ANNAPOLIS – Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill on Tuesday that will move the state’s seafood and aquaculture marketing program from the Department of Natural Resources back to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. House Bill 120 was submitted by the Agriculture Department, with strong support from the state’s watermen and seafood industry. The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously.
“This bill is an important step toward recognizing the bond between farmers and watermen,” said Governor Hogan. “As Marylanders, we all know that Maryland is home to the best seafood, and with a strong marketing plan from the Department of Agriculture, Maryland will be open to new markets and opportunities for our watermen.”
The bill creates new “Maryland’s Best Seafood” branding for locally produced products. The industry will also benefit from established relationships with distributors, restaurants, grocery chains and other institutions, in addition to the department’s experience in promoting products to international buyers through the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA).
Along with the marketing program, HB120 will move approximately $190,000 in special funds from fees collected on commercial watermen and processing licenses by the Department of Natural Resources. The department will pursue further funding from USDA and other grants to support the new program, as well.
“House Bill 120 is a common sense solution that has a consensus of support from the industry and the state,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Our department’s marketing program has made great strides in supporting and promoting local agriculture products, and I am confident that we can have the same success with the state’s seafood and aquaculture industry.”
Governor Hogan signed two more departmental bills into law Tuesday. These bills include:
• HB 130 – Maryland Wine and Grape Promotion Fund: Creates a more efficient review and approval process for applications submitted to the Maryland Wine & Grape Promotion Fund.
• HB 155 – Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Fund (MALPF), Easement Termination: Creates a more efficient review and approval process for termination of a MALPF easement.
Written testimony for all three departmental bills is available on the department’s website.