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

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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The Role Community Businesses Can Play In Supporting Our Farms

Written by Jane Bloodworth Rowe An excellent way to create a sustainable community with a locally-based food market is through partnerships between area growers and retailers who can help sell their products. Here in Maryland, one such partnership has developed between the Rooster + Hen Store, an organic general store with locations in Catonsville and…
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Video: Regenerative Ag. In Frederick County

Fair Farms had the chance to visit Holterholm Farms, a regenerative dairy operation in Frederick County. Ron Holter and his family are helping to show that regenerative agriculture is beneficial for not just our soils, water quality, and health, but for the farmers’ economic viability as well. Check out the video to learn more. Video…
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Looking to get more delicious, local food into your life? Try a CSA!

The season of CSA’s is nearly upon us. With a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription, you pay an upfront fee to a local farmer for a share of the season’s harvest. This includes fresh produce and, in some cases, eggs and other animal products. These items are typically delivered on a weekly basis all summer…
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Five Questions with Farmer Peter Elmore of Star Bright Farm

Fair Farms has been lucky to work with Peter Elmore of Star Bright Farm. Peter is an active member of our Farmer Advisory Council, has hosted us for farm volunteer days,and even recently joined us in Annapolis to testify in support of the Maryland Farms & Families Fund. Fair Farms is also working with Peter…
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CERCLA Farm Action Alert

Petition: EPA Action Endangers Rural Health, Air Quality

We will be submitting these comments including your name and zip code to the EPA via Regulations.gov. This information along with any personalized comments you share may be publicly disclosed and searchable on the Internet and in a paper docket and will be provided to the Department or Agency issuing the notice. To view any…
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UMES Bus Tour: Exploring Small Farms through New Jersey and Delaware

We had a blast at the University of Maryland Easter Shore (UMES) Small Farms Bus Tour last month (and the pictures to prove it). The tour was sponsored in-part by the USDA Office of Advocacy and Outreach, the Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and the USDA Renewable Resources Extension Act. The goal of…
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