MD Aspiring Farmers

MD Aspiring Farmers

The Agricultural Careers and Entrepreneurship (ACE) Virtual Center was created to help connect MD residents interested in agriculture with career and entrepreneurship opportunities. 

Utilize the resources below to gain access to online training, information about agriculture in Maryland, important events and updates, job search resources, and more. 

University of Maryland Extension Resources

The University of Maryland Extension (UME) team provides many resources for aspiring farmers to utilize. For example, the Maryland Beginning Farmer Success Project provides new farmers with resources and contacts to be able to explore enterprise options, refine ideas, develop plans and strategies, and implement their farming practice. 

The Maryland Beginning Farmer Success program resources include:

  • The Beginning Farmer Success Guidebook 
  • Instructional Videos 
  • First Steps to Farming 
  • On-Farm Training
  • And more

In addition, UME offers resources for aspiring entrepreneurs through the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center (MREDC). Utilize resources such as:

  • Entrepreneurial coaching
  • How to grow your agricultural business
  • Finances 101 
  • Business modules

Agriculture in MD

Agriculture Industry Statistics

Agriculture has a big impact on the Maryland economy:

  • In 2015, the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) gathered data on agriculture and its effects in Maryland. It reported the total MD agriculture sector employs 23,878 residents. It is important to keep in mind that this specific sector only includes, “crop production, animal production and processing, and commercial hunting and trapping” (Diriker et al., 2018). These jobs bring in $3.3 billion to the Maryland economy. Support industries, those dependent upon agriculture for their business, add on an additional $12.5 billion to the MD economy and 41,129 more jobs for residents (Diriker et al., 2018). More data can be found in their full report.  

 

  • The UMD Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics published a study in 2013 that valued the Maryland Agriculture Industry as a “$8.25 billion industry” (Ferris & Lynch, 2013). In 2013, the most valuable sector of Maryland’s agriculture industry was the poultry industry because it contributed $1.7 billion to the Maryland economy and created 7,000 jobs for Maryland residents. In terms of crops, fruit and vegetables were the most profitable crops for Maryland farmers (Ferris & Lynch, 2013). These numbers and more information can be found in the full report

 

  • The Maryland Department of Commerce is a good source to find information on Agribusiness in Maryland. This department collects information on jobs, revenue, employers, rankings and more, all related to the agribusiness industry within the state of Maryland. In 2017, the MD Department of Commerce recorded a total of 12,429 farms covering 1,990,122 acres, directly employing 15,143 people in Maryland (Maryland Department of Commerce, 2017). They found that the largest Agribusiness employer in Maryland was McCormick & Company with 1,900 employees within the state of Maryland (Maryland Department of Commerce, 2017). View their complete pdf file.

 

  • The Maryland State Archives has recorded how much revenue is directly made from agriculture each year in the state of Maryland. In 2018, they recorded a total revenue of $2,237,073,000. The poultry and eggs sector was the biggest revenue earner making $1,045,149,000. View their archived information.

Examples of MD Employers

MD Agriculture Employers who have worked with UMD's career services in the past:

  • Calvert Soil Conservation District
  • Catoctin Mountain Growers 
  • Charles Soil Conservation Distract 
  • Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding 
  • Clark's Elioak Farm 
  • Complete Landscaping Service 
  • Days End Horse Farm Rescue 
  • Design with Nature LLC 
  • Eco City Farms 
  • EMG Corporation 
  • Emory Knoll Farms Green Rood Plants 
  • Environmental Concern 
  • FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine 
  • Finch Services, Inc. 
  • Frederick Center for Research and Education in Science and Technology 
  • Shorb Landscaping 
  • Lawn Doctor of Annapolis 
  • Lila Fendrick Landscape Architecture and Garden Design 
  • The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission 
  • Maryland Equine Transition Service
  • Maryland Farmers Market Association 
  • Old Line Environmental, Inc. 
  • Perdue Careers 
  • Plant Sensory Systems 
  • Prograss Lawn and Ornamental Care 
  • Real Food Farm 
  • Retired Racehorse Project 
  • Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. 
  • Synagro 
  • The Charles Koiner Center for Urban Farming 
  • The Compost Crew 
  • The Pearlstone Centeer 
  • Trent Hill Nursery 

Agricultural Support Organizations

Future Harvest - Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (Future Harvest CASA)

  • Mission: “Future Harvest’s mission is to advance agriculture that sustains farmers, communities, and the environment. We provide education, networking, advocacy, and research to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed…”
  • Also offers a 12 month beginning farmer training program with built-in flexibility for participants to continue working at other jobs.

Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF)

  • Mission: “to promote the understanding and importance of agriculture in our daily lives.”

Maryland Agricultural Resource Council 

  • Mission Statement: “MARC is organized to enhance the rural economy and to foster conservation of agricultural and natural resources through education and technical services for the benefit of the citizens of Maryland.”

Maryland's Best - Agriculture 

  • "Linking Maryland Farmers with Consumers.”
  • A website used to help introduce Maryland citizens to the farmers in their communities and the agricultural events in their areas.

Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) 

  • The state department that oversees a number of agricultural regulations, licensing and conservation as well as marketing and promoting the agriculture industry. 

Maryland Farm Bureau 

  • "Maryland Farm Bureau is the voice of Maryland’s rural and agricultural communities. We promote and protect Maryland agriculture and rural life with the support of our passionate membership, ensuring the future of our natural resources, food supply and rural heritage that are all part of what makes Maryland our home.”
  • 26,934 members, 23 counties, 12,200 farms 

Maryland Farm Link 

  • What is it?: “The go-to place for buying and selling farm properties, connecting with agricultural experts, and accessing agriculture education resources.”
  • Provides resources through farmer exchange, property exchange, job listings, and agriculture education.

Maryland Farmers Market Association (MDFMA)

  • Founded in 2012 as a way to support Maryland agricultural producers while also bettering the health of MD communities with access to more nutritional food. They also focus on the economic activity of the MD farmers markets. 
  • Provides information on regulations, selling at farmers markets, social media, and more. 

Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA)

  • Mission: “Our mission is to bring together the community of growers, consumers, and retailers in Maryland to support organic and ecological farming and local food production.”
  • Find their list of useful resources can be found here

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

  • A grants and education program supporting sustainable agricultural practices. SARE's mission focuses specifically on profit, stewardship and quality of life. 
  • Search their learning center for information on sustainable agriculture topics. 

University of Maryland Extension (UME) 

  • Visit the UME website and your county Extension Office for information on agriculture, natural resources, and educational programs. 

USDA - Farm Service Agency (FSA)

  • The Maryland State FSA is in charge of, "farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster, and loan programs". Important to contact your county FSA before any crops are planted if your property is currently farmland and enrolled in a federal program. 

USDA - Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

  • NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals for productive lands and healthy ecosystems.

Other Helpful Resources

Maryland Agricultural and Resource-based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) 

  • Organization whose mission is to, “help Maryland’s (typically small and family-owned) farm, forestry, and seafood businesses to prosper through the provision of targeted financial and other services that helps retain existing resource-based industry production and commerce, promote rural entrepreneurship, and nurture emerging or expanding agricultural enterprises”.
  • One of the many things it offers is, “Business resources and planning tools for rural entrepreneurs".
  • Offers information for new farmers. And a comprehensive list of resources

USDA Start Farming Program

  • This USDA program has resources for new farmers, women in Ag, youth, and veterans.
  • Provides steps on how to make a farm business plan
  • The USDA also offers a discovery tool which involves answering a few short questions in order to receive a set of personalized new farmer information. 

Small Businesses in Maryland Resources

  • USA.gov provides a list of specific resources for people wishing to start small businesses in Maryland. 

Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC)

  • Provides a list of resources specifically for farmers and landowners in Maryland. 

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program 

  • ATTRA is a National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. It provides information and other technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States. 
  • Provides sustainable ag webinars with an archive to all of their past webinars

Networking

Important Steps

Not sure if you're missing a step when starting your farming enterprise? Check out University of Maryland Extension's "First Steps to Farming" information.

Reach out to your local extension office and attend local training and email lists.  

Connect with new and beginning farmer resources. 

Agriculture Marketing

Want to learn more about agriculture marketing? UMD put together a guide with information on defining a market, marketing plans, implementation and more. 

Commodity Associations and Nonprofits

Join a commodity association that supports your farm enterprise.

Check out this list put together by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center on National Commodity and Agricultural Organization Sites. 

Social Media Presence

Need advice on how to use social media platforms for marketing purposes? The Maryland Farmers Market Association has created a Social Media Toolkit for Farmers and Agricultural Producers. This toolkit is designed for farmers who are not familiar with social media platforms and are also on a time budget. 

Examples of Past Events

Cultivate Baltimore

Workshop series provided by Future Harvest CASA, UMD Extension Baltimore City, and the Farm Alliance of Baltimore. Each workshop had a different theme in order to explore what it takes to be successful on an urban farm. A great opportunity for beginning farmers to learn new skills and connect with their local community. 

Learn more about Baltimore City's Urban Agriculture Programs

ALEI Conference

Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference hosted by the UMD Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI). A gathering of farmers, lawyers, ag and environmental professionals to discuss emerging opportunities, challenges, diversification, and more. This past year it took place in Annapolis, MD. 

Intro to Backyard Poultry

Free workshop designed to help teach beginning farmers on how to raise their own flock of chicken. This includes feeding, disease prevention, local regulations, and a tour. This past year it was held in Catonsville, MD at Great Kids' Farm. 

Precision Agriculture

Mid-Atlantic Precision Agriculture day held at the Wye Research and Education Center in Queenstown, MD. A day filled with practical and informative advice on precision agriculture topics and equipment that can maximize profits and efficiency. 

Contact Information

Have a specific question? Ask a UME Expert.

Find your county's Extension office website.

Contact us: acecenter@umd.edu