ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Did you know that most of life’s necessities — food, fiber, clothing and shelter — start with agriculture? March 14 is National Agriculture Day, which recognizes the contributions of agriculture to American society. To coincide with this national celebration, Gov. Larry Hogan has declared March 10-16 as “Maryland Agriculture Week.” From the mountains of Western Maryland with its dairy farms and hay, to Central Maryland with its greenhouse and livestock industries, to the Eastern Shore’s acres of corn and poultry — Maryland truly grows something for everyone.
“Maryland’s agricultural industry is an essential component of the fabric of our great state, and critical to our future economic success,” said Gov. Hogan. “This week is dedicated to promoting understanding about where our food and fiber come from, as well as the vital role this industry plays in our shared history, environment, and quality of life.”
From poultry and beef, to corn and fresh produce, Maryland farmers are working harder than ever to meet the needs of American consumers and others around the world. New technology has allowed farmers to meet these demands more efficiently and environmentally friendly than ever before. Today, each American farmer feeds more than 165 people. Agriculture is the nation’s top export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy.
“As our younger generations grow further and further away from the farm, it is important to make sure they remember where their food comes from,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “While many people think food comes from the grocery store, Maryland Agriculture Week is a great opportunity to remind us all of the tremendous amount of work done by our farmers and producers to get their products to the shelves.”
In Maryland, one-third of the land mass — more than 2 million acres — is farmland. In 2018, the top commodity sectors were poultry (broilers), grain, greenhouse and nursery and dairy. For more interesting facts about Maryland agriculture, see the AgBrief.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture shares 10 suggestions to help citizens recognize National and Maryland Agriculture Week:
- Watch Maryland Farm and Harvest on Maryland Public Television or online. The hit series, now in production for a seventh season, puts a human face on farming by showcasing personal stories about farmers, their work with the land and resources, production of food and fiber for our society, challenges, hopes and dreams, and their future.
- Take It from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay. This helpful education campaign provides homeowners with information and tips from farmers that they can use to do their part to help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The initiative offers a series of fact sheets that can be helpful.
- Plan your garden and repair lawns with certified seeds. Spring is almost here and now is the time to plan for your gardens and lawns. Be sure to get a soil test before fertilizing and check out the University of Maryland Extension’s Grow it Eat it website.
- Visit a winery. Maryland has 10 wine trails and 90 wineries that offer more than 500 different wines. Touring a winery or a vineyard in the countryside, tasting some of Maryland’s fine wines, and enjoying the company of friends are wonderful ways to spend a springtime day. Did we mention March is Maryland Wine Month?
- Ride a horse. Sixty percent of the horses in Maryland are used for recreational purposes, while 40 percent are for racing. Visit one of 35 Horse Discovery Centers or find a place to ride near you in MDA’s guide to licensed horse stables.
- Visit a creamery. Maryland has nine dairy farms that offer fresh, delicious on-farm ice cream. Together, they make up the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail.
- Meet a Maryland Farmer. If you can’t get to a real farm, visit My Maryland Farmers to learn more about the important work our farmers do each day, or check out the Maryland’s Best YouTube channel for a virtual tour.
- Read a book about Maryland Agriculture. Learn more about the 2019 Ag Literacy Campaign.
- Follow Maryland Agriculture (MdAgDept) on social media. The department is also on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. You can also connect with Maryland’s Best Agriculture on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
- As products become in-season, serve a meal with local food or pack a local lunch for your children. Ask your grocer for local products or visit MarylandsBest.net to find out where you can buy local products near you. Maryland farmers grow and produce a wide variety of food including fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses and meats for lunches and snacks that are available from farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and community supported agriculture farms.
For more in depth information about Maryland agriculture see the 2018 Maryland Agricultural Overview, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Find fun facts about agriculture and more information at the National Ag Day website.
— Maryland Department of Agriculture