While agriculture is still the number one industry in the state of Maryland, it is too often overlooked at the state and local levels. We must implement policies and incentives that protect Maryland farms by encouraging consumers to buy locally, and supporting value-added agriculture products such as specialty livestock, flowers, handmade soap, and gourmet food products. We must also expand access to urban markets in Columbia, Baltimore, Eldersburg, Annapolis and Washington, DC.
District 9 has a long, vibrant farming heritage, supplying vegetables and fruit as well as other agricultural products in wholesale, local retail, and in farmers markets. Our local greenhouses and nurseries supply the area with bedding transplants, plants for landscaping, and trees. Our farms employ locally and are an important part of our local economy. To encourage state procurement, I established the Certified Local Farms Enterprise Program, which requires state entities to purchase more food from Maryland’s small farmers.
The economic impact of COVID-19 has greatly increased the number of Marylanders suffering from food insecurity. That’s why I introduced legislation establishing the Maryland Food System Resiliency Council to address the hunger crisis and improve the long-term resilience of our food system. Working with the Food Council, we increased funding for Maryland Market Money and for food banks to purchase from Maryland farms.