[photo, Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland] Since agriculture is vital to Maryland's economy, the main purpose of the Department of Agriculture is to help farmers produce high-quality commodities. To this end, the Department eradicates disease in livestock and poultry, controls insect pests and weeds which threaten field crops, inspects seeds and fertilizers to ensure maximum yields, and disseminates market reports and statistics to help farmers plan farm production. The Department also protects the environment by regulating the use of pesticides, implementing sound soil conservation methods, and preserving valuable agricultural land. To protect consumers, the Department inspects and grades agricultural commodities, oversees the practice of veterinary medicine, and inspects the weighing and packaging of a wide range of products. In addition, the Department promotes Maryland agriculture, and seeks out new markets.

Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland, June 2004. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


[photo, Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland] Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401 - 8960

The chief executive officer of the Department is the Secretary of Agriculture who is appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. Responsible for daily operations, the Deputy Secretary is appointed by the Secretary with the Governor's approval. The Secretary of Agriculture also appoints the State Chemist, the State Veterinarian, and the Chief of Weights and Measures.

Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland, June 2004. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

The Secretary of Agriculture serves on the Governor's Executive Council; the BayStat Subcabinet; the Governor's Council on the Chesapeake Bay (Governor's Chesapeake Bay Cabinet); the Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs; and the Smart Growth Subcabinet, and chairs the Governor's Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture; the Animal Waste Technology Fund Advisory Committee; and the Renewable Fuels Incentive Board. The Secretary also serves on the Board of Directors, Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation; the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Board; the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation; the Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee; the Climate Change Commission; the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays; the Chesapeake Bay Trust; the State Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council; the Maryland Food Center Authority; the Maryland Horse Industry Board; the Maryland Integrated Map Executive Committee; the Invasive Plants Advisory Committee; the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee for Minority Affairs; the Council on Open Data; Leadership Team, Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature; the Pesticide Advisory Committee; the Rural Legacy Board; the Rural Maryland Council; the Scenic and Wild Rivers Review Board; the Seafood Marketing Advisory Commission; the State Soil Conservation Committee; the Spay/Neuter Advisory Board; the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission; and the Board of Regents, University System of Maryland.

Within the Office of Secretary are the principal counsel and offices for communications, emergency preparedness and response, information technology, and intergovernmental relations (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-101 through 2-108).


Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401 - 8960

The Office of Administrative Services began as the Business Office in 1979, and reformed under its present name by 1980. The Office oversees central services, fiscal services, personnel services, and the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.


The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation started in 1977 (Chapter 784, Acts of 1977). The Foundation implements the Agricultural Land Preservation Program.

Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The Program's intent is to preserve productive agricultural land and woodland in Maryland, provide for the continued production of food and fiber, curb the extent of urban sprawl, and protect agricultural land and woodland as open space. The Program depends on the cooperation of county governments, which appoint local agricultural preservation advisory boards. Participation in the Program is voluntary on the part of landowners.

By agreement with the Foundation, landowners may donate or sell easements that create an agricultural preservation district in which subdivision and development are restricted forever. The creation of such a district protects normal agricultural activities and enables landowners to make application to sell a development rights easement. Based upon the availability of funds allocated by the State and counties, the Foundation may acquire easements according to a competitive formula (defined by law) and subject to local recommendation and appraisal. Easements thus acquired are perpetual, although those approved by the Board of Public Works before Sept. 30, 2004 may be terminated after twenty-five years if it is determined that profitable farming of any kind is no longer feasible on the property. By gift, devise, bequest, or grant, the Foundation also may receive easements in gross or other rights to restrict the use of agricultural land and woodland. State funding for the Program comes from a share of revenues collected from the Real Estate Transfer Tax and the Agricultural Transfer Tax.

With other State programs such as Rural Legacy and GreenPrint, and local land preservation programs, Maryland has preserved 558,914 acres as of June 30, 2011. On its own, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation has acquired over 2,102 permanent agricultural easements on 285,902 acres as of June 30, 2013.


[photo, Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. and Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland] Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401 - 8960

In 1973, the Office of Marketing, Animal Industries, and Consumer Services originated as the Division of Animal Industries within the Department of Agriculture. By 1978, the Division was renamed the Office of Animal Health and, by 1980, the Office of Animal Health and Consumer Services. It reorganized as the Office of Food Safety and Consumer Services in 1992 and received its present name in March 1997.

Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. & Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2012. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. and Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland] Five sections are directed by the Office: Animal Health; Food Quality Assurance; Marketing and Agribusiness Development; U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, Maryland Field Office; and Weights and Measures. The Office also is assisted by the Maryland Agricultural Fair Board; the Maryland Horse Industry Board; the Maryland Organic Certification Advisory Committee; and the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. & Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2013. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Horse farm, Davidsonville, Maryland] MARYLAND HORSE INDUSTRY BOARD
The Maryland Horse Industry Board began as the State Board of Inspection of Horse Riding Stables in 1968 (Chapter 474, Acts of 1968). It was made part of the Department of Licensing and Regulation in 1970 (Chapter 402, Acts of 1970). The Board transferred to the Department of Agriculture in 1980 (Chapter 618, Acts of 1980), and assumed its present name in October 1998 (Chapter 416, Acts of 1998).

Horse farm, Davidsonville, Maryland, August 2004. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners dates to 1894 (Chapter 273, Acts of 1894). The Board examines candidates for licenses to practice veterinary medicine in the State and judges their qualifications. Annually, it registers veterinarians and at least every two years inspects veterinary hospitals (Chapter 58, Acts of 2008). Upon complaints of illegal or unethical practices or sanitary violations, the Board may conduct hearings and pass judgment upon the charges. Court proceedings may be instituted by the Board against persons engaged in illegal practices.

The Board has seven members. They are appointed to five-year terms by the Governor upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and with Senate advice and consent. Authorization for the Board continues until July 1, 2021 (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-301 through 2-313).

[photo, Animal Health Laboratory, 1840 Rosemont Ave., Frederick, Maryland]


Duties of the Animal Health Section began in 1884 when the position of veterinary inspector was created to suppress disease in livestock and prevent epidemics (Chapter 157, Acts of 1884). Today, the Section safeguards the health of horses, food-producing livestock, and poultry, and works to control and eradicate diseases that economically affect producers or pose a threat to humans (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-503).

Animal Health Laboratory, 1840 Rosemont Ave., Frederick, Maryland, August 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

New diseases which could be transported into Maryland from another state or country are monitored by the Section. To provide diagnostic services and assist veterinarians and farmers, the Section also runs two animal health diagnostic laboratories in Frederick and Salisbury. When necessary, testing and investigations are conducted on farms.

[photo, Grain silos, Wye Mills, Maryland]


Origins of Food Quality Assurance trace to the Field Inspection Service that functioned when the Department of Agriculture was created in 1972. The Service was one part of the Division of Inspection and Regulation by 1975. It was replaced by 1981 with the Grading Services and Egg Inspection Section of the Office of Animal Health and Consumer Services. In 1992, the Grading Services and Egg Inspection Section merged with the Grain Laws Section to form Egg Inspection, Grading, and Grain. It was renamed in 1997 as Grading Services, Egg Inspection, and Grain Laws. With the addition of the Organic Certification Program, it assumed its present name in December 2004.

Grain silos, Wye Mills, Maryland, September 2007. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Food Quality Assurance oversees four separate programs of inspection, certification, and licensing.

Egg Inspection Program. This program enforces the Maryland Egg Law. Inspections performed at the processor, wholesale, food service and retail levels ensure that eggs sold in Maryland comply with standards for quality, size, wholesomeness, labeling and record-keeping. Annually, wholesalers and packers of shell eggs must register with the Program.

Enforcement of the Salmonella enteritidis regulations jointly adopted by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is coordinated by the Program. Through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Egg Law controlling the movement of inedible and restricted eggs also is enforced by the Program. Restricted eggs are those not suitable for consumption due to cracks, blood spots, leaks, or other problems (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 4-301 through 4-312).

Grading Services Program. The Program conducts a voluntary certification program for producers and processors of numerous agricultural commodities, including poultry, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grain. Samples of agricultural commodities are evaluated for conformity with U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for quality, size, labeling, packaging, and production practices. Graders supervise the official identification of commodities meeting the established criteria (Code Agricultural Article, secs. 10-501 through 10-909).

Grain Laws Program. The Program licenses grain dealers, as defined by law. The practice dates at least to 1888 when licenses were granted to Baltimore grain brokers (Chapter 416, Acts of 1888). Now, grain dealers annually must meet financial and insurance requirements. Each year, the Section also publishes the Directory of Grain Dealers.

Organic Certification Program. In July 1990, the Department of Agriculture was authorized to certify Maryland growers and handlers through the Organic Certification Program (Chapter 190, Acts of 1990; Code Agriculture Article, secs. 10-1401 through 10-1403). In 2002, Maryland's Program was accredited to certify that products were grown according to organic standards of the federal Organic Foods Production Act, 7 (U.S.C. sec. 6501 et seq.). As part of the certification process, the Department inspects producers and processors to see that they conform to organic standards.


[photo, Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. and Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland] Marketing and Agribusiness Development began as the Division of Marketing when the Department of Agriculture formed in 1972. By 1983, the Division was renamed the Division of Agricultural Development and Marketing and, by 1985, the Office of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation. In 1987, it became the Office of Marketing and Agricultural Development. It reorganized as Marketing in 1992, reverted to Marketing and Agricultural Development in 1995, and received its current name in July 2006.

Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. & Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2013. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. and Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland] Programs under Marketing and Agribusiness Development include projects to improve quality and enhance presentation of agricultural commodities to the consumer; international marketing; and a consumer marketing information program (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 10-101 through 10-204).

This office annually publishes the Maryland Farmers' Market Directory. For Maryland farmers, it also issues a calendar and a quarterly crop insurance newsletter. For consumers, it maintains the on-line Hay and Straw Directory, and Maryland's Best, a guide to Maryland's local products, including fruits and vegetables, seafood, wine, and much more.

Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. & Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2012. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. and Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland]

With the State Department of Education, Maryland's farm products are promoted for use in school lunch programs through the Jane Lawton Farm-to-School Program (Code Agriculture Article, sec. 10-1601).

Under Marketing and Agribusiness Development are Agribusiness Development; Agricultural Mediation; International Marketing; and National Marketing.

Baltimore Farmers' Market, Holliday St. & Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland, August 2012. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Tractor pull event, Cecil County Fair, Fair Hill, Maryland] AGRIBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Formed in 1996, the Agribusiness Development Program assists persons starting or expanding agriculture-related businesses. Individualized help is available to develop business plans, obtain financing, meet State and federal regulatory requirements, and market products.

Tractor pull event, Cecil County Fair, Fair Hill, Maryland, July 2000. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

International Marketing opens up world markets to Maryland farmers through technical export assistance. It identifies and evaluates export opportunities, and organizes trade missions abroad to showcase Maryland products.

Formerly Domestic Marketing, National Marketing adopted its present name in 2005.


[photo, Display, Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland] The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, Maryland Field Office originated as the Statistical Reporting Service in the mid-19th century and became the Agricultural Statistics Service in 1986. In August 2005, it adopted its current name in accordance with nationwide practice.

Display, Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland, May 2013. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Pink Lady apples, Thurmont, Maryland] The Maryland Field Office collects, summarizes, and publishes data relating to the production and marketing of agricultural products, agriculture prices and income, and agriculture and agribusiness. State statistics generally are available for acreage, yield, and production of major field crops, vegetables, fruits, livestock, and poultry; and monthly and seasonal or annual average prices, farm expenditures, and labor. For some commodities the Office also compiles county statistics.

Publications issued by the Office include: Maryland Agricultural Statistics (annually); Maryland & Delaware Agri-Facts (monthly); Weekly Crop Progress & Condition Report (April-November); Weekly Delmarva Broiler Report; and the Maryland Grain & Livestock Report (every Friday).

Pink Lady apples, Thurmont, Maryland, October 2014. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.


In 1641, the first Maryland law to regulate measures was enacted (Chapter 2, Acts of 1641). At that time, the county sheriff was entrusted with the responsibility. When the Department of Agriculture formed in 1972, the Office of Weights and Measures began its work under the Division of Inspection and Regulation. By 1975, the Office reformed as the Weights and Measures Section. The Section maintains and safeguards the State's primary standards, as well as secondary standards and equipment, for the enforcement of Maryland's Weights and Measures Law. The Section's Metrology Laboratory provides a wide variety of highly sophisticated measurements and calibrations in mass, volume, length, and thermometry.

The Section supervises the use and production of weighing and measuring devices, weights and measures, and packaged commodities offered for sale, sold, or in use in the State. This supervision extends to the methodology used to obtain accurate measurement and provides a means for value comparisons for consumers.

State laws for ensuring accuracy, equity, and the prevention of fraud in the sale and measurement of quantities, commodities, goods, or services are administered and enforced by the Section. In addition, the Section also licenses and tests personnel who determine butterfat content for dairies and milk cooperatives and personnel who calibrate farm milk tanks (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 11-101 through 11-509).


Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401 - 8960

The Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management originated in 1972 as the Division of Plant Industries. It became the Division of Plant Industries and Pest Management in 1980, and the Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management in 1984. The Office reorganized in 1987 as the Office of Plant Industries and Resource Conservation and, in 1990, resumed its earlier name.

Programs concerned with plants, plant pests, pest management, and pesticides are supervised by the Office. It also coordinates these programs with local, State and federal officials. In addition, the Office manages cooperative agreements with local, county, State and federal agencies.

Under the Office are six sections: Forest Pest Management; Mosquito Control; Pesticide Regulation; Plant Protection and Weed Management; State Chemist; and Turf and Seed. The Office also is aided by the Pesticide Advisory Committee.


The Forest Pest Management Section began by 1975 as the Forest Pest Management Program and the Gypsy Moth Control Program within the Pest Management Section of the Division of Plant Industries. In 1987, Forest Pest Management and Gypsy Moth Control merged to form the present Section. The Section protects forests and landscape trees by eradicating or controlling certain insect (particularly gypsy moth) infestations and disease. The Section also monitors forest health.

Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program. The gypsy moth is the most destructive forest pest of the eastern United States. It harms trees in wooded residential areas, parks, and recreation areas. Consequently, the moth is the subject of a State and a national quarantine program. This pest has been present in Maryland since 1971. Despite an active suppression program, the gypsy moth continues threatening unprotected trees in certain areas. The Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program works to manage the gypsy moth. Coordinated by the Forest Pest Management Section, the Program is a joint effort by local and State agencies and the U.S. Forest Service. Branch offices of the Forest Pest Management Section are located in Cumberland, Denton, Forest Hill, and Frederick.


Functions of the Mosquito Control Section date back to 1961 when a program of mosquito control was administered by the State Board of Agriculture. Today, the Section provides statewide mosquito control services through a cooperatively funded program. Branch offices are located in Riverdale, Salisbury, and Hollywood, Maryland. Environmentally compatible methods of pest management are used to control mosquitoes. In addition to implementing control measures, the Section monitors the environmental impact of the program, develops new control methods, and conducts epidemiological investigations of mosquito-borne diseases (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-401 through 5-405).


Administration of the Pesticide Applicators Law started in 1973 under the Division of Entomology. By 1975, the work continued under the Pest Management Section. A separate Pesticide Applicators Law Section formed in 1980 and became the Pesticide Regulation Section in 1987.

The Section regulates the sale, use, storage, and disposal of pesticides in Maryland. It licenses businesses engaged in commercial application of pesticides; trains and certifies commercial and private pesticide applicators; and enforces the Pesticide Applicators Law and Regulations. The Section also provides technical advice on the use of pesticides, and enforces federal laws and regulations governing pesticide use.

Since 1993, the Section also inspects and collects empty pesticide containers for recycling. In 2013, about eighteen tons were collected.

The Chief is the State's authority on matters relating to pesticide use and application (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-201 through 5-211).


In June 1997, the Plant Protection and Weed Management Section formed when the Plant Protection Section merged with the Weed Control Section. Programs for plant protection and weed control were part of the Division of Plant Industries when the Department of Agriculture began in 1972. The Plant Protection and Weed Management Section administers programs for nursery inspection, plant protection and quarantine, integrated pest management, and noxious weed control.

Plant Protection. The Section oversees programs for certified plant production, inspection and registration of honey bee colonies, and implementation of the Interstate Pest Control Compact. The Section serves as the State authority on plant pests and agricultural quarantines. With other State and federal regulatory agencies, it also serves as liaison for the Department (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-301 through 5-314, 5-501 through 5-507, 5-701 through 5-716, 5-801 through 5-805, 9-301 through 9-307, 9-601 through 9-606).

Weed Management. The Maryland Noxious Weed Law is administered by the Section. This law requires landowners or those who possess and manage land infested with Johnsongrass, shattercane, or thistles to eradicate or control these noxious weeds by practices prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The noxious weed control program helps individuals manage noxious weeds through their own efforts and through a cooperative agreement between the State and participating counties. The Department encourages individuals to file a Noxious Weed Control Agreement, outlining methods and procedures for controlling noxious weeds on their land. Regulatory action may be taken against those who fail to manage noxious weeds. The Section also investigates complaints of multiflora rose-infestations on or near land used for agricultural production.

The Secretary of Agriculture has authority to declare other weeds noxious and place them under a control program. The Section Chief serves as the State's authority on weed control matters (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 9-401 through 9-405, 9-701 through 9-705).


The office of State Agricultural Chemist was created in 1847 to help farmers rejuvenate worn-out tobacco land (Chapter 249, Acts of 1847). The Chemist analyzed soil throughout the State, as well as marl and other mineral or vegetable deposits applied as fertilizers, and lectured and publicized his findings. During the guano boom of the 1840s and 1850s, a Guano Inspector also analyzed all guano imported through Baltimore to ensure that farmers got that for which they paid. Modern equivalents of such duties are carried out by the State Chemist Section.

The Section began under the Office of Animal Health and Consumer Services and moved in 1987 to the Office of Plant Industries and Resource Conservation (now Plant Industries and Pest Management). The Section samples and chemically tests and analyzes commercial fertilizers, feeds, pesticides, soil conditioners, composts, and liming materials sold in the State. The Section registers and examines the labels of these products as well. It determines if products conform to standards established under Maryland laws governing quality, contents, and labeling. These measures protect the consumer and the dealer from unscrupulous or careless manufacturers.

To implement the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Section works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, Section chemists analyze meat and toxicology samples for the Office of Marketing, Animal Industries, and Consumer Services; test fruits, vegetables, commercial feeds, and soils for chemical residues; and make other determinations as required by the Department (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-101 through 5-114, 6-101 through 6-117, 6-201 through 6-221, 6-301 through 6-311).


As early as 1888, the General Assembly enacted legislation to protect farmers from unscrupulous seed salesmen making fraudulent claims. By 1912, the Seed Inspection Service formed to enforce the Maryland Seed Law. The Service reorganized in 1972 as the Turf and Seed Section within the Department of Agriculture. Today, the Section works to assure the availability of sufficient quantities of certified turf and seed. It directs and conducts certification programs by which turf and seed are produced to meet standards of purity, variety, germination, and other quality factors. From the evidence of field inspections or laboratory analysis, the Section rejects seed or sod not meeting certification standards.

To help consumers determine what to purchase, the Section also regulates the labeling of seed and sod at the time of marketing. A State testing laboratory is operated for both service and regulatory testing to assure compliance with label claims. The regulatory phase involves inspection, testing, reporting results, and corrective actions for each turf and seed lot found not to comply with provisions of the Turf Grass Law or the Seed Law (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 9-101 through 9-110, 9-201 through 9-214).


Wayne A. Cawley, Jr. Building, 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401 - 8960

The Office of Resource Conservation began in 1985 as the Office of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation within the Department of Agriculture. Restructured as the Office of Plant Industries and Resource Conservation in 1987, it received its current name in 1989.

Through agricultural soil conservation and water quality programs, the Office works to control soil erosion and agricultural nonpoint-source water pollution. The Office coordinates its efforts with other Department programs and with county, State and federal agencies. This includes managing interagency cooperative agreements. For Chesapeake Bay Agricultural Programs, the Office serves as agency liaison and facilitates State and local agricultural involvement in tributary strategies.

Five sections carry out the work of the Office: Nutrient Management; Program Planning and Development; Resource Conservation Grants; Resource Conservation Operations; and the Watershed Implementation Program.


Nutrient management concerns soil fertilization and determining the amount, placement, timing, and application of animal waste, commercial fertilizer, sludge, or other plant nutrients to prevent pollution and maintain productivity.

Formerly part of Program Planning and Development, Nutrient Management became a separate office in July 2000. Nutrient Management oversees implementation of the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 (Chapter 324, Acts of 1998) which mandates nutrient management on Maryland farms. To protect and improve the health of Maryland waterways, the Act established strategies for reducing nutrient levels in streams and rivers feeding the Chesapeake Bay.

Nutrient Management Program. The Program helps individual farmers plan nutrient management of animal waste, sludge, and commercial fertilizers. It also trains, certifies, and licenses persons who provide this service.

Nutrient Management Plans. Maryland farmers submit nutrient management plans to the Program which specify how much fertilizer, manure, or other nutrients may safety be applied to crops, balancing increased crop yields with keeping excess nutrients out of waterways. By March 1 each year, farmers update their nutrient management plans with annual implementation reports, which summarize the previous year's nutrient application. Program staff examine and analyze the plans and annual reports, and conduct on-farm audits and inspections to ensure farmers are in compliance with nutrient management requirements.

Nutrient Management is assisted by the Nutrient Management Advisory Committee.


Organized in 1989, Program Planning and Development supports the State Soil Conservation Committee and the Office of Resource Conservation by planning, developing, and coordinating policy, programs, and public information. Soil and water conservation is coordinated with soil conservation districts, and agencies and organizations with related programs.

Agricultural Water Management Program. Program Planning and Development helps public drainage associations maintain agricultural drainage through cost-share maintenance and interagency review of plans for construction, reconstruction, operation, and maintenance.


Resource Conservation Grants started in 1989 as the Conservation Grants Section of the Department of Agriculture. In 1992, the Section was renamed Resource Protection Incentives, and in 1994 received its present name. Resource Conservation Grants administers the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program.

Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program. Established in 1983, the Program provides grants to farmers to protect their farm's natural resources, adopt sustainable agricultural practices, and comply with governmental regulation. The Program helps farmers pay the costs of best land and water management practices to control pollution and improve water quality. These practices include the construction of animal waste storage facilities, grassed waterways, sediment basins, and spring developments.

To accelerate Maryland's efforts to reduce nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay, farmers receive cost-share grants to plant cover crops in the fall. Cover crops, such as rye, wheat, and barley, prevent soil erosion, recycle plant nutrients left over from the summer crop, and reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus running into the Bay over the winter. Farmers also may receive cost-share grants to transport poultry and livestock manure out of the Chesapeake Bay watershed; hire consultants to update their mandated nutrient management plans; and enroll in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, which pays farmers to take environmentally sensitive land out of crop production for 10 to 15 years.

In FY2013, the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program awarded to farmers $26.3 million in grants to install 2,433 projects on their farms to control soil erosion, reduce nutrient runoff, and improve water quality in local waterways and Chesapeake Bay.


Resource Conservation Operations began in 1989 as an outgrowth of the Soil Conservation Administration. It reorganized as Resource Management Services in 1992 and resumed its earlier name in 1994.

State resources that support soil and water conservation programs on agricultural land are administered by Resource Conservation Operations. This section guides and assists twenty-four soil conservation districts and gives financial, administrative and technical support for conservation programs. Resource Conservation Operations also provides technical assistance to farmers and landowners on best management practices to control soil erosion and agricultural nonpoint source pollution.


In July 2014, the Watershed Implementation Program began under the Office of Resource Conservation.

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