State & Local Officials Tour Area Farms On Wed.

They wanted to learn the issues facing farmers.

Frederick, Md. (KM)  About 30 state and local officials on Wednesday took a tour of some  farms in Frederick County. They visited  Catoctin Mountain Orchards in Thurmont;  Glade Haven Farm, a dairy operation in Walkersville: Eddie Mercer Agri-Service; Thanksgiving Farms in Adamstown; and Distillery Lane Ciderworks in Jefferson.

“The tour brings people working directly and indirectly in agriculture from all different backgrounds, from dairy to grain farmers to state and local lawmakers, to orchardists, winemakers and nursery operators, everyone working in agriculture can identify some common ground on industry-related topics,” says Katie Albaugh, the county’s Agriculture Business Development Specialist, in a statement.

She said the purpose of the trip was to learn about some of the issues facing farmers. “One of the big issues we heard across the board was the deer management problem, how do we control the deer problem from destroying our crops on our farms,” Albaugh says.

Regarding labor issues, she says the problem for farmers is finding help, especially when it comes to picking produce for the market. Albaugh says many in Maryland take advantage of the federal H 2-A program, which brings in laborers from foreign countries for a short period of time. “We’re very lucky with that program. Other states don’t quite have an easy of a process when dealing with that. So we’re really lucky here in Maryland for that because some farmers are struggling to get labor into this country through the H 2-A program,” she says.

Other issues on the minds of farmers include new federal regulations covering the labeling of genetically modified foods.

Albaugh says  farmers also brought up issues covering wineries in Maryland, which is an up and coming industry within agriculture. “We’re kind of leading the state right now. It’s an exciting time for that in Frederick County agriculture. It’s something new. Our farmers are really diversifying,” she says.

One of the stops on the bus tour Wednesday was Distillery Lane Cider Works in Jefferson, which Albaugh says is the only cidery in Maryland.

“Our goal is to have open dialogue of current issues while offering new data on our emerging industry markets,” says Helen Propheter, Frederick County’s Director of Economic Development, which sponsored the tour, along with the Frederick County Farm Bureau and the Catoctin and Frederick Soil Conservation Districts.

The tour began at 9:00 AM,and end at 3:00 PM, Albaugh says.