Har­ris tours Kent and Queen Anne’s farms

Record Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By DORIAN MITCHELL dmitchell@thekent­coun­tynews.com

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.

PHOTO BY DORIAN MITCHELL

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.

PHOTO BY DORIAN MITCHELL

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.

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