Farmer Support

Lifting up the local farmers and food producers who are pioneers in sustainability is a fundamental pillar of our work. These farmers are protecting our waterways from runoff and erosion, providing for the well-being of farm animals, raising food without harmful chemicals, and making wholesome food available for us to eat at local farmers’ markets.

Unfortunately, these farmers face many hurdles and threats that were unheard of a few decades ago.

Today’s agricultural sector is largely one of corporate concentration – a few corporations have control over most of our food system. This concentrated corporate power has made small, independent farmers vulnerable to unfair practices and other forms of abuse, and forced many off of their land. Independent livestock farmers in the area, for example, have virtually no options for the slaughter, processing and distribution of their products. This unchecked power hurts rural economies and threatens our health, land and waterways.

Small-scale farmers are also disadvantaged in obtaining farm subsidies. According to a study by the Heritage Foundation, subsidies are disproportionately given to industrial-sized farms over smaller farms. These subsidies ultimately benefit large agricultural corporations more than the actual farmers that sell to them. According to the US Department of Agriculture, in 2014 only one-fifth of commodity payments that year went to small sized farms; the rest primarily went to mid-scale and large-scale farms.

Local farmers across the region face hurdles making it even more important to invest in practices and policies that alleviate these challenges, while rewarding good stewardship and sustainable practices. 

In Maryland, Fair Farms has supported volunteer days and championed a number of legislative initiatives and regulations that support farmers who are farming sustainably. For instance, the Food Donation Pilot Program will allow farmers to donate their leftover foods at the end of a farmers market and receive a tax credit in return, with double the credit for organic produce. Another piece of legislation we supported will create the Healthy Soils Program, which will promote agricultural practices that increase the biological activity and carbon sequestration potential of Maryland soils. Our goal is to provide incentives and financial support for farmers who implement healthy soils practices. In addition to protecting our soils and increasing the nutritional value of our food, these practices will also and sequester carbon, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

We also aim to support new infrastructure projects that give farmers more options to process and distribute their food locally. Every farmer needs access to these facilities and equipment to harvest, store, process, and sell their products in a sustainable, fair and efficient way.

Fair Farms celebrates resilient farmers throughout the region who are farming against the grain – in spite of these major, system-wide challenges. Supporting these farmers is critical to achieving a sustainable food system and ensuring a healthy food supply for future generations to come.

Latest Posts

Organic Pick-Your-Own Farms in Maryland and Pennsylvania

By Victoria Parsons, ViP Consultancy, Co-Founder & Public Affairs Strategist Autumn is here, and the leaves are all around us. With the holidays around the corner, this is a wonderful time to visit farms and orchards! Although apple season is coming to a close, pumpkin season is here. Maryland and Pennsylvania are home to several…
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Podcast Gems: What Land Liberation Means for Maryland

Written by Arli Lima of Arli’s Appetite On episode 33 of the Edible Activist Podcast, host Melissa L. Jones was joined by Dom Hosack, black farmer and Farm Director at THEARC Farm in Washington, D.C.  The podcast features dynamic people of color working in food and agriculture willing to share personal stories and perspectives that…
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How to Support the Farmworkers at the Center of Our Food System

When making decisions about our food, there are many important pieces to consider. Was this chicken raised with high-level animal welfare conditions in mind? Does this apple have pesticide residues? Did this lettuce come from Maryland or California? While these are all important pieces to consider, much of the conversation about our food focuses on…
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Farmer Spotlight: Keith Ohlinger, Regenerative Farmer

Written by Ashley Guenard “His passion for agriculture and living things is unbelievable.” Farming is in Keith’s Ohlinger’s blood— his family has farmed for almost 400 years. Even as a child, he knew that farming was his future. Keith and his wife now own Porch View Farm LLC, a 22 acre farm in Western Howard…
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Sneak Peek: “The Future of Food”

Fair Farms was lucky enough to be featured as part of The Click & Pledge Foundation’s “The Next Generation” project. They decided to highlight Fair Farms and the ways in which our farmer partners are working to create a food system that nourishes the environment and sustainably feeds the world for generations to come. Check…
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Maryland Farmers for a Green New Deal

Written by Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association The Green New Deal is the first Congressional proposal to tackle climate change that includes strategies related to food and farming. The Green New Deal would “. . . secure for all people of the United States for generations to come: clean air and water; climate and community resiliency;…
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Highlights from the 2017 Ag. Census

Written by Mary Nell Johnson The 2017 Agriculture Census, which was released this month, provides insight into the number of farms, the overall economic vitality of the industry, and the demographics of farmers throughout the United States. The 2017 census shows a slight decline in the number of farms—there were 2.04 million farms counted in…
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Farmworkers’ Fight for a Livable Wage

Written by Doreen Paster Maryland made national news during the 2019 legislative session. The General Assembly passed, and then overrode the governor’s veto of a significant increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour over the coming years. Maryland is only the 6th state in the country to do so. The increase in the minimum wage…
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