The St. Mary’s County Farm Bureau held a Legislative Dinner on January 6, 2023 with 73 people attending.
Elected officials attending were: Senator Jack Bailey, Delegate Matt Morgan, Del. Todd Morgan, Sheriff Steve Hall, and Mrs. Karin M. Bailey, Chairman of the St. Mary’s County Board of Education. Information was presented by the bureau concerning Agricultural Education and the siting of commercial, utility-scale solar generating facilities.
There was discussion concerning the suspension of the Ag Education program at the Forrest Career and Technology Center and efforts to restore the program. There was also a conversation about funding for agricultural education programs in the county.
Attendees posed questions and concerns about agricultural land being converted from farming to solar-generating sites. Legislation that was introduced in 2021 and 2022 seeks to apportion solar-generating acreage throughout Maryland’s 23 counties. It is anticipated that this legislation will be reintroduced in the 2023 session. If passed, the law could obligate St. Mary’s County to host 1,600 to 2,000 acres of solar production, with the acreage potentially coming from farmland.
Two farm bureau members brought up issues, which were discussed. One member asked for assistance with traffic control when moving large farm equipment on county highways. Sheriff Hall invites any farmer who needs assistance when moving farm equipment to call his office to schedule an escort. Another member asked for an update on the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation’s (SDAT) procedural change where on-farm value-added buildings are being taxed at commercial rates instead of at agricultural rates, which has been the practice in the past. This matter was studied over the summer of 2022. A report has been made available to the Maryland General Assembly. Legislation to address this issue is expected during the upcoming legislative session.
The farm bureau appreciates the participation of our elected officials at the dinner meeting.