Press Release: Maryland Agricultural Stakeholders Unite in Support of Funding the Md. Farms and Family Act
One hundred farmers and agriculture-related small businesses petition Governor Hogan to fund the MD Farms and Family Act that helps fight hunger and directly invests in local farms
For Immediate Release
December 18, 2017
Baltimore, MD (December 18, 2017) -Representatives from Fair Farms Maryland and Maryland Farmers Market Association (MDFMA) hand-delivered a petition signed by more than one hundred agricultural stakeholders to Governor Larry Hogan and Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder on December 15, 2017, urging the Administration to fund the Maryland Farms and Families Act in the next state budget.
The Maryland Farms and Families Act, which passed unanimously through both houses during the 2017 legislative session and which Governor Hogan signed into law in May, created an unfunded grant program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture that would support matching programs at Maryland farmers markets. Such programs provide a dollar-for-dollar match for purchases made using federal nutrition assistance at participating farmers markets throughout Maryland, thereby connecting food-insecure Marylanders with quality, fresh foods produced by local farmers.
Farmers market matching programs such as Maryland Farmers Market Association’s Maryland Market Money, which were first introduced in Maryland and have rapidly proliferated throughout the country, are a win-win: the same dollar simultaneously supports Maryland farmers and provides our state’s most vulnerable households with critical access to nutritious foods.
Petitioners include agricultural stakeholders from across Maryland, ranging from small family produce farms and tree fruit growers, to dairy and poultry farmers, to ranchers, to Maryland-based food businesses and non-profits. For farmers, who operate within slim profit margins, the benefits of funding the Act are clear.
“I am urging the Md. Dept. of Agriculture to allocate funds for this program to help low income consumers double their purchasing power at Maryland farmers markets while also investing in farmers and producers like me,” said Alex Smith, owner of Purple Sol Farms in Baltimore County. “I can think of no more impactful or appropriate investment in our State and its people than simultaneously improving access to quality food, and supporting Maryland businesses.”
If funded, the same dollars that help farmers like Alex Smith will also help low-Income Marylanders such as Sarah Steel, a single mother of three who resides in Baltimore and participates in the Maryland Market Money incentive program at several farmers markets.
“Maryland Market Money really changed my life,” said Steel. “I was sick and having lots of health problems.” Since learning of the matching program she has been able to fill her market basket with nutritious local foods and her health has greatly improved. “It’s like the difference between supreme gas and just the regular stuff. Your body just runs a lot better on market food.”
The petition asks for the full $500,000 in funding, though advocates note that a lesser state investment would still make a huge impact, bringing more farm fresh food to food-insecure families, greater economic security for those who work so hard to grow food in Maryland, and support for our local economy.
# # #
About Fair Farms Maryland
Fair Farms Maryland is a movement of environmental and public health groups, businesses, consumers, and farmers committed to a sustainable and equitable food system. Fair Farms Maryland seeks to create awareness about the relationship between agriculture, water, food and public health; galvanize Marylanders to reduce agricultural pollution; and support farmers, businessesand public policies that promote healthy, sustainable agricultural practices. www.fairfarms.org
About Maryland Farmers Markets Association
The Maryland Farmers Market Association (MDFMA) was founded in 2012 to connect people with Maryland farmers markets and to provide resources and coordinated services to market managers, farmers, and consumers alike. A statewide nonprofit, the MDFMA operates programs to provide access to healthy local food for all and improve the quality of and transparency at Maryland farmers markets. marylandfma.org