ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 4, 2021) – Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder inducted the Cross family of Prince George’s County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame tonight during the Maryland Agriculture Council’s “Taste of Maryland Agriculture” event.
“This year more than ever, it is clear how incredibly important the work of our farmers and producers is to each and every Marylander,” said Governor Hogan. “The resilience and perseverance of the Cross family has allowed their operation to grow and serve their community for more than a century. They represent the best of Maryland’s agriculture industry and it is an honor to induct the Cross family into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame.”
As the leading industry in Maryland, agriculture contributes $16 billion to our state’s economy and supports more than 65,000 jobs. There are 12,429 farms occupying nearly two million acres of land statewide. The Cross family is the 53rd inductee in the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame.
“Maryland farm families are the backbone of our state’s agriculture industry,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “The Cross family are leaders in their community, committed to conservation, and passionate about what they do. This is a well-deserved honor and I commend the Cross family for their decades of service to the agriculture community in Prince George’s and across the state.”
About the Cross Family
The Cross Family has been farming in Prince George’s County since John and Elizabeth Cross moved to North Keys in the mid 1800s, where they raised their 11 children. The Cross’ grew tobacco and served as the local market for other growers in the area. The Cross brothers also operated a small feed and fertilizer store that would later become a Southern States Cooperative franchise location, giving them the ability to expand their market and serve a wider range of Maryland farmers. In addition to their tobacco and feed businesses, the Cross’ grew a variety of field crops and raised beef cattle and chickens. As their operation continued to grow, the family decided to incorporate the family business in 1986, making Sandra Cross the president and 100% stockholder of R&D Cross, Inc.
In recent years, the family made the decision to transition away from growing tobacco, instead using those fields for corn and soybeans in rotation with cover crops of hay, which are sold as feed at the family’s store. The embrace of cover crops is a great example of the family’s commitment to conservation practices. The Cross family also hosts an annual public education dinner event on their farm that emphasizes various agricultural topics, including chemical and fertilizer use, equine updates, safety practices, and information on agricultural products. Their efforts to embrace conservation practices and educate the public earned them the honor of being named the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District’s Cooperator of the Year in 2009.
As an essential business, R&D Cross, Inc. has kept their operations running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with stringent safety measures in place to protect their workers and customers. With curbside pickup and expanded delivery options, their store has been able to continue providing critical supplies to farmers, gardeners, and animal owners during these unprecedented times.
Off the farm, the family is also very active in their local community, playing various roles supporting 4-H groups, scouts, and little league sports teams. Sandra has taken on an active leadership role in the family’s church, where she is celebrating 60 years of volunteer service as the organist and choir director. The Cross family is a great example of the kind of commitment and service that makes agriculture Maryland’s top industry.
Sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame was created in 1991 by then-Governor William Donald Schaefer to honor agricultural leaders who exemplify high standards of achievement and commitment to the industry and their communities. Nominations are accepted at local University of Maryland Extension offices. More information on each hall of fame family is available on the department’s website.
A complete list of Hall of Fame honorees is available online.
Quotes about the Cross family from the Nominators
“Prince George’s County could not be more proud of the Cross family being selected and receiving this prestigious statewide recognition. They are pillars of their community and their contributions to agriculture are unmatched. Congratulations to a great family.” Phil Miller, President, Prince George’s County Farm Bureau
“The Cross family have been Cooperators with the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District for more than 70 years. They are leaders in soil and water conservation efforts and have installed multiple best management practices (BMPs) including […] one of the largest grade stabilization drop pipe structures in Prince George’s County. In the farming community, the R&D Cross farm store is the ‘go-to’ business for all the necessary farm supplies needed to install agronomic best management practices. They are also recognized as a leader in the construction of the area’s finest equestrian riding facilities. The Cross family exemplifies the true spirit of the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame.” Steve Darcey, District Manager, Prince George’s Soil Conservation District
“The Cross name in Prince George’s County is synonymous with quality, service and integrity in agriculture. As the main agriculture retail store in the county, they are known to producers and the general public alike for the wide variety of goods they offer for animal owners, farm producers, gardeners and homeowners. They are associated with quality products and service. That is perhaps the most visible part of what they do, but still only a minor part of their total contributions to the agriculture community. Members of the family have provided service to ag organizations and programs from county fairs to leadership in the Farm Bureau to serving on community boards and organizations.” Karol Dyson, Area Extension Director, University of Maryland Extension