Coming Soon: Regional Agriculture Center (RAC)
The following article is an excerpt of the Press Release from St. Mary's...
St. Mary’s County was awarded a $1 million grant from the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission to develop a regional agriculture center. The RAC complex will be located in St. Mary’s County in the town of Charlotte Hall, close to an existing transfer station site. The facility will be a public/private partnership providing a set of complementary services with the capability of adding value and profitability to products from Southern Maryland farmers.
RAC in the News
January 7, 2022 – The Delmarva Farmer, Funds for regional agricultural center authorized
May 19, 2020 – Civil Eats, As COVID-19 Disrupts the Industrial Meat System, Independent Processors Have a Moment to Shine
March 10, 2020 – Southern Maryland News Net, Senator Jack Bailey Announces Additional State Funding for St. Mary’s County Projects
May 17, 2019 – Lancaster Farming, Southern Maryland Meats: It’s What’s for Dinner
May 3, 2019 – American Farm Publications, SMADC issues $1 million grant to build ag center, meat facility
“The RAC will encourage small business agricultural development, strengthen the region’s farm community, create jobs, and keep money in the local neighborhood. We are very excited to see it come to fruition after years of hard work by many individuals, and look forward to celebrating its future success for the farmers in the community.”
About the Southern Maryland Regional Agriculture Center (RAC) and Meat Processing Facility
The RAC’s Mission is to support local producers working with local processors to sell to local consumers.
RAC = Instruction, Incubation, Aggregation, Entrepreneurship, Market Access
The Southern Maryland RAC is a dynamic and multi-faceted model for regional economic development and is the vehicle to allow an unprecedented expansion of markets accessible to Southern Maryland producers. It is a production facility, an instructional facility, and an incubator, built to serve the farming community and their customers.
The RAC will aggregate meats and produce for volume and institutional sales, instruct budding entrepreneurs on regulatory issues, empower meat industry apprenticeships, and even teach children and adults how to cook. The RAC will take Southern Maryland agriculture to the next level by opening new markets and strengthening existing ones; it will be an agricultural and economic engine for Southern Maryland.
The RAC service priorities are:
- A Regional Butcher Shop/Cut and Wrap Facility
- A Finer Meats Processing Facility
- Creating a Southern Maryland Meats Charcuterie Brand
- Apprenticeship Programs and Job Training
- A Meat Locker and Cold Storage Facility
- A Warehouse and Distribution Site
- A Commercial Kitchen
- An Instructional Kitchen Classroom
- A Regional Farmer’s Market
- A Retail Store
- Product Storage Facility
Why does Southern Maryland need the RAC?
If you raise beef, pork, goat, or sheep in Southern Maryland and want to sell the meat retail through farmer’s markets or directly from your farm, your livestock must be slaughtered and processed under USDA inspection.
For more than 11 years SMADC-funded freezer trailers have helped regional meat producers to haul their meats back to their farms from processors in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the Eastern Shore, and northern Baltimore County. Why? Because currently there are no USDA-inspected facilities in Southern Maryland. The closest USDA processors are hours away; farmers must take valuable time off the farm to transport their animals and return to retrieve their finished products. It is a difficult and inefficient arrangement that adds time and cost to the farmer, and stress to the animals. Localized meat processing is the answer: Local producers working with local processors to sell to local consumers.
If you are a food entrepreneur attempting to introduce a new food product to the local food chain, the lack of regionally located certified commercial kitchens and the ever-increasing burden of regulations are hurdles that you must navigate before you can make, sell and market your product. The RAC will provide future business people with the certified kitchen space, and regulatory instruction required to manufacture, launch and retail their products.
How is the Southern Maryland Regional Agricultural Center funded?
The RAC is funded by a $1.5 million grant from SMADC; the publicly offered grant was awarded to St. Mary’s County Government, which has made a financial commitment to construct the RAC and to provide the land on which it will be built. SMADC is also pursuing grants and contributions to enhance the RAC’s offerings.
The RAC was also awarded $200,000 in funding from Governor Hogan’s budget to specifically fund an area to be used for space dedicated to cold storage, aggregation, and distribution, (SMADC is grateful to Senator Jack Bailey for his assistance in bringing this portion of the funding to this important project). An additional $28,400 MAERDF grant was generously given to purchase audio/visual equipment for the instructional kitchen. At this time, SMADC’s financial commitment to the RAC project is $1.7 million.
Where will the RAC be located?
The RAC will be located in St. Mary’s County at the Northeast intersection of Route 5 and Route 6 in Charlotte Hall, sharing the location with the existing transfer station.
Who is going to operate the RAC?
SMADC will operate the RAC under a property management contract with St. Mary’s County. The building and permanent fixtures on the building will be owned and maintained by St. Mary’s County. Equipment for food processing will be owned and maintained by SMADC.
The RAC is designed as an entrepreneurial venture that should be self-sustaining with 3-4 years. It is estimated that at full capacity the RAC will employ 17 people with a living wage. Persons working at the RAC may be SMADC employees, or the employees of contractor(s) who would lease certain operations at the RAC.
When is the RAC to open its doors?
The RAC site design plan RFP has been awarded, and is the process of finalization. It is estimated that the RAC will be breaking ground in Spring 2022, with an estimated opening date in the 4th Quarter of 2022.
LIST OF USDA PROCESSING FACILITIES IN THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania.) Facilities listed are within 150 miles of Hughesville, MD. This list was compiled by SOUTHERN MARYLAND MEATS (a program of SMADC).
SLAUGHTERHOUSE AND PROCESSING FACILITIES DATA: FSIS MEAT, POULTRY AND EGG PRODUCT INSPECTION DIRECTORY – Facilities Data supplied by FSIS, current as of July 8, 2013. Livestock Inventory: 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture. Cartography provided by Maryland Department of Planning Geospatial & Data Analysis Unit.
2012 MARYLAND AGRICULTURAL CENSUS – CATTLE, CALVES, GOATS, SHEEP, HOGS – Data compiled by county and species, from the 2012 U. S. Census of Agriculture.
November 2020: St. Mary’s Dept. of Public Works have finalized the RAC building floor plans; a bid package for construction is anticipated soon.
October 2020: On October 8, 2020, the SMADC Board voted to allocate an additional $500,000 for site preparation plans, not originally included in the estimate.
September 2020: MAERDF grant award received for a total of $28,400 for the RAC’s instructional kitchen A/V component (overhead plasma screens, production software, cameras to highlight instructions).
August 2020: SMADC, with assistance from Senator Jack Bailey, was successful in obtaining a state grant with capital funds for $200,000 for the RAC to specifically fund an area dedicated to cold storage, aggregation, and distribution of produce.
July 2020: SMADC successfully submitted Applications for three grants (USDA and MAERDAF) for additional RAC funding (25% matching funds applicable); grant awards are to be announced in September for October 2020 funding.
May 2020: RAC site preparation planning and construction on the RAC are delayed due to the national COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
January 2020: RAC floor plans are approaching finalization and approval, following several meetings and revisions. SMADC Director, Shelby Watson-Hampton, was informed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that the RAC is included in the Governor’s Capitol Budget for Miscellaneous Projects in the amount of $200,000 for additional cold storage. Staff is providing information to DBM to justify this line item and will be ready to testify if needed.
December 2019: Smucker’s Meat processing has been engaged to consult on meat processing infrastructure for the RAC, and with the St. Mary’s County planner will advise on the RAC floor plan. Additional research and development resources for the RAC floorplan and equipment include Iowa State University, Oregon State University, Penn State, and the American Association of Meat Processors.
September 2019: The first draft of the RAC Center floor plan has been executed by Sue Veith, St. Mary’s County planner, in consultation with Meredith Leigh of Mereleigh Foods (consulting butcher, processing, charcuterie expert), and is currently under review by SMADC staff.
2/8/18: RFP Proposal Due
1/29/18: Amendment #3 released. Includes new questions.
11/27/17: Amendment #2 released. Includes updated resources.
11/8/17: Amendment #1 released. Includes summary of pre-preposal conference, question and answer, clarifications and revisions for the RFP, and sign-in sheet.
10/23/17: Pre-Proposal Conference, 1:00 pm, 15035 Burnt Store Road, Hughesville, MD 20637
10/16/17: Deadline for Pre-Proposal Questions (questions sent via email to Procurement Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9/26/17: RFP Issued, VIEW THE RFP
1/27/17: RFP Proposal Due Date
1/20/17: Deadline for RFP Questions from Bidders
12/27/16: Amendment #1 released. Includes the following from the Pre-proposal Conference of
12/13/16: Summary of conference, questions and answers, clarifications and revisions for the RFP, sign-in sheets and amendment acknowledgement form.
12/13/16: Pre-Bidders RFP Meeting
12/6/16: Pre-Proposal Conference RFP Questions Due
11/17/16: RFP Issued
4/15/16: SMADC expects to release an RFP for a public-private partnership to develop, manage and operate the meat processing facility to service the region’s multi-cultural community in accordance with USDA standards in the Southern Maryland region (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s counties).
4/11/16: SMADC Public Interest Meeting on meat processing facility. VIEW THE MINUTES.
3/23/16: There will be an important information session on April 11, 2016, outlining the Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process for potential property owners, developers and operators who are planning to submit a bid.
10/20/15: SMADC continues plans for the proposed Southern Maryland Ag Business Park and Food Innovation Center. SMADC is currently drafting a Request for Proposals (RFP) which will be published as soon as it is approved.
7/13/2015: SMADC is in the planning stages of the proposed Southern Maryland Ag Business Park and Food Innovation Center. Thank you to all that submitted Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the site. We will begin the review process in July. We will also request for a second brief round of public submissions for the site, and then issue a public request for proposals for an entity to hold title.
5/27/2015: Public meetings are now being scheduled in each of the Southern Maryland counties to present information about the project and solicit community input.
5/22/2015: The process of identifying and procuring a parcel of land for the proposed Center has now begun. “Expressions of Interest” (EOIs) from landowners are now being accepted. The deadline to submit an EOI is July 10, 2015. The EOI link is no longer active.
This is a Request for Expressions of Interest and Information (EOI) from landowners or their representatives for the lease or purchase of a site/sites suitable to develop a regional Agri-Business and Center for Food Innovation, located within the Southern Maryland region (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s counties). It is not a solicitation or request for formal proposals that will result in a contractual relationship or commit the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland to enter into a further agreement with any respondent. This should be considered a request for interest and information only.
5/14/2015: SB 909 has been signed by Governor Hogan, which means we are now officially authorized to use our funding for the real estate acquisition. We are still awaiting approval before issuing the “Expression of Interest” (EOI) request to the public.
5/8/2015: SMADC has created an on-line survey designed to collect input from stakeholders and the community about the proposed Ag and Food Center, specifically to find which components of the facility are most requested and to prioritize the order in which they are developed. This survey is no longer active.
4/2015. The Southern Maryland Delegation INTRODUCED A BILL (SENATE BILL 909) to allow SMADC, through the Tri-County Council, to use funds to purchase, lease or lease-to-buy real estate for this purpose. Once the bill is signed by the Governor, it will become law. We are awaiting one more level of approval before we issue a request for an “Expression of Interest” (EOI) to the public. Anyone with suitable property within the five-county area is welcome to apply. We hope to have the EOI Request available as soon as possible, and ideally have a site selected later this summer. The EOI Request will be posted in public venues such as newspapers, newsletters, the SMADC website and other venues.