ANNAPOLIS, MD – Did you know that most of life’s necessities – food, fiber, clothing and shelter – start with agriculture? March 20 is National Agriculture Day, which recognizes the contributions of agriculture to American society. To coincide with this national celebration, Governor Larry Hogan has declared March 18-24 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 is incredibly fortunate to be home to a rich and diverse agriculture industry,” said Governor Hogan. “I am proud to recognize and celebrate this week with our hardworking farmers and producers, who continue to show their commitment to this vital industry, their communities, and our statewide efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay.”
There are 2.1 million farms in the United States, a country with nearly 326 million people. Agriculture products remain the nation’s top export. Each American farmer today feeds more than 155 people – a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.
“Agriculture is a critically important part of our everyday lives that is often overlooked,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Maryland Agriculture Week is a great opportunity to recognize our farm families who provide fresh, nutritious food across the state and beyond.”
In Maryland, one-third of the land mass – over 2 million acres – is farmland. In 2017, 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 sixth 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 ten wine trails and 70 wineries that offer more than 400 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.
- 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 eight 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 the Maryland’s Best YouTube channel for a virtual tour, or check out My Maryland Farmers.
- Read a book about Maryland Agriculture. Learn more about the 2018 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 and 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 (CSAs). Find out what’s in season.
For more in depth information about Maryland agriculture see the 2017 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.