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

A Look at Tenant Farming in Maryland

Written by Morgan Johnson, Staff Attorney “Buy land—they aren’t making it anymore.” These words from Mark Twain underscore a concept that tenant farmers are well aware of—land is scarce. Scarcity drives up costs, and presents an imbalance in the power to choose what, when, and how changes may be made to farmland. Roughly 64% of…

Partner Spotlight: Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture

Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern For this month’s Partner Spotlight, we are highlighting the work of Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. We got in touch with Pamela Hess, Executive Director, to get an insider’s look at Arcadia’s work and how that has shifted in light of COVID-19.  The current food system…

Fair Farms Partner Highlight : Good Dog Farm

Fair Farms Partner Highlight : Good Dog Farm Good Dog Farm is a 5 acre sustainable vegetable farm located in Parkton, MD. Founded in 2016 by Joanna Winkler and Bryan Alexander, Good Dog Farm supplies locally grown and certified USDA Organic food to Baltimore area residents. They’re currently in peak tomato season, sometimes bringing in…

Fair Farms Partner Farms 2020 CSAs – Open Now

In light of COVID-19 and the abruptions to our local food system, Fair Farms put together a list of our partner farms who are still offering CSA shares. It’s wonderful to invest in your local farms and ensure consistent, quality produce for the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons!                 …
Farmers Market

Buy Local Week 2020

Running from July 18th to 26th is Maryland Buy Local Week! Local farmers and food producers need all the support they can get, especially in the face of a global pandemic. A great way to provide support is by taking the Buy Local Challenge, which encourages Marylanders to buy locally-grown food every day for a…

One Farmer’s Journey Growing Specialty Crops in Maryland

Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern John Manirakiza is a farmer in Beltsville, Maryland who grows African ethnic crops, also known as heritage or specialty crops, at Firebird Research Farm at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). John first gained interest in this type of production in 2009 when he spent the…

A Firsthand Look at Farming During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern Since March, challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed many flaws in our food system. From empty shelves in grocery stores to meatpacking facility closures, consumers have become ever more conscious of the complicated system that brings food to our plates. Farmers around the country have also…

Living Local : Bluebird Farms

This article was written by as part of the “Living Local: Small-Scale, Large Impact” project by Chandler Joiner, Environmental Educator at the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. Nancie Corbett always dreamed of growing the perfect tomato. “My first goal was to grow the most perfect, best tasting tomato. The kind you remember eating out of your…