When the Tobacco Buyout was initiated twelve years ago, many thought that would be the end of Southern Maryland agriculture. Farming classes in schools had ended several decades before that. Young farmer groups had stopped meeting in each of the counties after attendance dwindled. With the Tobacco Buyout, farmers still planting the ‘money crop’ were being paid not to raise it.
Even before the Buyout, low density housing was already having a major impact on the landscape in Southern Maryland, resulting in the highest rate of residential growth and greatest rate of farmland loss in the state. It is no wonder that many had written off farming.
But things have changed. Commodity crop prices have improved. Existing farmers and new farmers have diversified into new farming ventures. Most of all, nationwide, there is a consumer desire to buy locally sourced food and this region is blessed with many consumers.
So why a blog? Things are happening fast. There is an increased need for fact-based information about and for Southern Maryland agriculture so that farmers, and those who support them, can make sound farm decisions.