By Carol Kinsley

Maryland Farm Bureau has served as the united voice of Maryland farm families since 1915. Its mission is “to protect and grow Maryland agriculture and preserve rural life.” 

One way MDFB carries out its mission is by advocating for legislation that impacts farmers. MDFB followed 139 bills during Maryland’s 2022 General Assembly. MDFB supported 65 bills. Of these, 29 passed. MDFB opposed 19 bills, of which only three passed and all three were significantly amended to either remove MDFB’s opposition or lessen the impact to farmers. 

During the legislative session, Farm Bureau members discussed priority bills with legislators and met with Governor Larry Hogan and his key agriculture cabinet to discuss how policies affect farmers in the state. 

MDFB’s representatives shared their top concerns on topics such as expanding the agricultural scrap tire recycling program and agricultural education. MDFB hopes to see ag education remain part of Career Technology Education, but also become part of the overall approved science curriculum. They addressed the recent avian flu concern and biosecurity restrictions on the use of poultry litter as fertilizer for this growing season; the need to reinstate the meat inspection program at the Maryland Department of Agriculture; and supporting the expansion of urban agriculture. 

“We want to thank Governor Hogan for giving the farming community a seat at the table for the past seven years,” said John Draper, MDFB first vice president. “With him keeping his campaign promise to end the war on rural Maryland and agriculture, we have been blessed to have the support of our governor.” 

Some of the bills supported by MDFB were, at the writing of this article, ready for the governor’s signature: 

HB558/SB296: Adding “farm camping” to the agritourism state definition. 

HB855/SB942: Urban Agriculture Water and Power Infrastructure Program. 

HB592: Deer management permits on state-owned land statewide. 

HB682/SB427: Baltimore County groundhog hunting permit exemption. 

HB956/SB582: Landowner liability exemption for allowing hunting. 

Others died in committee: 

HB562: Right-to-Repair – Farm Equipment. 

HB1002/SB800: Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Farm Electricity. 

Another died on the Senate floor on sin e die (when the assembly ended), HB1216: Urban Agriculture Grant Program. 

Four bills opposed by MDFB died in committee: 

HB11: RPS Tier 1 renewables – removal of biomass energy. 

HB387/SB268: Transfer of the regulation of pesticides from MDA to Maryland Department of the Environment. 

HB596/SB783: Environmental rights – Constitutional Amendment. 

HB798: Community Healthy Air Act. 

Bills on the Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (HB496/SB275) passed but were amended to exempt employers of less than 15 employees and employees who work less than 680 hours annually. 

John Torres, executive director, said, “The real power of associations, such as Farm Bureau, comes from the active involvement of individual members at the grassroots level in each of our 23 county Farm Bureau organizations across the state. The organization serves as a vehicle to carry the voice of our farming community to the ears of legislators and regulators in Annapolis and in Washington, D.C. Our organization continues to see success in its advocacy efforts precisely because farm families choose to actively engage in the policy-making process every single day.” 

Visit members.mdfarmbureau.com, for membership information.