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[q]

By J. Henson -- The Capital
Michael Heller, manager of the Chesapeake Bay foundation's Clagett Farm, drives a tractor around State Circle.

Politicians promise accord on agriculture issues
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer

Serenaded by schoolchildren singing of "11 fish a-swimmin' " and "12 oysters a-filterin'," and offering farm-themed gifts to match, Maryland's top three politicians pledged yesterday to work together on agricultural issues.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation - which organized yesterday's event - and other environmental groups are pushing for an increase in funding for programs that help farmers with bay-friendly practices.

To draw attention to the agriculture requests, the foundation arranged for several dozen children to sing to the politicians about the "12 Days of Ag-Mas." Most of the children were from the Summit School, Key School, Magothy River Middle School and Severn River Middle School.

As they sang, representatives from the group of kids gave themed gifts to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., such as smoked fish and oyster shells. All the gifts came from local farmers and watermen.

Wearing a Santa hat, Michael Heller of CBF's Clagett Farm in Prince George's County drove an orange Massey Ferguson 255 diesel tractor in front of the State House to serve as a backdrop for the stunt.

"When it comes to the bay, the most significant promise I can make is we will continue to work together," Mr. Ehrlich said during the ceremony, where he was joined by House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert.

Though the three men often have very public disagreements on issues such as legalizing slot machines, Mr. Ehrlich said their cooperation on Chesapeake Bay issues has been a highlight of the past few years. He again cited the "flush fee" passed in 2004 that helps to pay for sewer plant upgrades and other environmental programs as a successful collaboration.

"We will continue the spirit of cooperation," Mr. Ehrlich said.

Specifically, the bay foundation is asking for $120 million for agriculture programs, ranging from farm preservation to manure management. That will be one of the CBF's key requests during the General Assembly session.

"If the governor puts the money in the budget, we will keep it in," Mr. Miller said.

Will Baker, president of the Bay Ridge-based foundation, said that to save the bay, Maryland must save its farms as well.

"They are two sides to the same coin. You can't have one without the other," Mr. Baker said.

In 2004 there were 12,100 farms in Maryland on a little more than 2 million acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

----------------YEH--ONLY Another 120 MILLION------FOR farm programs---OK I guess if CBF says so------BUT,BUT, IS it used by the farm community----Look around you as you drive the roads of our great state, at the fields that abutt our road ways ----The ones that recently were harvested of thier Soybean & Corn crops---HOW many of these fields show the Winter green of COVER CROPS ----NOT many in South county----HOW about the rest of the State ?Are the fields that ajoin the secondary roads any better?----Several years ago I wrote the then Governor Glendding, a letter as to the acceptance of the Cover Crop program --His retun letter stated he was Dissapointed , but felt it would IMPROVE ----HAS IT ?---IS the 50.00 a acre incentive too low ?-----Did the PAY to stop raising Tobacco & raise grain, + plant Cover Crops after harvest, not give ENOUGH incentive ---Hard to figgure out , If I was still tilling the soil , I'd jump on this one like stink on manure -----OH WELL, who sees Run Off in the Chesapeake in mid winter anyway, only the watermen community--120 Million ---MR. farmer show me some Green on your fields---[excited][excited]
 

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I hear ya Capt George. Don't see too much green in Cecil or Kent either. Some, but not much. [q] [IS the 50.00 a acre incentive too low ?/q]

Perhaps it needs to be the Law, like the flush tax ? It's the same scenario, use the land / pollute the Bay / pay to fix it. Some farmers receive subsidies as they should. It's a matter of National Security. God forbid we would need to depend on a middle east country for food [sad], let alone oil.
Is it crack down time on Farmers and/or Politicians ?
 

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I can't find the text of the plan for paying the farmers for green crops. Obviously something is wrong with the plan or you would see green. Coming from the Ag industry, I think $50 sounds kinda low, especially with the higher fuel costs....but I haven't read the plan to know the details.
 

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Folks--

Capt. George is right, as usual. The Green $ that go out should bring green on the fields in winter. There's a problem, though, in timing the harvest of crops and getting the cover planted so it'll do some good. That's part of what we're trying to work out w/ the farm community w/ the upcoming legislation.

And yes, the reason CBF owns Clagett Farm is to keep us in touch w/ the reality of farm issues. (It was donated to us in 1982.) Michael Heller spends a lot of time on his tractor, but he works hard on Bay-friendly farm issues, at both the regional and federal levels. We use the farm for ag research (in cooperation w/ the Univ. of MD) and for school field trips (generally tied to canoe trips nearby on the Patuxent around Jug Bay).

John Page Williams
CBF Senior Naturalist
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
[q] There's a problem, though, in timing the harvest of crops and getting the cover planted so it'll do some good. That's part of what we're trying to work out w/ the farm community w/ the upcoming legislation.
[/q]
-----J P ------As I observe the grain farmer in Maryland, I see the problem that they Depend on CUSTOM HARVESTERS---The crop is ready for harvest at first frost-Soybeans---Corn even eariler ----But since they live in a Custom COMBINE Controlled WORLD, the Farmer Waits for thier turn ----AW its too late to plant cover now, I gotta buy the seed, Expencive as most is certified--Gotta disk, hook up the drill & sow ETC.-----

-----If it was me , i'd have some Guano sacks of plain ole cover grain from someones spring harvest for seed (cheap but good)--Crank up to My MODERN powerful, stereo, & heated, a/c equiped Tractor, colored Green, Red, Orange dosen't matter ---Hook up the disk with the hitch I rigged to tandem the modern rubber tired drill--Fill the hopper with seed --No Fetertlizer ness & DIsk & Drill in one shot while listening to Johnny Cash full blast ---Wether sowed in Oct Or Dec. IT Will germinate GREEN----I'll make J P happy, also SBF & the Sec. of Agriculture when he signs my Cover Crop check & my topsoil wont end up at Bloody Point----WONDER how much a Good used Massy Fergurson combine costs?-[grin]
 

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Hey George & Purdue 1--

Good question. I think George, being a man of many talents and wide experience, has put his finger on one of the important parts of the problem. I'm not the most knowledgeable CBF'er on farm issues (though not the least either), but I'll have to defer to Michael Heller (Mgr. of Clagett) or my fishing friend Tom Simpson, who is the UMD's go-to guy on farm issues. Will see what I can dig up over the next couple of days and report. Maybe Tom would like to try a bowl of Happy Harbor's chowder for lunch one day.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Best, JPW
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
John---Would Look forward to enjoying a bowl of chowder with friends, better yet a tour of the farm---I read your Supurb article on--- "Restoring the bay's great green filter"--- In last night's CAPITAL---An Excellent read !!--Conservation of soil is especilly, in critical settings is nothing new , it was taught to me as a farm Boy taking 3 hrs of Agriculture, every day for 4 years of high school, back in 49--52----Granted , I brought these school lessons, home & put them to use ---Many were new & not practiced by my neighboring farmers---Contour farming, cover crops ,buffer zones , crop rotation ETC. were unheard of in the early 50's---Heck, Hybred corn use wasen't accepted untill 47-48---
------One of the problems, I see in the farmer not taking advantage of the Cover Crop program is that the GRAIN cover crop , being a green & thriving carpet, may be a difficult thing to destroy when using the aparent choice of Maryland farmers THE NO TILL concept----To make full use of this Carpet it should be plowed under ---A aparent Tool of the PAST---NO Till scratching of the soil would leave Smattering portions of Growing grain in the new Spring seedbead----
-------If I was still working the soil --I would lobby the state to Allow Harvest of the PAY FOR cover crop--(now it requires turning under)-----This would give me Encentive, to make sure ALL my acres were planted over during the winter---Using Early harvest grain --Rye or Barley, I could then plant 80 day corn or soybeans for harvest in the fall---TWO crops rather than One ---The state's happy, the SBF is happy, The CHESAPEAKE is happy---My topsoil is happy, My cattle were happy grazing green all winter , controlled by a simple Electric fence rotatation, to control over grazing ---& maybe i'd made a buck-----Oh WEll---[grin]
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
---JP---Matt--Scotty, Reds Don't let this disscusion Die----Happy New Year---[wink]
 

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I echo some of the sentiments stated on the other posts. Accountability, public scrutiny, don't throw money at something just to say you are doing something. To start with, I don't think the CBF going to Annapolis is "agriculture" going to Annapolis.

To be perfectly honest I have a real hard time understanding the purpose of the research farm, or more appropriately the money that must go towards it. Academia loves to get money for research, even if it is already done. If part of the problem is research on water qaulity issues, there are land grant colleges across the nation and research farms to boot that have researched the heck out of water quality issues. Heck there is ag research out the wazoo for all kinds of issues, including environmental.

I spent the first 25 years of my life on a farm, and the rest getting education in agriculture, working in agribusiness directly with farms, and representing the community to regulators. I hope that CBF works with the ag industry, and maybe you do, I am not that involved with what is going on in MD. However, it sounds like someone could have informed the CBF that the crops are pulled off the fields too late to put on a cover before the program started. Another item is that you don't really want to have a grass cover when you are going to plant corn or wheat in the same field in the spring. Soybeans are fine, but not grass on grass. Here on the Northern Neck, I see many fields with winter wheat, although it is looking pretty crappy this year and barely coming up. Also, if you look across a field that has been no tilled and still has corn stubble present, there is a fair amount of cover left on the field. Much better then the days when everything was plowed under with the molboard. Capt George, I too learned of conservation tillage when I was younger on the farm, and also brought it home and implemented it. My Dad always loved a nice seed bed. Meaning the soil looked like flour when we were ready to plant. The minimum tillage was a real hard sell at first but now it is an industry norm (thanks in part to Roundup). ......sorry I am rambling now, the kids need some tending to, and gotta get them ready for Church.

I am still having a problem with this "research farm" thing though. Maybe if it was better explained then it just was along with the annual budget to run it....and some major accomplishments.

Well that my thoughts George.

Happy new year everyone.
 

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Forgot to mention, Capt George your last post had many good suggestions. Especially letting the farmers harvest the cover crop. However, I do know that the NCBA has opposed letting cattle farmers harvest CRP acreage. Not sure what ags stance is in Maryland. Also, I took a class at the USDA graduate school back in 1997 that was on all the farm programs in the farm bill. I was amazed at all the different environmental programs that the USDA has. From paying farmers to plant windbreaks (trees), to creating waterways with cover. There are many federal programs that could be utilized in the area. It would be a good class for anyone working on these issues to attend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
[q]Especially letting the farmers harvest the cover crop. However, I do know that the NCBA has opposed letting cattle farmers harvest CRP acreage --------------------------------------------------------

----In our case, Concerned on the runoff issue affecting the Bay, Seeing Acre after Acre unproctected It is Obvious the farmer is rejecting the Cover crop program----I know farmers , like watermen hate to be involved with Goverment, programs that may impeade day by day split decesions---Weather & markets change daily & to be locked in, sometimes can be a pain in the ---

------I also see a lack of support for the young farmer, FFA & 4 H programs are thin & up to date ideas few ---I may be wrong in this --I hope so.----

----Like I said before had I not brought new ideas home, from school, we would have continued to plant open pollinated corn into the 50's---
---Young minds & young backs, the diffrence makes---In teaching ole dogs new tricks---Maybe the answer is money thrown toward the younger sets Education----
----Too late for fall cover BUT ---Spring Oats--Then 80 day corn OR soybeans---2 crops---2 harvests-- [grin]

----JP --Ask Mr Heller to try this plan on a Acre, & see if it works---
 

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Hello George & Purdue1--

This thread is excellent, but it's getting beyond my expertise. I'm going to forward a link for it to Michael Heller & Tom Simpson for their comments. Will let you know what I find.

By the way, Purdue1, Clagett Farm came to us with a restricted endowment, which we wouldn't have had otherwise, and which, when combined with farm income, covers its expenses. It doesn't take any $ away from our other programs, while adding Michael's knowledge, experience, and expertise to our work with agriculture.

Also by the way, where are you on the Northern Neck? I grew up around Kinsale in the summers and have spent a good deal of CBF time on both sides, as well as around Reedville. My last trip there, in November, included time on the Rappahannock around Leedstown & on Nomini Creek (all the way up to the headwaters above Nomini Hall--beautiful!).

Happy New Year to you both! Let's hope for--and expect--better water in '06.

Best, JPW
 

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J.P.

Thanks for the response and you have quieted this critic. Sounds like a decent use for the endowment. I just strongly urge that research isn't done for research sake. There is enough Ag 101 research out there, that doesn't need to be duplicated over and over again.

I live up in Callao, so just a stones through from Kinsale. Let me know next time you are in the area if you have any free time.
 

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Hello Purdue1--

Thanks for the reply. You must be up Lodge Creek, or else on the Lewisetta side of the Coan. Great country! I cut my Bay teeth prowling the Yeocomico and its tributaries in a skiff in the 1950's and '60's. (Had to take the engine off to sneak under the 202 bridge over Hampton Hall Branch.)

Glad you're quieted, but I'm still hoping Michael or Tom can join this thread anyhow. Rest assured that the research we do is applied, especially in giving us a window on regional agriculture that allows us to join the discussion of how farm policy can benefit farm families, their communities, and the Bay ecosystem.

BTW, if you visit CBF's web site (www.cbf.org), you'll find a pdf of Vital Signs, a study that Michael, Tom, and several others wrote last year assessing the state of agriculture in the region.

Will be glad to stop by the next time I'm down that way. Thanks for the invitation.

Best, JPW
 

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J.P.,

I get my feathers ruffled when farmers start getting attacked, when most people haven't been on a farm. I had a field day up in Northern VA when young activist would come to my door and start spewing out rhetoric. I would always tell them that I could take them out to a farm a(DELMARVA) if they would like to go and learn a bit about what they were talking about. They always declined the offer. I have been very impressed with the management plans that the poultry growers, in coordination with the University, have implemented. Anyhow, farmers like to use the stereotype that George painted above to their advantage. There are many bright (older and younger), professional farmers out there that are innovative. I am sure you have seen them. I am also sure you all have had open dialogue with the organizations that represent them (Farm Bureau etc.). Working together on Bay issues and not against each other is imperetive, albeit, difficult at times. I hate to see the finger pointing on this board at times.

You are one step ahead of me. I have never seen a boat go under that 202 bridge. A local waterman just put up a dock right next to it and has staked out the channel. It appears to be skinny skinny. I just got a 17 foot boat that I plan on using in skinny water so I will have to go up that way. Sure beats the 3 foot draft of my other boat. By the way, you were right on the money, I am next to Krentz Marina and across from Olversons. If you have explored the few inlets around there then you have seen my house (by the old sawmill).

Kent
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
---I did the Chicken thing too--Rasing broilers, not fryers or egg producers---Tho All have the same problem, Manure---In my case I had over 250 tillable acres to spread it on & all were free of erosion----& yes I used the Moldboard plow to deep 12 it ----My thoughts on the chicken delemina that the bay is faced with is Quite simple----
-----As most present day chicken farmers seem to have smaller farms , say less than 50 acres they face getting rid of the manure they produce, w/o spreading over & over on the small acres left after the Home & Chicken house Acres ---

--Yet there must be Neighboring farms with countless acres that could use this by product----
----Farmers like watermen are so busy, that they only talk to each other once in a while----They need help to co -ordinate wants & needs ---Co agents should do this, But I doubt that they do----
----A Tidal Chicken online maybe could work in this day & age --
----If not a PAID Coo-ordinator Maybe?--Oh Well---
 

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Times they are a changing.

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