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 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.
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.
- The Charles Koiner Center for Urban Farming
- The Compost Crew
- The Pearlstone Centeer
- Trent Hill Nursery
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.
- Mission: “to promote the understanding and importance of agriculture in our daily lives.”
- 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.”
- "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.
- 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 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The University of Maryland Plant Science Food Safety Group works with the Food Quality Assurance Program of the Maryland Department of Agriculture to bring food safety education to Maryland farmers. The Food Safety Group works with farmers one-on-one and in-groups teaching Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Produce Safety Rule, FSMA.
- Stay updated on food safety education resources through their weekly newsletter, monthly webinars, or by following the Food Safety Group on Facebook.
- 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.
- Visit the UME website and your county Extension Office for information on agriculture, natural resources, and educational programs.
- 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.
- NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals for productive lands and healthy ecosystems.
- 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.
- 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 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.
Watch the ACE webinar recording on Starting a Farm in Maryland presented by Ag Extension Educator, Shannon Dill. Starting a farm in Maryland can be very rewarding but it does take some time, research and planning to be successful. This session explores considerations when starting a farm in Maryland including product development, marketing, and resources available.
- Follow along with the webinar's PowerPoint Slides
- Read through the Beginning Farm-Land Checklist and the Starting a Farm Enterprise in Maryland Checklist
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.
- A great place to start is the Beginning Farmer Success Guidebook
- Join the newsletter and the social media account to stay connected with other new farmers in Maryland.
Reach out to the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center (MREDC) for a Virtual Coaching Session.
Contact your local extension office and attend local training and email lists.
Begin working on a Farm Business Plan.
Participate in upcoming farm webinars or navigate through archived webinars covering a wide array of farm topics.
Join a commodity association that supports your farm enterprise. A commodity association or organization is a group of individuals related to a particular commodity or sector of agriculture. They work to promote the commodity, growers and policies that affect the industry.
According to Maryland at a Glance, by the Maryland State Government, "The main agricultural commodities in Maryland in 2019 were poultry and eggs, grain, horticulture, milk production, cattle and calves, and vegetables and melons."
Commodity Associations and Nonprofits in MD:
American Dairy Association North East: provides resources for dairy farmers throughout the states of MD, PA, NY, NJ, DE, and VA and compiles information about dairy foods, dairy health, dairy in schools, and dairy in sports.
Central Maryland Beekeepers Association: their mission is to spread knowledge about the importance of honeybees and provide appropriate methods for beekeeping in Central Maryland. This includes monthly meetings, educational courses, newsletters, local resources, partnerships and more.
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI): a trade association composed of 1,800 members across Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, working towards supporting one another in the meat chicken industry.
Future Harvest CASA: CASA stands for the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and their program’s mission is, “to advance agriculture that sustains farmers, communities, and the environment”. They offer classes, trainings, networking, advocacy and more.
Horticultural Society of Maryland (HSM): a non-profit organization which works to educate the community about horticulture with workshops, field visits, lectures and more.
Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association: A farmer owned cooperative working together to build a community of over 1,000 dairy farms, all providing safe and wholesome products.
Maryland Angus Association: their mission is “To inform and promote black angus cattle in Maryland”.
Maryland Cattlemen’s Association: “The mission of the Maryland Cattlemen’s Association is to foster profitability, sustainability and stewardship across the Maryland beef industry through producer education, beef promotion and political action”.
Maryland Cut Flower Growers Association (MCFGA): “is a collective of flower growers dedicated to producing high quality blooms for local consumers”.
Maryland Dairy Industry Association: their mission statement is, “to enhance Maryland dairy farmers’ livelihood so the dairy industry is a viable part of the Maryland economy”.
Maryland Grain Producers: “The organization’s major role is to act as a voice for grain farmers, mostly through its legislative activities both at the state and federal level”. Specifically, they work with farmers who produce corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, canola, and rapeseed by connecting farmers to both the state of Maryland and the National grain network.
Maryland Horse Breeders Association (MHBA): “The MHBA functions as an informational resource for horse breeders and owners, the media, community and governmental organizations, and the general public”.
Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association (MOFFA): “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”. Achieves its mission through educational events and resources.
Maryland Soybean Board (MSB): “The Maryland Soybean Board works to maximize the profitability of Maryland soybean producers by investing Maryland checkoff funds in research, promotion and communication projects”.
Maryland State Beekeepers Association, Inc: “a non-profit organization that has been dedicated to the advancement of beekeeping and the improvement of beekeeping skills in Maryland since 1908”. Provides a list of beekeeping organizations by county.
Maryland State Horticultural Society (MSHS): is composed of commercial fruit growers working to, “fund research on fruit production, insect, disease, and provide educational programming to the Maryland producer”.
Maryland Vegetable Growers Association: organization for growers, suppliers, and consumers in the Maryland vegetable industry.
Maryland Wine and Grape Promotion Fund: “The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Maryland Wine and Grape Growing conducts a grant competition to award an estimated $130,000 from the Maryland Wine and Grape Promotion Fund”.
Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC): their mission is to help facilitate a profitable and viable agricultural community in Maryland, specifically Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s Counties. “At SMADC, we are assisting farmers in creating a profitable farming future and informing the public on the importance of local farms to our overall economy”.
Maryland Commodity Classic: this event is held each summer in July at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park. Sponsored by the Maryland Grain Producers Association and the Maryland Soybean Board.
Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School: a 2 ½ day workshop held annually every November with five different program areas to choose from. Great for those interested in crop management issues. Learn more by looking at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Crop Management School Program.
Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention: this convention “has become the premier grower meeting in the Northeast combining three days of six or more concurrent educational sessions with a large industry trade show and numerous networking opportunities”. Next convention takes place on February 2 - 4, 2021 at the Hershey Lodge in PA.
National Commodity Associations and Organizations:
Check out this list put together by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center on National Commodity and Agricultural Organization Sites.
Want to learn more about agriculture marketing? UMD put together a guide with information on defining a market, marketing plans, implementation and more.
Oregon Tilth, a nonprofit organization supporting organic farming, created a webinar on Online Sale Platforms for Farmers. This webinar was originally created for farmers affected by the coronavirus pandemic looking to continue their sales through new online outlets.
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.
Stand out in your field: A certified naturally grown organization which aims to help farmers market themselves with instagram, branding, press release, and video advice.
Advice for MD Aspiring Farmers - Interview Series
Coordinator of Farm Education and Training at ECO City Farms
Urban farming requires not just technical expertise but also an effective marketing and sales approach."
- Advice to aspiring farmers
Examples of Past Events
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.
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.
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.