University of Maryland Extension

Initiative Team travels to the Eastern Shore

On 23 August 2013, a group from the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) traveled to Maryland’s Eastern Shore to the city of Princess Ann to visit a local farm run by Doug Green.  As the caravan of vehicles arrived, a sign in the front yard of the farm proudly stated that this farm was a Maryland Centennial Farm and had been operated by Doug Green’s family for over a century.

 After a lunch, which featured fried chicken and homemade brownies, the group held an impromptu question and answer session which explored many of the issues facing Maryland farmers today as they attempt to comply with government regulations and maintain a profitable farm. Once the Q&A session concluded the group traveled to visit one of the four chicken houses on Doug Green’s farm.  While inside the chicken house Doug Green and his farmhand detailed the procedures and steps taken to ensure the health and well-being of the 20,000 chickens that were being housed. 

As the group traveled back to Doug Green’s home from the chicken house there was a renewed focus and feeling of understanding as the academics from ALEI and the farmer were able to gain a clear perspective of the daily challenges and concerns facing family farmers like Doug Green.

This type of interaction with the everyday family farmers of Maryland is at the core of the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Project mission.  On a basic level, ALEI’s broad mission is simply to identify and address the legal needs facing Maryland’s rural communities and in particular family farmers.  To achieve this goal three institutions—the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences—came together to form ALEP and harness necessary expertise and resources to fulfill the mission.

To date, ALEI has held meetings with stakeholder groups, developed survey instruments to administer to Maryland Extension faculty and farmers, and formed an Advisory Panel to provide guidance to ALEI initiatives.  As ALEI moves forward the group is developing programs that partner with the national “Ask-An-Expert” network, distribute informational briefs and educational materials for farmers on critical legal issues, and prepare curricula for the University of Maryland Extension educators to address areas of high priority legal needs facing family farmers.

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