A key mission of the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) is to identify the legal needs of Maryland’s farm families and create educational resources designed to meet those needs.
Recently, the University of Maryland Extension (UME) conducted a series of agricultural needs assessment surveys, collecting data from 16 counties in Maryland’s eastern shore and western-northern region. In the category of industry viability and concerns, early survey results show respondents ranked regulations and legislation as their most important concern. One Dorchester county farmer noted, “regulation from state and federal government is increasing [so we] must be proactive and involved. “
The shared concern among survey respondents highlights an important question, “How can farmers influence the regulations seen as highly important to the industry’s viability?” While there are no absolutes in answering this question, lessening confusion about how our local and state government systems work, and how to become involved, is a good beginning.
ALEI members work to reduce this confusion by sharing resources and information via videos, blog posts, and information on our website. One such resource is the video from Paul Goeringer, Extension Legal Specialist entitled, “What is a Law?” This video gives a detailed yet concise explanation on the process of how agencies develop regulations, how you can get involved, and ways to stay informed.
Another resource, the Maryland Risk Management Education Blog, which ALEI members regularly contribute to, strives to inform its audience of open comment periods for relevant regulations and provide resources to unbiased information concerning proposed regulation. A recent post, contributed by Sarah Everhart, ALEI Senior Legal Specialist, outlines the difference between a regulation and a law and details how operators can participate in the adoption of laws and regulations. This spring, Everhart will provide a video on how to participate in the local land use zoning and planning process.
ALEI also provides a variety of videos, publications, trainings, and workshops to inform Maryland farmers about current laws and regulations, and strategies to stay compliant. Explore our website at http://umaglaw.org/ .