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Posted 8/29/23

Dept. of Ag in El Salvador

The Maryland Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Maryland Department of Environment recently conducted a trade mission to El Salvador to explore …

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Dorchester business briefs

Dept. of Ag in El Salvador

The Maryland Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Maryland Department of Environment recently conducted a trade mission to El Salvador to explore opportunities and initiatives to strengthen agriculture in both Maryland and Central America. The mission was coordinated through Maryland International Ag in conjunction with the Maryland International Agriculture and Environment Conference being held in October.  

During the visit, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks and MDE Secretary Serena McIlwain visited farmers struggling to produce culturally important red beans due to the pests moving into the area in part due to climate change. Discussion around this issue took place with the Minister of Agriculture about ways to provide technical assistance and research partners.

Additionally, the delegation visited coffee farmers to learn more about the ways they are rebuilding their operations after the gang violence that plagued the small nation. The meeting centered on production methods that are good for climate, biodiversity and the environment.

As a result of this mission, MDA and MDE will seek opportunities to assist small-scale farmers to market their products, especially in collaboration with Salvadoran-American businesses in Maryland. 

For more information about the recent trade mission and the October conference, visit

UMES farm bus tour 

The University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension’s 2023 Small Farm Bus Tour will head south from Sept. 6-7 for stops in Virginia and North Carolina. The tour, organized out of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Small Farm Program, will showcase farming operations that serve as examples of direct-to-consumer marketing, sustainable agricultural practices and alternative crop production.

Some of the tour stops include Twisted Willow Farm (Elizabeth City, N.C.), Nadeau Farms (Elizabeth City, N.C.), Sanctuary Vineyards (Jarvisburg, N.C.), Choo Choo Farm and the Mighty Thundercloud Edible Forest (Birdsnest, Va.).

The two-day tour starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m. at the UMES campus. Registration includes bus transportation to featured farms, educational packets, light refreshments and one night hotel accommodation on Sept. 6.    

Registration is open by visiting Fees are $80 for a single registrant and $120 for a party of two. The deadline to register is Sept. 1. For special accommodations, email or call 410-621-5450 ext. 101.  

State Fair displays

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will display a wide array of the services it provides to support Maryland agriculture, producers and citizens during the Maryland State Fair, which opened Aug. 24-27. The fair takes place over three weekends, from Aug. 24 to 27, Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 and Sept. 7 to 10 at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

Throughout the fair’s duration, the department will provide various activities and displays in the Cow Palace, where visitors can expect the following highlights: 

  • 31: The Maryland’s Best program marketing staff will share products and marketing programs offered by the department. Programs include the Maryland Ice Cream Trail, Maryland’s Best and True Blue. 
  • 1: The department’s Resource Conservation section will offer a model dairy farm on display for children to see what working on a dairy farm is like and how dairy farmers protect natural resources.
  • 2 and 3: The State Chemist will show kids how to make snow in summer and provide gifts.
  • 4: The Mosquito Control section will present a display on topics like reducing mosquito populations.
  • 8: The Animal Health program will provide valuable information on how to manage the health and welfare of farm animals including vaccinations, tags and other fair show requirements. The program will also provide information on keeping animals safe during emergencies. 
  • 9: The Rural Maryland Council will share their vision of a prosperous future for rural Maryland, emphasizing thriving resources, vibrant economies, and healthy, connected communities. 
  • 10: The Weights and Measures section — which ensures equity in the marketplace between businesses and consumers — will feature a calibrated scale and volumetric standard for educational purposes.

Throughout the fair, the Maryland Horse Industry Board will be at the Horseland Tent to educate the public about Maryland’s horse industry.

The Maryland State Fair will also celebrate “Agriculture Day at the Fair” on Sept. 8. The day includes a luncheon and tour of the fairgrounds with Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks. The luncheon is by invitation only.

For more information, visit    

Caring for small businesses

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, praised Senate approval of key contracting provisions that will bolster small businesses in Maryland and nationwide as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2024 (NDAA).

Thanks to an amendment Senator Cardin authored, the bill increases the size of defense contracts available to firms that are socially and economically disadvantaged; certified to be owned by women, veterans or service-disabled veterans; or located in HUBZones.

His NDAA amendment also ensures that contract size limits are raised every five years to reflect inflation. Once enacted into law, new thresholds would rise from $4.5 million to $8 million for non-manufacturing contracts and $7 million to $10 million for manufacturing contracts.

Home repair

Governor Wes Moore on July 25 announced $4 million in grants to six jurisdictions for repairs that will enable nearly 300 homes to proceed with comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits. The funds will be deployed through a new pilot program that integrates the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s energy efficiency programs and rehabilitation programs, providing the repairs necessary to proceed with upgrades for homes deferred for health and safety reasons. 

Through the program, the department will increase the number of homes across the state that are eligible for assistance through its energy efficiency programs. Currently, 38 percent of Maryland homes assessed for energy efficiency improvements are deferred for health and safety reasons that cannot be addressed with funding from the department’s energy programs. Jurisdictions receiving awards include Allegany, Garrett, Howard and St. Mary’s counties; the city of Frederick; and the city of Baltimore.

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