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Issue Position: Protecting Family Farms

Issue Position

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Since taking office, the O'Malley-Brown administration has fought to preserve our farmlands--fully funding Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) and putting 263 farms on 32,800 acres of land into preservation. Governor O'Malley is investing in the future of agriculture by supporting young farmers and start-up enterprises and implementing initiatives such as cover crops and the energy audit program to help sustain our farmers while protecting our environment.

Governor O'Malley has been a champion for our poultry and dairy farmers lobbying the federal government for increased funding during difficult times--securing $5.8 million last year from the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program--and ensuring that the EPA holds Maryland Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to the same standards as other states. The Governor acted quickly to provide relief for poultry famers impacted by this year's blizzards.

Recognizing the great importance of the equine industry, Governor O'Malley expanded MALPF to include a broader array of Equine activities, dedicated $100 annually from slots revenues for purses and breeders incentives and led the fight to keep the 134-year-old tradition of the Preakness Stakes and other racing facilities in Maryland

Building on his open space investments, Governor O'Malley created the nation's first of its kind, AgPrint--an interactive site that maps farmland in Maryland--helping to identify areas of critical importance. While progress has been made, our farmers are facing new challenges that they never have before--challenges that Governor O'Malley will continue to fight in order to ensure the vitality of our state's strongest tradition.
O'Malley-Brown: Delivering Results

Protecting Our Family Farms

* Since taking office, the O'Malley-Brown administration has fully funded the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) putting 263 farms on 32,800 acres of land into preservation.

* Governor O'Malley has contacted the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that Maryland CAFO's are held to the same standards--not different ones--as producers in other states.

Promoting Environmentally Friendly Farming Practices

* Recognizing that our farmers are also some of our greatest environmental stewards, Governor O'Malley allocated $15.3 million in FY2011 for our farmers to plant cover crops--one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to prevent runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

* Last year, Governor O'Malley and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak signed a new agreement reauthorizing Maryland's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The program offers incentives to farmers who take environmentally sensitive cropland out of production for 10 to 15 years and plant streamside buffers, protect erodible land or establish wetlands to protect local streams.

* In 2008, Governor O'Malley led the effort for the creation of the Energy Audit Program to help our farmers save on utility costs and reduce environmental waste.

Investing in the Future of Agriculture

* Governor O'Malley invested $2.75 million in 2009 into MARBIDCO--the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation--in order to support young farmers who are trying to buy or lease farmland, and start-up enterprises that need help with rural business financing.

* Recognizing the numerous benefits of buying locally grown and produced products, Governor O'Malley has continually supported the "Buy Local" campaign.

* Under Governor O'Malley's leadership the Jane Lawton Farm to School Program was initiated, creating a partnership between our farmers and school districts. To date, more than 30 farmers have joined the program providing our children with access to healthy, locally grown products.

Supporting Our Equine Industry

* Governor O'Malley led the fight to secure as much as $100 million annually from slots revenue for purses and breeders incentives.

* After providing the equine industry with extra support by defining equine activity as agriculture in 2009, Governor O'Malley continued his efforts by expanding the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation's acceptable uses of preserved properties to include a broader array of equine activities.

* In order to keep the 134 year old tradition of the Preakness Stakes and other racing facilities and names in our state, Governor O'Malley signed emergency legislation authorizing the purchase or condemnation of these sites.

* With support from the horse industry, Governor O'Malley signed legislation that increased the assessment imposed on commercial equine feed sold in the state from $2 to $6 per ton--providing the MHIB with its main source of funding and prohibiting specified funds from reverting to the General Fund.

Fighting for Our Dairy Farmers

* In order to help our farmers during the dairy crisis, Governor O'Malley joined with other Governors to encourage the federal government to offer temporary relief from payment for U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency loans. He also signed onto a proposal to increase federal funding to the dairy support program by $350 million in FY2010 in order to improve farm milk prices.

* Governor O'Malley led the fight for increased payments from the USDA's Milk Income Loss Contract program securing Maryland Dairy Farmers $5.8 million in program funds last year.

* Governor O'Malley wants to make sure that our farmers have the same opportunities as other farmers do in neighboring states. He signed legislation to expand the pilot farmstead cheese program and continued his support of on-farm pasteurized milk processing operations.

Protecting Our Poultry Farmers

* Because of Governor O'Malley's request for an expedited review process, Maryland has become the first state in the country to have final, EPA-approved New Source Review requirements, which allow new construction to proceed under assurance that farmers will be in compliance with EPA standards.

* Under the leadership of Governor O'Malley, teams of technical experts are available to help farmers with environmental issues. These rapid response teams respond to water quality complaints and make available existing technology and financial assistance to avoid delay in identifying and resolving the issues.

* With Governor O'Malley's leadership, the Maryland Environmental Services was provided funding to develop an Anaerobic Digester that would provide an alternative means to manage poultry litter and food waste in an environmentally safe way.

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