Fast-forward 14 years, and you see the outcomes from the quote above happening in Southern Maryland. The region has diversified and strengthened after tobacco. Today you see farmers trying new crops in our region, such as growing wine grapes and organic vegetables, and doing it on land that has been permanently preserved for agricultural use.
The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was signed into law in 1998. Prior to the agreement, going back 350 years, Maryland farmers relied on the cash crop to be their driving source of income. Tobacco was what they knew how to grow, and it grew well in our soils. A three-pronged approach was laid out by the Governors Tobacco Crop Conversion Task Force:
Transition Maryland farmers out of tobacco production into more profitable and life-sustaining crops, while preserving rural agriculture in Southern Maryland.
Three priorities were outlined:1) buyout and transition; 2) land preservation and 3) infrastructure development.
The outcomes of those priorities can be found in a recent report, by freelance writer Jamie Tiralla. Jamie worked with SMADC to develop a report about the Buyout and the impact ag preservation has had on the region.
The report is titled, “Impact of SMADC’s Agricultural Preservation Programs”, and you can read it here (PDF).