Maryland producer Elk Run Vineyards share how they manage risk. Produced by Maryland's Best

Business Planning, Crop & Farm Insurance

Economics and Budgets

  •     Economics of Commercial Grape Production

Business Planning

  • Agriculture Law Education Initiative
    A new collaboration among three distinguished Maryland universities—the Agriculture Law Education Initiative—is committed to providing Maryland farmers with the information they need to prosper while complying with the complex network of laws and policies protecting the integrity of the state's food system and environment.
  • Assessing Your Farm Business Plan
     It is an interactive assessment to assist farmers and agri-entrepreneurs in evaluating the potential of their farm business planning success. There are 54 statements in the assessment to which you rate your degree of agreement. At the end of the assessment, you are provided with a total score and given general recommendations for your business plan. The assessment by printing the paper version.
  • Beginning Farmer Success
    Beginning Farmer Success is a University of Maryland Extension partnership program providing farmers with tools and education to explore, refine, develop and implement farm businesses.
  • Contracts between Wineries and Growers eXtensoion Website
    Chris Lake, Director, Southern Oregon Wine Institute, Umpqua Community College
  • Farm Business Planning Workbook
    Planning is essential to any business, no matter how large or small your inventory, payroll, and bank account.  Ben Beale, Extension Educator, University of Maryland Extension-St. Mary's County; Shannon Dill, Extension Educator, University of Maryland Extension-Talbot County; Dale Johnson, Extension Specialist, Farm Management, University of Maryland Extension-WMREC; Ginger S. Myers, Extension Specialist, Marketing, University of Maryland Extension-WMREC

Crop & Farm Insurance

Grants, Loans, and Incentives

 Grants & Incentive Programs

  • Southern Maryland Agricultural Equity Incentive Matching Fund
    Under this program, only the activities of agricultural businesses located in the five Southern Maryland counties are eligible for farm business financing (these include: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s Counties).

    Loan amounts may range between $10,000 to $20,000, with no collateral security pledge required. Only the personal guarantees of all the borrowers will be needed. Loan funds may be requested for the following types of projects
    • Incubate the production of small fruits and increase acreage by existing small fruit growers.
    • Upgrade for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce in line with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
    • Purchase equipment and industry support services for the on-farm production of value-added farm products.
    • MARBIDCO administers the loan program on behalf of SMADC. Borrowers that pay on time will receive approximately 20-25% loan forgiveness at the end of the loan term.
  • Maryland Value-Added Produce Grant Program (MARBIDCO)
    Once per year, MARBIDCO offers grants of between $2,500 and $10,000 distributed on a competitive basis for value-added processing capital asset projects. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years. In addition, applicants must be making a product that is “value-added.”  For more information ...
  • FY21 Commercial, Industrial & Agricultural Grant Program
    MEA is providing the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Commercial, Industrial & Agricultural (CI&A) grant program to support improving the energy efficiency and reducing the energy costs of enterprises in Maryland’s commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors. The FY21 program will be divided into three separate application periods to best support energy efficiency projects for agriculture, manufacturing, and businesses that may be in varying planning stages or at various stages of readiness due to COVID-19. For more details ...
  • Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program
    The Rural Cooperative Development Grant program improves the economic condition of rural areas by helping individuals and businesses start, expand or improve rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on
  • USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)
    VAPG Program is to enable viable agricultural producers to develop businesses that produce and market value-added agricultural products. Grants are made to agricultural producers (independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures). Grant funds must be used by the agricultural producer for either economic planning activities for the value-added venture or operational costs (working capital) limited to activities directly related to the processing and/or marketing of the value-added product. For more information ...


  • Farm Credit  
  • Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO)  
    • Maryland Vineyard/Hopyard/Orchard Planting Loan Fund (MVPLF)
      Affordable financing to meet the unique financing needs of Maryland's landowners wanting to establish or expand vineyards, orchards, and hopyards. Interest-only options are available for a period of two to three years.
    • Maryland Resource-Based Industry Financing Fund Loan (MRBIFF)
      The MRBIFF program makes available low-interest loans to qualified applicants for the purchase of land and capital equipment. Commercial lender participation is required. MARBIDCO may provide up to a maximum of 40% of any financing needed for a project under the condition that a commercial lender (and/or a public instrumentality) has at least an equal financial commitment to the project.

  • USDA Microloan Program
    The focus of Microloans is on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales such as farmers’ markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), restaurants, and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods.

    Producers interested in applying for a microloan may contact their local Farm Service Agency office.  


  • Agricultural Law Extension Program
    This program is dedicated to providing the ag community with current information on Ag law.  It is an Extension outreach from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  • A Guide to Agricultural Labor Laws: How Best to Comply with the Relevant Federal and Maryland State Standards (pdf)
    By William Pons, Law Fellow for the Agriculture Law Education Initiative

    This fact sheet provides a nice overview of the applicable exemptions and clarifies aspects of labor law that may be confusing.  This publication is useful for all individuals who are operating a farm or agricultural-related business and hire employees.
  • Legal Responsibilities When Hiring Migrant, Seasonal, and H-2A Visa Workers (pdf)
    By Sarah Everhart, Legal Specialist for the Agriculture Law Education Initiative

    Hiring migrant, seasonal and H-2A visa workers can alleviate farm labor shortages.  However, there are specific Federal and state legal duties and responsibilities for farmers who employ these types of workers and substantial criminal and civil penalties for failing to adhere to the law. (October 2015)
  • Maryland Farm Internships and Labor Laws (pdf)
    By Sarah Everhart, Legal Specialist for the Agriculture Law Education Initiative

    Many farms across Maryland use interns to lighten the overall farm workload and help young people gain practical farming knowledge. Although interns can be a welcome addition to a farm’s workforce, farm employers need to be aware of how to properly compensate interns and the legal consequences of adding them to the payroll.
  • Recordkeeping Self-Audit for H-2A Employers 
    by Sarah Everhart, Legal Specialist for the Agriculture Law Education Initiative
  • Understanding Agricultural Liability: Premise’s Liability FS1001
    By Paul Goeringer, Extension Legal Specialist for Agriculture Law Education

    You can take steps to limit your potential liability by understanding your legal obligation or duty to protect visitors and other third parties from foreseeable harm. You also will need to know to whom you owe the duty and what duty others may owe to you. Steps you can take to limit your liability include obtaining insurance, procuring releases, and providing warnings. You should work with a licensed attorney in your area and your insurance agent to identify the tools that will work best for you.

Legal Resources

  • Agriculture Law Education Initiative
    A new collaboration among three distinguished Maryland universities—the Agriculture Law Education Initiative—is committed to providing Maryland farmers with the information they need to prosper while complying with the complex network of laws and policies protecting the integrity of the state's food system and environment.
  • Government Agencies (Website)
  • Maryland Risk Management Education Blog
    Provided by the Maryland Crop Insurance Project and the University of Maryland's Agriculture Law Education Initiative. This blog will provide readers with information on legal and risk management issues important to Maryland agriculture, upcoming events, and new materials that may interest readers.


University of Maryland Extension

  • Fruit and Vegetable News
    The University of Maryland Extension Impact Team publishes a Bi-weekly publication for the commercial vegetable and fruit industry. Editor: Dave Myers
  • Timely Viticulture
    University of Maryland Extension
    Timely Viticulture is an electronic newsletter that is designed to give those in the grape industry a timely reminder of things they should be considering in the vineyard. Since we are all busy it is not meant to be an exhaustive list of things to consider or even a full discussion of the options. It is just meant to think about what is happening and what is coming up, with some comments.  To subscribe to receive this publication, please contact Susan Barnes at 301-432-2767 x301 or by email at
  • Horticultural Technology Newsletter
    A yearly publication was released in December by the University of Maryland Extension & the Maryland State Horticultural Society. It contains articles on recent research and a special section on the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention that takes place in Hershey, PA.

Maryland Associations

  • Grape Vine
    Maryland Grape Growers Association
    Published by the Maryland Grape Growers Association and is distributed quarterly, in March, June, September, and December, to members of the Association. 
  • MWA News
    Sign up to receive an email that contains news and events featuring local vineyards and wineries.

Other Organizations

  • Finger Lakes Vineyard Updates
    The FLGP's electronic newsletter is delivered weekly during the growing season, containing timely reminders on pest management, cultural practices, weather conditions, and meeting notices. Articles are brief and focused on current vineyard tasks and relevant research. Links to online resources are provided within the message.
  • Fruit Grower News
    The Fruit Growers News is published 12 times per year, plus annual buyers' guide, grower profiles, crop protection information, new variety guides, production tips, research reports, and industry news. Also, subscribers receive a monthly e-newsletter.  
  • Ohio Grape-Wine Electronic Newsletter
    A monthly newsletter that addresses current topics of interest to you such as weather conditions, workshop announcements, pest updates, vineyard updates, and much more.
  • Tender Fruit & Grape Vine (for Commercial Fruit Growers)
    The Tender Fruit Grape Vine is a newsletter for the tender fruit and grape industry in Ontario, Canada. Tender fruit includes peaches, pears, plums, cherries, apricots, and nectarines. The newsletter includes coming events, weather information, research and extension project updates, and other articles of interest related to the industry. This publication is published every 2 months.
  • The Blueberry Bulletin 
    The Blueberry Bulletin is produced every week during the growing season and contains information on all aspects of highbush blueberry production and marketing. It is edited by Atlantic County Agricultural Agent Dr. Gary C. Pavlis, with articles written by Dr. Pavlis, Extension Entomologist Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Extension Pathologist Dr. Peter Oudemans, and IPM Coordinator Dean Polk. Additional articles are used from various sources which are cited.
  • The New York Berry News
    Cornell University Cooperative Extension
    Provides a statewide perspective on the production of berry crops in New York. This monthly online publication brings you cutting-edge research and extension information from Cornell faculty and extension staff, along with feature articles by guest authors from around the world.
  • The Ontario Berry Grower
    Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
    The Ontario Berry Growers a newsletter for the berry industry in Ontario. Articles feature research and information relevant to all aspects of berry production. This newsletter is published 6 times a year.
  • Veraison to Harvest
    Viticulture and Enology, Cornell CALS
    Is a weekly electronic newsletter put out by viticulture and enology extension personnel from Lake Erie, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and the Finger Lakes. Each issue provides accurate and up-to-date regional data while giving a statewide perspective as well. V to H begins in early September and concludes in late October.
  • Viticulture Notes
    Virginia Cooperative Extension
    This publication is electronically distributed. Viticulture Notes is distributed via Google Group. Email Tremain Hatch at to join the Google Group.
  • Fruit Matters Tree Fruit News
    Washington State University

Organizations/Other Links


Other Links

  • Geologic Map of Maryland 
  • Home and Garden Information Center (for homeowner inquires)
    The Home and Garden Information Center, University of Maryland Extension is a state-wide program providing sustainable gardening information to Marylanders.
  • University of Maryland Plant Sciences & Landscape Architecture
  • Farm Business Planning Workbook 
    Planning is essential to any business, no matter how large or small your inventory, payroll and bank account. This workbook will help you evaluate, strategize, see potential problems, and help you develop a successful business. Authors: Ben Beale, Extension Educator; University of Maryland - St. Mary’s County Shannon Dill, Extension Educator; University of Maryland - Talbot County. Dale Johnson, Extension Specialist, Farm Management; University of Maryland Reviewers: Ginger S. Myers, Extension Specialist, Marketing, University of Maryland, College Park; Laurie Wolinski, Extension Associate, Risk Management, University of Delaware, Wenferi Uva, Ph.D., Agricultural Economic Development Specialist; Mid-Shore Regional Council.
  • Assessing Your Farm Business Plan
    Assessing Your Farm Business Plan is an interactive assessment to assist farmers and agri-entrepreneurs in evaluating the potential of their farm business planning success. There are 54 statements in the assessment to which you rate your degree of agreement. At the end of the assessment, you are provided with a total score and general recommendations for your business plan. The assessment can be taken by printing the paper version.
  • Minnesota Fruit Research 
    University of Minnesota
  • Dr. Kelly Hamby Lab 
    University of Maryland
  • Farm and Crop Insurance
    Maryland Department of Agriculture
  • Produce Safety 
  • Maryland Organic Certification Program
    Maryland Department of Agriculture

Pesticide Safety Information & Education

Pesticide Safety Information & Education

To use pesticides classified as restricted, you must be certified to apply the restricted products by passing an examination which is administered by The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). Once obtained, you need to be re-certified yearly, by attending courses that are approved by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) due to changing laws and pesticide application requirements.

The University of Maryland Extension offers MDA-approved training opportunities to assist those seeking certification or re-certification.

To find out more, go to Pesticide Education & Assessment Program, the University of Maryland, Department of Entomology for information on Private and Commercial Applicator Training.

Water Soluble Packaging Label Changes!

Revised label language for Pesticide Products in Water Soluble Packaging to Protect Handlers.

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to registrants of products with water-soluble packaging (WSP) with revised instructions to be placed on the label of those products. When used properly, WSP can significantly reduce handler exposure during the mixing and loading of pesticides, qualifying it as a closed mixing/loading system under the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. However, some unintended practices in the field are actually increasing the risks, negating the intention of the technology.

EPA worked with state officials and a task force of pesticide registrants to examine the issue and develop the improved language in order to eliminate misuse and protect handlers.

The Agricultural Handler Exposure Task Force (a group formed by multiple registrants of agricultural products to generate exposure data in support of registration) uncovered this problem while conducting exposure studies for water-soluble packaging. They observed improper use of products in water-soluble packagings, such as spraying the products with high-pressure water and intentional breaking of water-soluble bags. The task force notified EPA of their observations and offered draft label language to address the improper use of the products.

The new label language includes detailed, step-by-step instructions specifically designed to correct misuse and protect handlers from exposure. Click here for the draft instructions...

Applicator Regulation, Storage and Transport Information

  • Maryland Department of Agriculture: Regulation Pertaining To The Pesticide Applicator's Law (15.05.01)
  • Maryland Department of Agriculture: Pesticide information Sheet-Storage and Transport (No.11)
  • Pesticide Worker Protection Standard "How to Comply Manual"
    EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency and Pesticide Educational Resource Collaborative (PERC)

Pesticide Application Labels

A label must be in the possession of the user at the time of pesticide application.

Pesticide Container Recycling Program

Maryland’s pesticide container recycling program is a combined effort of state, county, and federal agencies and private industry working together to protect the environment. Rinsing and recycling empty pesticide containers will help to reduce the potential for contamination of groundwater and the Chesapeake Bay while saving valuable landfill space.

For more information on the program and collection days click here ...

Maryland Department of Agriculture Pesticide Container and Containment regulations for  more information

Maryland Department of Agriculture Pesticide Disposal program for  more information

Value-Added Processing

  • Cottage Food Business Law in Maryland
    Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center (MREDC)
    University of Maryland Extension

  • Food Processing
    Maryland Department of Health
  • Food Processing in Maryland
    Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center(MREDC), University of Maryland Extension
    Are you a specialty food entrepreneur?  If so, check out the Food Processing in Maryland module on the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center website. This invaluable module provides information about how to sell and process food in Maryland including rules for specific foods and important regulatory information. An interactive map of Maryland's regulatory environment provides you with location-specific contacts.
  • Maryland Cottage Food Business
    Maryland Department of Health
  • Maryland Retail Products Producer Program (MRPPP)
    Ag Marketing, University of Maryland Extension
    Is a developing program for producers and craft food and beverage entrepreneurs who want to scale up to retail markets and capture the growing demand for local foods statewide.
  • Premium Quality "Specialty" Value Added Apple Products (pdf Presentation)
    Joseph A. Fiola, Ph.D., University of Maryland Extension Specialist, Viticulture and Small Fruit.
    Presentation at the 2012 Bay Area Fruit Meeting. 
  • Processing For Profits (pdf Publication)
    Ginger S. Myers, University of Maryland Extension Specialist, Marketing
    This publication is an assessment tool and guide for small-scale, on-farm food processors. While written with Maryland farmers in mind, any producer interested in the potential and pitfalls of on-farm and value-added food processing, will find this new resource helpful in their planning and implementation process. 
  • Value-Added Products
    Ag Marketing, University of Maryland Extension