOWN — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris learned about agriculture practices and spoke with farmers about their concerns during a visit to Kent and Queen Anne’s counties Thursday, April 20.
Harris, R-Md.-1st, and local officials first met at Hambleton Creek Farms outside of Chestertown along state Route 213. Indivisible of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties members stood outside the road’s turnoff with protest signs like “No Town Halls.”
Farmer Sam Owings, owner of High Impact Environmental Inc., gave Harris’ tour group a hay ride through parts of the farm’s
400 acres, explaining several “no-till” practices, such as the cascading system and chain filtering.
“Around the perimeter of a field, along the edges of a stream ... or even right along the Chesapeake Bay would be the perfect place to put something like this,” Owings said as he explained how useful filter strips can be for stormwater management.
He showed the group a large drainage area for stormwater, where it and any harmful nutrients can be contained and recycled.
“The basic concept is to reduce stormwater flows, keep stormwater on the land and do something positive with it rather than just let it flow into state waters and pollute them,” Owings said. “I see this as a more aggressive approach.”
Harris said the practices, though temporary, were practical and could be implemented by any farm with a high enough elevation.
“I wonder why the state isn’t more interested in this,” he said.
Owings also discussed how his farm’s practices could help reduce the Maryland Department of the Environment’s proposed Watershed Implementation Plan’s 10-year budget, which is estimated to be $14.4 billion.
“Eighty percent of the focus is on 20 percent of the problem,” he told Harris, as he presented data collected from a two-year local drainage analysis project conducted by Earth Data Inc. and the University of Mar yland.
Harris’ next stop was Grand View Farm in Kennedyville, home of Langenfelder Pork. There, he met with Pat Langenfelder and her family and heard about their business.
She said her concerns were with proposed cuts to the federal budget that would adversely affect both state and local agricultural programs.
“It’s totally preliminary,” Harris said. “It’s the president’s budget ... but it’s Congress’ job to appropriate. I don’t want to see any entity hurt in the poultry and agricultural industries. ... Don’t worry about the possibility of huge budget cuts.”
Harris, Langenfelder and Janet Christensen-Lewis — the latter two both board members of the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance — also discussed the impact that large energy projects, like wind or solar farms, can have on a rural area.
“It’s low-hanging fruit, farmland is, to put solar projects on, because you don’t need to really do anything. You put it down, wire it together and you’re good to go,” Harris said. “But that land will never come back agriculture-wise.”
He also said those companies behind the projects should be responsible for the transmission’s effect on the local energy grid, not the rate-payers.
“There’s no extra benefit to that extra energy at all,” Harris said.
After learning more about Langenfelder Pork, he said his office will do what it can to help local farmers and their operations.
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris listens as farmer Sam Owings, right, talks about his farm’s no-till cascade system during a Thursday, April 20, tour of Hambleton Creek Farms outside of Chestertown. From left are Del. Jay Jacobs, state Sen. Steve Hershey, Harris, Earth Data Inc. President Mark Williams, Republicans of Kent County board member Dawn Jacobs and Owings.
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, center, and Pat Langenfelder of Grand View Farm, left, both point toward a fertilizer storage building as Kristen Nickerson, right, explains the farm’s practices during a Thursday, April 20, tour of Langenfelder Pork in Kennedyville.