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Quarterly Update September 2016

September 2016 Update

Panel Discussion: Navigating the Local Food Marketplace

The Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), in conjunction with the Maryland Farm Bureau, hosted “Navigating the ‘Local Food’ Marketplace” in July. Scheduled in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Buy Local challenge week, the event was designed to help connect local food buyers with local producers in an effort to create more opportunities for local sellers beyond farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture ventures.

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After a networking reception featuring local wine, pulled pork, and other locally-sourced snacks, ALEI’s Sarah Everhart opened with a discussion on the popularity of the local food movement and the legal standards for labeling food as local. Everhart described the variety of ALEI legal resources available to the agriculture community, found primarily on the ALEI website. Stone Slade of MDA followed with a description of the Maryland’s Best program, a marketing program aimed at promoting the sale of locally-grown Maryland products. Slade explained the program’s past success and future goals.

The evening continued with a panel discussion of buyers, including: Chef Jordan Lloyd of the Bartlett Pear Inn; institutional buyer for public schools Beth Brewster of Caroline County Public School; local food distributor Ed Bush of Teddy Bear Fresh; and on-farm market owner Kelly Jackson of Emily’s Produce. All the buyers told attendees why they buy local foods, the types of products they are looking for, and why their customers want to buy locally-sourced foods. Jackson explained that her customers are seeking locally grown foods because they want a relationship or connection with how the foods they eat are grown.

Following the buyers’ panel, a panel of three producers of locally grown foods—Tim Devine of Barren Island Oysters; Kristen Nickerson of Langenfelder Pork; and Judy Crow of Crow Vineyards—shared their experiences breaking into the local food market. The producers agreed that a successful marketing strategy for local foods should include an explanation of the operation. “You have to have a great story. People want to hear why you do what you do,” noted Devine.

The evening ended with a question and answer session with both panels. The conversations brought to light many issues in the local food marketplace. Given the popularity of the event and the interest expressed by several attendees, ALEI is considering repeating this event next year.

Second Annual Agriculture and Environmental Law Conference

The successful Agriculture and Environmental Law Conference is back with a new lineup of dynamic presenters and discussion topics of interest to both the farming and legal communities. Topics at the November 18, 2016 conference will include: hot issues in agriculture and environmental law; the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and water usage; alternative energy on the farm; recent developments in nutrient management regulation; agritourism and zoning compliance; and stormwater management and the Chesapeake Bay.

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Unlike other conferences hosted by a single interest group, the Agriculture and Environmental Law Conference brings agricultural, environmental, and legal professionals together to discuss the relevant issues and the network of laws regulating those issues.

The alternative energy on the farm panel, for example, will feature a Maryland dairy farmer who installed a large solar array on his family’s farm discussing his personal experiences with the regulatory process and the effect of the project on his operation. The panel will also include legal specialist Ashley Ellixson presenting on the legal matters farmers should consider when deciding whether or not to install an alternative energy project.

The ALEI team hopes the conference will evoke a lively discussion and advance the dialogue about the natural resource protection laws which affect Maryland’s farmers. State lawmakers are invited to attend so that they can hear from the panelists and attendees on these important topics. The conference is geared toward members of the agriculture community, including farmers, agricultural and environmental attorneys, regulators, agriculture professionals, environmental associations, and elected officials.

Nutrient Management Continuing Learning Education Credits are available for attending the conference. Visit the conference website for more information and to register.

Legal Specialists Participate in Dairy Risk Management Workshops

With the Maryland dairy economy struggling and previous nutrient management exemptions expiring on July 1, 2016, three dairy risk management workshops were held across Maryland. The workshops, held by Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Crop Insurance Education Program, covered financial risk management information, an update on the manure management requirements starting this winter, and a farm succession planning discussion.

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The workshops were held July 11 in Elkton, MD, July 12 in Boonesboro, MD, and July 14 in McHenry, MD. The University of Maryland Extension hosted the workshops with sponsorships from Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corp. (MARBIDCO), and the Maryland Farm Bureau.

The workshops covered the state of the dairy economy, an update on nutrient management regulations, financial assistance available, and financial considerations in a tough economy. ALEI’s contribution to the workshops was covering basic farm transition and succession planning considerations and bankruptcy basics with Ashley Ellixson at the Elkton and Boonesboro workshops and Paul Goeringer at the McHenry workshop.

Other presenters were from the University of Maryland’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Penn State University, Maryland Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Credit, and MARBIDCO.

Materials from the workshop are available online.

ALEI Evaluation Now Online

We want to hear from you! ALEI is launching an online program evaluation to help the program meet the needs of the Maryland agricultural community. The assessment is designed to take only 10 minutes and will assist the program to determine legal issues to focus on in the coming year and best forms to present information on those top needs. The evaluation is available online at http://go.umd.edu/ALEIEval.  Please take a moment and let ALEI know what you think.

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