Maryland crop and livestock producers are dealing with many challenges that can affect their ability to produce an abundant food supply and maintain profitability. The areas of emphasis for this program will focus on the 1.25 million acres of grain crops, 75,000 acres of vegetable and fruit crops, and 260,000 acres of forage crops and pasture acreage by improving animal and crop production efficiency and land management in the program areas of nutrient and water management, integrated pest management and issues with the technology of personal protective clothing for pesticide applicators, environmentally and economically sustainable production, and grain marketing.

Increases in:

  • agricultural literacy in urban and rural areas to develop residents' understanding of the food system;
  • the sustainability and profitability of agriculture, forestry, and green industries through sustainable environmental practices;
  • agricultural profitability and sustainability through the development of alternative enterprises and value-added products;
  • Maryland's food system to match local production with market demand; the use and affordability of locally grown, fresh food through local market promotion and community gardens;
  • and steady decrease of agricultural land while enhancing (promoting) the value and open space in rural and urban areas. Research programs coordinated through the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station will focus on environmentally and economically sustainable food production, thus ensuring food security and helping minimize hunger.  

Agriculture Needs Assessments

Eastern Shore Agriculture Needs Assessment

Farmers along Maryland's Eastern Shore are passionate about promoting the importance of agriculture to legislators and the general public, have concerns about the loss of farmland in their regions due to urban encroachment, and want to be more involved in developing regulations that affect farming communities. These are just some of the findings from a recent survey completed by the University of Maryland Extension (UME) assessing the needs of farmers in the state's nine Eastern Shore counties.

Roughly 300 Maryland farmers living and working the land along the Eastern Shore completed the survey on paper or through an online link. The results will be used to help UME better understand issues facing Eastern Shore agriculture, identify agricultural and educational needs and focus UME training and resources.

The survey included four sections: industry priorities, concerns, and viability; research and education needs; education and training preferences; and demographic and farm information. Topics ranking high in importance with responding farmers included increasing legislators' and the general public's understanding of agriculture production and its effect on the economy, farmer involvement in the legislative process and regulation development, maintenance and protection of adequate agricultural land, and environmental stewardship. In terms of research and education input, farmers showed avid interest in environmental law, nutrient management technologies, soil science, and increasing soil health, integrated pest management practices, and conservation practices.

The information gained from the survey also provides demographic details about farming on Maryland's Eastern Shore:

  • One-third of respondents report tilling 101-500 acres, followed by 17% at 0-10 acres and 13% at 501-1,000 acres.
  • 61% of respondents farm full-time with 73% farming more than 20 years.
  • The majority of responders report farms growing field crops (77%) followed by livestock (26%), fruit and/or vegetables (24%), and poultry (22%).
  • Those responding to the survey were male (79%), non-Hispanic (100%), and white (98%).
  • More than 87% of farmers were over the age of 45 with the majority being in the range of 55-64 (33%), 65-75 (22%), and 45-54 (21%). *The results for gender, ethnicity, race, and age are consistent with data from the 2012 Agriculture Census.

Moving forward, UME will continue to analyze the data and prepare a plan to respond to the requests and meet the needs of farmers and landowners in the nine counties along Maryland's Eastern Shore. Organizers of the survey would like to extend a gracious "Thank You" to those farmers who took the time to complete the survey and provide comments.

2015 Eastern Shore Agriculture Needs Assessment Survey Results

North and Western Maryland Agriculture Needs Assessment

The University of Maryland Extension (UME) conducted an agricultural needs assessment for the seven counties in northern and western Maryland in 2017.  This survey will help UME understand issues concerning regional agriculture, identify agricultural and educational needs, and to focus on UME agricultural training and resources.

The survey was conducted in 2017 and included four sections: 

  1. industry priorities, concerns, and viability,
  2. research and education needs,
  3. education and training preferences and
  4. demographic and farm information. 

Results were received from 172 farmers through paper or online surveys (29% response rate).

One-third of the respondents reported tilling 101-500 acres. This was followed by 25% reporting 51-100 acres and 20% reporting 0-10 acres. Fifty-three percent farm full time with 66% farming more than 20 years and 14% farming 11-20 years. The majority of respondents reported raising livestock (29%) and field crops (28%), followed by fruit and/or vegetables (13%). Many reported farming in more than one of the commodity categories.  The majority of those responding to the survey were male (75%), non-Hispanic (100%), and white (96%). Over 58% of farmers were over the age of 55 with the majority being in the range of 55-64 (34%) and 65-75 (24%).  The results for gender, ethnicity, race, and age are in alignment with demographic data from the 2012 Agriculture Census. 

Results from industry priorities and viability were predominately related to regulatory, legislative, and production-related topics. Those with the highest importance according to mean include:

  • Legislators understanding of agriculture production and its importance to the economy;
  • Public understanding of agricultural production and its importance to the economy;
  • Maintenance and protection of adequate agricultural land; and
  • Farmer involvement in the legislative process and regulation development.

Major farm concerns include loss of farmland due to urban encroachment and farm transfer to the next generation.  Industry concerns include agriculture maintaining its viability and profitability in years to come and the public image of agriculture.

Survey respondents were asked about desired knowledge, education, and training they would like to receive. Soil science and increasing soil health and current regulations and environmental laws were the top two critical education topics, followed by animal nutrition and feeding, use of records to improve financial decisions, and integrated pest management.

Education delivery preferences included half-day seminars or workshops, one-on-one education or consulting, and Extension newsletters. Priority services for UME to provide include sources of educational material, interpretation, and assistance with agricultural regulations, research data from field and variety trials, and agricultural promotion and education to consumers and non-farmers.

Moving forward, UME will continue to analyze the data and prepare a plan to meet the needs of farmers and landowners in northern and western counties. Organizers of the survey would like to extend a gracious "Thank You" to those farmers who took the time to complete the survey and provide comments.

North and Western Maryland Agriculture Needs Assessment 2017 Survey Results

Program Impact Reports

Row Crop & Forage Production

Programs Reports
Agronomy Days View report
Grain Marketing Program View report
Nutrient Management View report
Pesticide Safety View report
Precision Ag Day View report
Vegetable Meetings View report

 

Animal Science

Programs Reports
Horses View report
Poultry Management  

 

Farm and Agribusiness Management

Programs Reports
Ag Marketing Program View report
Entrepreneurial Coaching Program View report
Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center View report
Risk Management View report
Women In Agriculture View report

 

Intergrated Programs

Programs Reports
Agricultural Nutrient Management Program View report
LEAD Maryland Fellowship Program View report

 

Ornamental Horticulture

Program Report
Landscape and Nursery IPM View report