by Howie Feaga, President – Howard County Farm Bureau
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a wonderful New Years. I am looking forward to being your president for the next year, and I am looking forward to having a good year. We all work hard and enjoy farming, so I hope we can be prosperous and go forward in our fast-moving world of agriculture.
I want to thank everyone that participated in the “Great Lisbon Farmers Feeding the Hungry Christmas Parade”. The weather was magical, and the pictures are spectacular. I also hope you can see some of the video’s that were captured during the parade. We may never have such a winter wonderland during the parade for a long time. We have not gotten the total raised during the event yet, but thanks to all of you, we should be able to feed quite a few people with the proceeds.
Many thanks to all of you, for all you do throughout the year, and like I always say, “keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”.
We lost another really good man in October. Bill Barnes was a pillar of the farming Community. In his short 73 years he was a great husband to Merhlyn Barnes for 53 years, a wonderful father to 4 daughters, and a friend to more than we will ever know. We will all miss him and wish his family all the best, and will say a prayer for all his family.
The harvest is in full throttle now and we have a nice yield this year. With all the rain and good growing weather, it’s been a good summer. If we could get the prices of Corn and Soybeans up, things would be even better. We can’t have everything can we? Remember as we get busy, to not forget to take time to stay safe, and take time to service your machines to keep them in tip-top shape.
I want to congratulate Senator Guy Guzzone and County Executive Allen Kittleman for winning the “Rev. John W Holland Humanitarian Award” this year from the “Community Action Council”. They were given the award at the CAC’s Annual Dinner, of which I had the opportunity to attend as part of “The Great Lisbon Farmers feed the Hungry Christmas Parade” committee. You can all be proud of the fact that Ho. Co. Farm Bureau made the Gold Level of giving for the money that you raised at the Christmas Parade. The Parade made just under $15,000, and we hope to do even better this year, so get your tractors ready.
I hope to see everyone on November 9th at our “Annual Dinner”. It is always good to see you all and to catch up with everyone and see how things are going. We will be holding election of officers and we need to elect a new board member. We have 2 members going off, but we will only replace one of them, because we are reducing the board size. I want to thank Rhonda Winkler and Larry Barnard for serving on the board, it has been a pleasure working with both of them and we wish them all the best.
I want to thank everyone that has been involved with the “Mulch” issue, it seems it has gone on and on but hopefully it will be voted on the first week in November and hopefully it will pass. I still don’t understand why Ag Preservation parcels are being treated different, but maybe in the years to come it will be realized we are the future of agriculture in this county and maybe things will change. Meanwhile like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
SEPTEMBER 2017 MESSAGE
The end of the summer is closing in quickly, we had a dry June and July and now what seems like “Mushroom Season” is upon us. We have had more wet weather than I can lately remember in August. It makes you wonder how the fall harvest is going to go; if it stays wet we could be in for quite a challenge. I’m sure we will get our work done, we always have.
By now I’m sure you all have heard that we lost Grant Hill, it was a shock to all of us, he seemed to be so healthy. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family. I’m sure knowing the Hill family they will do their best to go forward, with lots of great memories of a great man.
I want to congratulate Kendra Bower on winning the Miss Howard County Farm Bureau contest. Kylee Bingham-Brendel won the Little Miss Howard County Farm Bureau and Hayden Brendel won the Future Howard County Farmer. I also want to congratulate all the winners at the Ho. Co. Fair. I want to specially thank Rhonda Winkler for all she and her volunteers did to make the Junior Showmanship another big success. In the words of Rhonda, can I get a loud Whoop! Whoop!
I had the opportunity to get together at Tom and Paula Linthicum’s farm, with other farmers from the area and meet with AFBF president Zippy Duvall. He was visiting to get to know firsthand what some of the Ag issues are across the country. We were his 42nd state so far. He told us the present administration is one that they have been able to work with and look forward to making progress with labor and regulatory issues as well as others. He told us to not relax, but to respond quickly to any “call for action” items that may come up. He wants them to know we are always aware of what is happening.
On Sept. 11 we go back to testify for the Mulch and Compost Bill; if you all can stop by it would be great for the support. It seems we may never be over with this, I know everyone is getting tired of battling for what is the right thing to do. So like I always say “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”.
JULY 2017 MESSAGE
Yes, it’s only July, I know you usually don’t get a newsletter in the middle of the summer, but your board decided we should keep the lines of communication open all year, even in the middle of the summer. There are a lot of things going on and we don’t want you to miss anything.
One of the things that is happening is that your editor, Amanda Ackman, better known as Mandy, is getting married on the 1st of July. On behalf of all the board and members I want to wish her all the best and hope she has a great time off for her honeymoon.
We got the Mulch and Compost bill part of the way along by having the Planning Board recommend that the DPZ version of the ZRA go forward. I want to thank the planning board for that. It’s a great start but we have a lot more work ahead to get it to pass the County Council. We will try and keep you up to date, so you all can be at the public hearing to show your support.
The Maryland Farm Bureau made some personnel changes so that the field representatives would have
less of a commute to work, so we lost Trish Hildebrand and gained Parker Welch. The transition should be smooth since both have worked the job for a while now, it is just their areas that has changed. So, welcome Parker and Good Luck Trish!!!
I hope everyone is enjoying the summer so far. The rain stopped and the weather warmed up and now it
is dry and hot; I guess we just can’t have everything the way we want it. So, the rush is on to get the hay
all made and then get to harvesting the barley and wheat done, so we can get the last of the soybeans
in the ground. Be careful not to rush and take your time so that you don’t have an accident or make a costly mistake.
The Junior showmanship practices are getting started and I know Rhonda is working hard to have the kids get every opportunity to make a good showing at the fair. Please come out to the fair and watch the show on Saturday at 12 pm and witness for yourselves the great work that Rhonda and her volunteers do to help the next generation of kids succeed in life.The Miss Farm Bureau and the Little Miss and the Little Future Farmer contests are scheduled for the first Sunday at noon.
So like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
MAY 2017 MESSAGE
The warmth is here and we are all hard at work now. Fields to fertilize and prepare for planting, cattle out on pastures and calves being turned out for the first time in their lives. These are the things that we live for. Before you know it, we will be making hay and corn will be knee high and as dark green as anyone can imagine. I hope everyone will be careful and watch closely to what you are doing, so all goes well.
It was great to see everyone at the Legislative Dinner. We had more elected Legislators this year than I have seen here in a long time. We all had a good time and a great meal with all our friends. I can tell everyone had a good time because when it was over everyone stayed and talked for a while afterwards. We also gave the checks from the “Christmas Parade” to the “Ho. Co. Food Bank”, the “Carroll Co. Food Bank” as well as the ‘Lisbon Fire Department” and the “Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry”. We divided up $13,000.00, so thanks to everyone’s generosity last December. We also gave Rachel King and Mark Chaney each a $2000.00 scholarship. The “Friend of the Farmers” award went to Richard Goldman, he was the cochairman at the mulch task force with Zack Brendel. They did a great job and Richard was a great person to win the award. Congratulations to all of our recipients. I want to give a special thanks to our Secretary Leslie Bauer and Treasure Kerry Brendel. I forgot to publicly thank them for all the work that they both put into the Christmas Parade. They take care of insurance certificates and handle all of the money as well as taking care of all the other Farm Bureau business throughout the year. Thanks again!!!
We have the “Mulch” issue about to be resurrected in the coming months, I am hoping that it will be settled once and for all, even if it’s not what we want, we need it to end. So like I always say “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
MARCH 2017 MESSAGE
This year is flying by, when you read this it will already be March. A lot has happened, we have been to Phoenix Arizona to the AFBF convention. Our new president Zippy DuVall, spoke to us and he is optimistic that better times are ahead; he has done a great job so far as our president. We also heard from Peyton Manning and his father Archie Manning, they both talked about the importance of family and hard work, something we can all relate to. We also had the opportunity to tour an open pit copper mine. They mine three quarters of a million dollars of copper every 3 days. The equipment is huge and very costly, and safety is stressed at every level; speaking of levels, we were able to go one level from the bottom of the mine floor. It was a real memorable tour.
Farm Bureau went to Annapolis in February, we saw the Ho. Co. Delegation at work, as well as the Senators and Delegates in session. We had a luncheon for all our representatives to meet and talk with them about current bills that are being introduced this year. Senator Gail Bates and Delegate Warren Miller both came by to let us know they were there for us. I want to thank all the men and women in Annapolis for all their hard work during the year to keep us moving forward.
At the local level, we have been working to get some legislation for “reverse setbacks” and to strengthen our “Right to Farm” law. In addition to that, the “Tier Legislation” is back once more, we will see where it goes. I don’t want to have any farmer not be able to use their land to its fullest value. But I also don’t want those of us that have promised not to develop and have preserved our farms, to not have the rights that we deserve, such as zoning to help us be more sustainable, and protection from people that want to keep us from doing what we need to do on our farms. Then with no compensation, be used to add value to those land owners who want to develop their land.
NOVEMBER 16 MESSAGE
The fall harvest is at full go now. The crops are ready to be harvested and if they are not they soon will be. Try to take your time and be careful, nothing takes longer than to repair something you broke when you were in a hurry and if it’s you that gets hurt, that takes even longer to fix. So slow down, you will get it done, you always do.
There are a lot of things going on in the county. One is that farms in Ag Preservation can now have up to 75 acres of Solar Panels on them. You have to realize though you will need a Conditional Use Permit. Also the power companies are looking for 10-20 acres due to availability of power lines near your farm, not necessarily 75 acres. Be sure to read your contracts closely, and talk to other farmers that may have done this ahead of you, so you understand all of your possibilities. Mulch and Composting legislation is coming up in December. So here we go again! We will be able to do our own composting, but most likely will not be allowed to sell enough Mulch or Compost to be financially feasible. We will try and keep you posted as things develop. I want to thank the folks at DPZ for doing their best to work out a reasonable compromise, even though it’s been very one sided.
Maryland Farm Bureau will be having their annual convention also in December; the 4th 5th and 6th. We have some new policies that will be discussed including getting extension back and education into all levels as well as what the state’s feelings are on Solar. There are many pros and cons due to the nature of solar, so it should make for some lively discussions on the convention floor.
Our own Howard County Farm Bureau’s Annual Dinner is going to be on the 10th of November. I hope to see all of you there. It is always good to take a break and have a good meal with all our friends and fellow farmers. I am always glad to see everyone and it is good to catch up on the latest going on in Howard County. We will be electing some new board members as well as some officers as well. So send your reservations in ASAP. You don’t want to miss the fun. We will have a new US president by then and that should make for a reason to get out and “talk it over”. Remember to vote on Nov. 8th your vote does matter. Like I always say “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
SEPTEMBER 16 MESSAGE
This has been one of the fastest summers I can remember. Here it is September and it seems we were waiting for May to get here just a little while ago. We had a blizzard, tornado, and a flash flood so far this year. Is this Howard County, Maryland? Hopefully everyone is getting things cleaned up and back to normal, if possible, after the weather cleared. Our hearts and prayers go out to Ellicott City, which took a real punch in the belly with the flood.
I hope everyone enjoyed the Howard County Fair. After all the hard work that the kids and parents did, hopefully it all paid off. The memories that you share at the fair are quickly behind us, but are never forgotten. The friendships and challenges are what make us better in the long run. Rhonda Winkler did another spectacular job with the Farm Bureau’s Junior Showmanship program again this year; lets all give Rhonda a loud WOOP WOOP!!!! We have a new Ho. Co. Miss Farm Bureau; her name is Jennifer Brigante and I look forward to working with her in the coming year. I also want to wish all the best to Jackie Bauer, last years Miss Farm Bureau, for all her hard work. It has been a pleasure working with her over the past year. I’m sure you will see more about the entire contest here in the newsletter.
The Solar on Ag Pres has not gone before the County Council yet, but I think it is scheduled for later this fall. We will be making policy for Maryland Farm Bureau in October, so all of you will be invited to our board meeting, better known as or Annual Business Meeting. You will also be invited to our Annual Dinner Meeting, if you are a voting member, in November, so look for those invites in your mail. You will also see we are having a “Farm to Table Dinner” in September. Look for more info in this newsletter. I hope to see you all at these events. So like I always say “keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
MAY 16 MESSAGE
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter; it seemed to be really early this year. That was OK though, because it always triggers the start of spring and if you are like me you love spring. The start of summer is just around the corner and that is always a busy time for all of us. Be sure to take your time to be safe, you can not undo an accident; take your time and check everything. The little things that you don’t do are the ones that will come back and get you later.
By the time you read this, we will have had our Legislative Dinner. It is always good to see each of you and it is also nice to visit with our legislative leaders from across the county and the state. There are lots of questions about the different bills that have gone through the county and through Annapolis. It was a whirlwind of activity, followed by a sigh of relieve when it comes to an end. To see what passed and what didn’t you can check out the Hotline of April 14, 2016, all the run down is in there. I would like to thank all our representatives at all levels, for everything they do for us each year. We need them and we rely on them to hear us and pass our concerns on to the legislative bodies so that we, as outnumbered as we are, can get a fair deal when the voting is over. Speaking of voting, did you vote in Maryland’s primary? I know it has not been easy for you to choose who will be right for the job. Every candidate, from the School Board to the Presidential candidates, seems to like the use of battering and insulting to get us to go their way. So all I can say is good luck, it should be very interesting this fall.
I hope everyone has a great summer. Try to stay safe and enjoy your family and friends. I look forward to seeing all of you at the Howard County Fair from August 6th to the 13th. If you can, try and watch the Jr. Showmanship contest, it’s great to see the young kids working with their animals, but even better, are the older kids that help the younger ones. It’s a heartwarming event. I am very thankful to Rhonda Winkler and all those that help out, to make it such a great success. So take care everyone and until the next Newsletter remember to “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
MARCH 16 MESSAGE
Well we all knew it would get here, yes winter, and a record snow storm to add to the books. We all lived through a historic couple of days. I hope everyone did OK and I want to thank the State and County road crews for all their hard work to get the roads cleared and open. We all appreciate your time and energy to help us get back to normal after such a big event. I know we are all looking forward to spring.
We had a very warm start to winter but with the blizzard and cold we have had plenty of winter, and if you are like me you are ready for warm weather and getting back in the fields. So as we all get back on our tractors, try to be ready by working on getting your machinery ready now. Take your time and be thorough. Now is the time you need to prepare for spring.
We had a good “Day in Annapolis”, there were lots of legislators at the MD Farm Bureau luncheon, and that gave us a good chance to talk to them about some of the bills that have been introduced. One bill in particular is very important; a bill to put Ag Education back into all the counties in Maryland. I hope this one makes it through. I want to thank Senator Gail Bates for co-sponsoring the bill with Senator Norman and Delegate Mike McKay from Allegany County. Great job!!!!
I hope everyone can make it to our last of the season’s “Breakfast for Dinner”. We will have the movie “Collateral Damage”. It is the story of the Hudson Family on the Eastern Shore that faced the Waterkeepers and won, but not until they were nearly put out of business. You will see how a minor thing turned really serious. So come on out on Thursday the 17th at 7 pm and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with us.
We have several changes that may come into our lives. One being the attempt of doing away with the Storm Water Management Fee. Another is a bill to change the “Tiers System”, and also a bill to allow Solar Energy on Ag. Preservation parcels. We will try and keep you up to date with all of these and let’s hope there will not be a lot of turmoil and stress over all of these possible changes. The “Mulching” issue may return later in the spring, but as far as I know, things are quiet for now.
So like I always say “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
NOVEMBER 15 MESSAGE
Here we go, it’s almost winter and there is so much yet to do. I know, but we always manage to get it done, and I’m sure we will this year also.
We will have our Annual Dinner meeting on November 12th; hopefully you sent your reservation in. It should be a good time had by all. It’s always good to see everyone, and catch up after the busy fall and late summer.
We had a good Business Meeting on Oct. 1st. We enjoyed having Senator Gail Bates, Council Women Mary Kay Sigaty, and Councilman Greg Fox sitting in on our meeting, and there was a great discussion on getting Agriculture back into the curriculum of the Elementary, Middle, and High schools. We are 1 of only 2 counties in Maryland that don’t have Ag in the classrooms. We have such a diverse Ag community that the kids are really missing out on a lot of opportunities to see it all first hand, and learn how much Ag has to offer. I want to thank Barbara Glenn who has been working with Kathy Zimmerman and the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Foose, to try and make something happen.
We will be heading to Ocean City in December for the MD Farm Bureau Convention. It will be the 100 year anniversary for us and that is quite an accomplishment. We will go over policy and other business, as well as elect new county directors and the slate of officers as well.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving; it’s a time to get together with family and friends. It’s good food, and good memories of past years and good times to come. Christmas will be right behind that with all the crops in and the cattle taken care of. We will reflect back on what I think has been a good year, but an unusual year, with weather that could have been better but wasn’t so bad we couldn’t cope with it. We will spend a little more time inside and unwind with family and relatives and enjoy the treasures we have.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me and Ho. Co. Farm Bureau. Without you, we couldn’t do what we do. I also want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!! Like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
SEPTEMBER 15 MESSAGE
Well here we are at the end of summer already. Where did it go? Just a few months ago we wanted it to warm up and then we wanted it to dry up, and now we want it to rain. All in all it has been a pretty good summer; but I do look forward to fall. Cool breezes, leaves turning colors and the anticipation of what kind of winter will we have.
I hope all of you got a chance to visit the Howard County Fair. It is always good to see everyone in a friendly competitive spirit. This year’s fair was the 70th fair, and it was one of the best. I would like to congratulate Jackie Bauer (daughter of Ricky and Leslie Bauer) for winning the Howard County Miss Farm Bureau contest this year. She is also accompanied by Peyton Hereth, our Little Miss Farm Bureau, and Anthony Poston, our Future Farmer. They are all going to be great representatives for Farm Bureau and Agriculture. Thanks to Katelyn Johnson, last year’s Howard County Miss Farm Bureau; she did a great job.
We have a lot of work ahead of us this fall; with the need to set policy for Maryland Farm Bureau and then the Zoning Regulations that will be brought back to see if we are allowed to do small Composting and Mulch Processing on our farms. We will also need to watch any new legislation that will be aimed at us for the next session in Annapolis. Our convention will be held in Ocean City and Maryland Farm Bureau turns 100 years old this year. Where did the time go? I hope you all can come to our “Breakfast for Dinner” on the 17th of September, we will also have our Policy meeting in October at our annual Business meeting which you are all invited to attend. We will also have our Annual Dinner Meeting in November, and then the Convention in December. Wow 100 years, I wonder what the farmers that started Farm Bureau would think of us today. I hope we have progressed along as well as they had hoped when their first few years were over and where will we be in another 100 years? Howard County Farm Bureau is 93 years old and we are doing well, and I hope you are all happy with the job we are doing.
I want to thank Rhonda Winkler for all her hard work and determination to make this year’s “Junior Showmanship” program another great success. She and the volunteers did a great job!!! Rhonda is also the Membership Chairman and this year Howard County made its goal for membership. Great job Rhonda!!!
So like I always say “keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
MAY 15 MESSAGE
Here we go, the weather has finally broke and we have a million things to do. Take your time; you will get them done…just not all today. Slow down and think about your next move carefully or you know what happens, you will make a mistake and possibly hurt yourself or someone else.
It was great seeing everyone at the Legislative Dinner. We had a great turn out of both legislators and members. We had Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder, State Senator Gail Bates, State Delegate Terri Hill, State Delegate Trent Kittleman, State Delegate Warren Miller, and representing Elijah Cummings the US House of Representatives Amy Stratton, as well as County Executive Allan Kittleman. The delegation was very upbeat and seemed excited to be a part of the change that is taking place in Annapolis, with a new Governor and many new legislators it was encouraging to see the enthusiasm that everyone has. The Howard County Councilmen were not there due to a Budget Meeting that was scheduled, and made it impossible for them to attend. We have invited the Councilmen to be our speakers at the next “Breakfast for Dinner” on the 14th of May at 7pm. I hope that all of them and many of you will be there to listen and ask questions of them about any issues that we are concerned about. Colby Ferguson and Matt Teffeau summed up for us how MD Farm Bureau worked hard to fight most of the “Bad Bills” that were put forth this year in Annapolis. They too thanked our delegation for their very cooperative efforts to make the right decision on 99% of the bills. All in all it was a great session and I want to thank all the legislators, Colby, Matt and Valerie for all the time and effort that everyone put towards a good job done.
I want to congratulate the recipients of our Sponsorships and Scholarships that were received by Lexi Winkler, Shannon Sullivan, Jennifer Carroll and Ali Calkins. We had 12 applicants and these 4 were chosen. If you were one that was not chosen, try again next year and good luck.
MD Farm Bureau is going to have some workshops on the new laws from Dept. of Natural Resources, and try to help us understand better the best way to use our Deer Management Permits and the new laws that have been passed in the last few years, with regards to us as landowners and our hunting rights and limitations. These will be similar to the Truck Forums in the past. I hope to see everyone at the last “Breakfast for Dinner” of the season on the 14th of May. Don’t forget the 70th Howard County Fair is coming in August. Everyone have a great and safe summer, and like I always say” Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”.
MARCH 15 MESSAGE
We made it to March; wow did it get cold in February or what? I can only imagine how bad it was in the upper northeast with 7 feet of snow. Hopefully all the farmers and their families did OK up there, and are beginning to thaw out and get back to normal after a winter like that. We have to count our blessings that we are not covered with that much snow. As I write this it’s 10-15 degrees.
Several of us are preparing to go to Annapolis to talk to our legislators on “Day in Annapolis” about our concerns with some of the issues that are being considered this year. We will be heading to DC on March 18th to also talk about some of our concerns with them. I hope they listen to us and what we are trying to say about some very important issues.
The “Breakfast for Dinner” on the 19th of March should be a lot of fun, we will be showing the movie “WE” It was made long ago and some of the characters in the movie are the local farmers from Carroll County and Howard County. It should be interesting to see how many of the actors we can actually recognize. We look forward to seeing all of you and your friends, and I hope the weather is cooperative.
The Mulch Task Force has wrapped up their meetings and it will be up to Planning and Zoning to hopefully write the new law, so that it will be favorable to everyone. The members of the Task Force put a ton of time and energy into working on both safe and economically stable recommendations that should work for everyone. The Ag people on the task force were Lynn Moore, Cathy Hudson, Kathy Zimmerman, Martha Ann Clark, Brent Rutley, Bob Ensor, Bob Orndorff, Keith Ohlinger, Justin Brendel, and the Co-Chair Zack Brendel. I want to thank them for all their time and efforts. We will all need your help when the time comes to get into law what the Council will be voting on when the final bill is written, so that we can once again have Composting and small Mulching back into our RR and RC areas as well as in our Ag Preservation Parcels. Stay tuned and we will do our best to keep you up to date.
Our Legislative Dinner will be coming up on the 16th of April. I hope you all will be able to attend, so you can hear first hand how our newly elected Legislators are going to be working to help make life in Howard County and Maryland better for all of us. The new Governor Hogan told us at the Ag Dinner that he was going to see that the farmers were not going to be the target for unjustified and non science based regulations and I hope that will be the case throughout Maryland and down to our local levels as well. So like I always say “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you.”
JANUARY 15 MESSAGE
I hope everyone had a Great Christmas and a Happy New Year! We have certainly had a busy year. With the New Year comes the hope that this year will be better than the last. I can only hope at this time and you all know that having hope is half the battle.
There have been some changes to our Board of Directors. Two long time board members are stepping down and two younger ones are taking their places. Phil Jones, who has done a great job on the board and was your past president before me is stepping down, as well as Allan Bandel, who has been our editor of the Newsletter for the past 18 years and served as a board member for some of those years. The new board members are Cathy Hudson and James Zoller. Cathy has a small farm in eastern Howard County and is also on the Ho. Co. Sustainability Board. James and his dad Joe, have a farm on Carroll Mill Rd, where he is trying the county’s first crop of Hops. I look forward to working with these two and the rest of the board members in the coming year.
I would like to welcome Amanda Ackman, better known as “Mandy” who is the new editor of the Newsletter. She will be replacing Allan Bandel and we look forward to working with her for the coming years. She has been around agriculture most of her life, growing up in Carroll County around the Harrison’s and also working for Jim and Christie Steele of Shamrock Farm. I hope you all welcome her and if you have anything to add to the Newsletter, be sure to let her know.
We have had our second, and getting ready for our third “Breakfast for Dinner”. We had 33 people attend on the 19th of November to watch the movie “FarmLand” which was a good watch and a great time had by all. I always consider we had a good meeting when everyone stays just a little while longer at the end, just to catch up with their friends; and that they did after the movie. We will have Lynn Moore at the next one on the 22nd of January to talk about her trip to Africa. Lynn does a great job and it should be a good evening.
The Mulch Task Force is winding down after what has been a very patience testing endeavor. The Ag Members and the others on the Task Force have all talked about everything from the height of piles of sticks, to composting our dead animals. We are hopeful that everyone has come away with a new admiration for all that we have done and would like to continue to do on our farms. We all have to maintain our properties as good stewards of the land. Those of us with animals need composting, Nurserymen and Landscapers need to handle tree trimmings, and some make mulch as a side business that is a secondary business to the main use of their property; all in an effort to survive on the land. Safety has always been an important part of agriculture and we all know it’s not going to stop us from farming. We adjust and move forward with everything we do and safety is going to move forward with us, just as it has for centuries, it is what keeps us alive. We will all need to try to help pass a new bill that will let us all survive in the coming years and I hope you all will show your support for the agricultural industry when the time comes. I will try to keep you posted.
The Md. Farm Bureau met in Ocean City in early December to go over policy and to elect your new District Directors. Jay Rhine has served as one of our Directors for the past two years and he has done a great job. He could have run again, but chose to step down for many reasons, one of which was to allow someone from Montgomery County to take his place. I want to thank Jay for his time on the State Board. I would like to welcome our new District Director Paula Linthicum. She and her husband Tom farm in Montgomery Co. and she is a recent participant in the Md. LEAD program. They grow corn, soybeans, wheat and are very active in the MCFB. We look forward to working with her and if you have any concerns with Farm Bureau at the state level, don’t hesitate to talk with her.
Well that’s about it for now, I hope to see you in Annapolis on February 18th for our “Day in Annapolis” and again on the 18th of March for the “Drive into DC” , we need to keep talking and educating our legislators, it’s the only way they get the real story. Have a great and mild winter and like I always say “keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”.
NOVEMBER 14 MESSAGE
As I write this article, we have all become increasingly busy with getting those last minute jobs done that help us prepare our farms for the cold winter months ahead. Here at Merry Acres Farm, we have been draining those hoses and waterlines that will not be needed when the weather turns cold and that might freeze. Some members of the ag community may soon be installing plastic sheets over some of their loose-fitting windows, or perhaps they will be adding small pieces of insulation to those openings that tend to let cold air in.
We are also working hard to finish up our harvesting and bringing in those last few fields of corn and soybeans. We’re moving the horses and cattle into our winter lots closer to the barns, and ordering a winter supply of that expensive propane and fuel oil.
The days on the calendar are now rapidly moving closer to Thanksgiving. It’s that time of the year when we count our blessings and make plans to bring the family together for a big traditional dinner and then head right into making our plans for Christmas.
We should also take time to reflect on all the changes that have taken place over the past year. Some families have rejoiced as weddings took place. Some have witnessed the miracle of children and/or grandchildren being born into the world. Sadly though, some families have lost loved ones that the Lord took home way to early (in our opinion). We all know that He looks at the big picture and we only see through our small windows of the world.
We will be having our 2nd “Breakfast for Dinner” on Wednesday, November 19th at 7:00 p.m. Our first such scheduled “breakfast” was held this past September with, in spite of having an excellent speaker, only about 22 people were present. We are hoping that for future “breakfasts” we will be able to attract greater attendance, especially since we will have more free time then after our outside work slows down.
For our next “Breakfast”, which will be on November 19th, Maura Cahill, our Breakfast Program Coordinator, has arranged for a showing of the approximately 44 minute version of the documentary movie entitled FARMLAND. So, I hope that you will make plans to attend for this presentation, a very interesting and timely movie.
I also hope to see everyone at our Annual Howard County Farm Bureau Banquet on the 13th of November at 7 p.m. in the Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company social hall. This is a very important annual event since this is the time set aside to hold our annual election of officers and directors. It is always good to see everyone, especially at this event.
In other business, the special Mulch Task Force has been meeting quite often to try to get that controversial situation ready for fall legislation. I hope that after all of their work is complete it will produce a favorable outcome for everyone. We need to hold on to our ability to maintain our farms’ right to make compost. Most importantly, we need to be able to keep our farms economically sustainable as the need for diversity comes along.
And finally, I have been asked to announce that this will be the last issue of the Howard County Farm Bureau Newsletter in which Allan Bandel will be serving as editor. He has decided to step aside after 19 years and doing a great job as editor. He first took on that job (temporarily, he thought) in 1996 when Ron Cashdollar was serving as President. Since then, there have been three more county presidents (Phil Jones, Charlie Feaga, and now me).
I can’t tell you how enjoyable it has been to read the information he assembled, especially some of the stories he published in the Newsletter about his life growing up in rural Howard County. I find many of them easy for me to relate to since we were close neighbors for many years. I well remember some of the characters in the stories that he has frequently written about.
Allan usually improved my “Message to Members” articles by correcting my grammar and rearranging some of my sentences so that you can better understand the points that I was trying to convey. I want to wish him well as I know you all will too. Take care, Allan, and “thanks for putting some of your memories” in print to share with the rest of us. Perhaps we can prevail upon you occasionally in the future to share a few more of those stories with us.
Well, until the next Newsletter, I hope that all of you experience a bountiful harvest and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
And of course, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
SEPTEMBER 14 MESSAGE
Here we are already into September and it seems like we just got the chill out of the air and now that cool season is back with us. I hope that everyone had a good summer. The hay is in the barn and the corn and soybeans are about ready to be harvested. So we must count our blessings now that we are well on our way to a great fall season.
I must inform everyone of a problem that developed after the last newsletter (May) had gone to print, i.e., the “Mulch Issue”.
It seems that when Comprehensive Zoning was updated a year ago, the cap on the amount of acreage that you can use for a Conditional Use, such as mulch processing on our farms, was omitted. Several residents of the Dayton community made it into a huge deal and in that process got composting in the fight as well. Composting is a part of the mulch-making process.
None of us (in Howard County Farm Bureau) ever wanted to not have any cap on the size of the operation. We thought that approximately 5 to 7% of a farm’s total acreage would not be too large, yet still be large enough for it to be profitable and add to the farm’s bottom line. At the present, there is a task force at work trying to work out a compromise.
Several different groups have representatives on the Task Force. Our representative is Zack Brendel. The group has had several meetings to work out the differences. But, we may need all of you to help get a new bill passed that would allow us to gain back our composting and also allow small mulching operations to do a quality, valuable job for our county. We will try to keep you posted as this issue develops.
I next want to congratulate Katelin Johnson on her being named Miss Howard County Farm Bureau for 2014. The contest was held on Sunday, August 3rd at the Howard County Fair. She was selected over three other very talented young lady contestants. I was impressed with their performance before the judges and the large crowd that had gathered to see the contest in the show arena. It was a really good group.
I also want to congratulate our 2014 Little Miss, Jillian Morgan and our 2014 Future Farmer, Erik Jacob. I look forward to working with all the kids during the coming year.
I wish a warm farewell to our retiring 2013 Miss Howard County Farm Bureau, Laura Thomas. She did a great job and has a great future ahead of her, we wish her all the best!
I also want to thank Kelly Spicer for being a wonderful 2013 Little Miss and Michael Yencha for his help as our 2013 Future Farmer.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone at our first “Breakfast for Dinner” on the 25th of September at 7:00 pm. I hope the new schedule will allow more of you to be able to come and have breakfast food for dinner, enjoy our guest speakers, take time for fellowship with other Farm Bureau members and a chance to ask any questions that you may have.
Our regular Farm Bureau policy meeting is coming up in October. You are all invited to attend that public board meeting and discuss any new policy that we might try to add to our organizations long list of policies that are already in place.
Finally, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”.
MAY 14 MESSAGE
The winter is finally over and was it ever a long one. To get us through, we had to buy hay this year, the first time in decades. But now the grass is greening up and by the time that you read this, you have probably even had to mow your lawn.
It was good to see everyone at our Annual Legislative Dinner on April 10. We were happy to welcome six of our elected legislators and invite them to speak as well as to field questions from the audience. As usual, it is always good to interact with our legislators to help make them more aware of our concerns and perhaps help them to better understand some of our unique interests and problems.
It was also our first time for awarding scholarships to our youth. We hope that the scholarships will give them an opportunity to demonstrate just how much they understand about agriculture and that they have a strong desire to become more involved.
We also awarded our sponsorships for the Young Rider and the Adult Rider categories. Congratulation’s to all of our young people. There will be more later about these awards in a later edition of the newsletter.
At 8:00 am in the morning of the second Thursday in May, May 8th, we will have the final Agri-Business Breakfast of the season. It will also be the last actual breakfast in this series of educational meetings. After our meeting on May 8th, we will be starting a slightly different format, one that we will initially refer to as “Breakfast for Dinner”. The first such meeting following the new schedule will convene on September 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm. Location will remain unchanged, i.e., the Dining Hall at the Howard County Fairgrounds. Watch for additional details.
Although attendance has generally been very good overall for the traditional bi-monthly early morning agri-business breakfasts, in an effort to encourage even better attendance numbers, starting in the fall, we will be asking our speakers to meet with us in the evening for dinner rather than for a morning breakfast. We hope that even more folks will thus be available to attend in the future. We want everyone to know that we will soon be having “Breakfast Menu at Dinner-Time” meetings.
We struggle sometimes to consistently come up with good, timely topics and find speakers to address them. If you know of topics that would be both interesting and helpful when addressed, and of course, can suggest a speaker to address them, then please let us know.
As always, in addition to the speaking part of the program, you can count on being part of an excellent, and helpful, learning experience at these programs. And you can also count on enjoying dinner and having a pleasant visit with friends. Instead of the traditional breakfast, arrange to take a break now for dinner. Beginning in September, watch for more details in both this Newsletter and the reminder card.
So, now as the fields dry out and the temperatures get back to more normal levels, I know that we will all be getting busy with planting and hay making. Be sure to try and work safely. Don’t get in such a hurry that you make careless mistakes. Mistakes sometimes lead to accidents. So, slow down! Enjoy what you love to do, and do it safely.
So once again, let me remind you to “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you!”
MARCH 14 MESSAGE
As I take a few moments to write this report, the weather forecast is calling for 6 to 12 inches of snow. I for one am ready now for more moderate temperatures, which at this point would be very welcome to most of us I am sure.
We have made it past Ground Hog Day and historically, that day marks the half-way point for the feed supplies that we have on hand, such as hay, silage and grain. With the cold weather and no real change in sight, we may very well be looking at shortages in some of those feed categories. It will be warming up soon, and I hope we can all make it through these next few months. We always have.
Well, we finally have a “Farm Bill”, better known as the “Agricultural Act of 2014”. There was lots of debate on this bill. At one point even, there was a splitting off from the rest of the bill of the “SNAP” portion, the part better known as the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”, or more popularly, “Food Stamps”. This is the portion of the bill which is really important to the people who really need help in putting food on their tables. I’m sure that temporarily leaving it out was a bit unsettling for them.
With both parts of the Farm Bill back together again, it gives the bill quite a different look now. The Farm Bill is different from the past, mostly changing, or should I say eliminating the subsidies that we have been receiving, and in it’s stead, introducing a system of insurance that will serve as a safety net to help us in hard times. This change will save the tax payers $23 billion. So we can truly say we are once again doing our part. That savings is from our side of the bill which represents only 15 percent of the total. Eighty percent of the bill is on the SNAP side of it. The Farm Bill will be in place for five years and hopefully the legislators will continue to work with our Farm Bureau leaders to make a good thing even better for all of us.
On the local front Maryland legislators introduced a “Chicken Tax Bill”. They proposed imposing a tax of five cents per chick when they are received from the hatchery. The last I heard, that bill was killed. But, we will have to keep and “eye” on it.
They are still discussing increasing the minimum wage, the Phosphorous Management Tool, labeling seeds from Genetically Modified Organisms (plants) and the range of trucks bearing the K-tag. We intend to stay ahead of these issues and any other agricultural related bills that may be introduced during this legislative session.
Several of your Howard County Board members attended the recent Ag Dinner. We were fortunate in being able to visit with some of our legislators first hand. The food served was all Maryland home grown and, of course, was very good. The Edwards family of Caroline County won the Maryland “Hall of Fame Farm Family” Award. The Edwards Family have a dairy operation on the Eastern Shore. Our heartiest congratulations to them.
The American Farm Bureau Federation convention in San Antonio TX was a great time for all who attended. We watched as our own Shelby Watson from Prince Georges’ County; made it to the “Final Four” in the AFBF Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet. She turned in a great performance. It was really nice to have a local young woman advance to that level. Howard County’s own Michael Calkins represented Maryland in the AFBF YF&R Excellence in Agriculture competition. He gave it a valiant effort, but was not selected to compete beyond the first elimination. He turned in a great effort and we encourage him to try again next year. Congratulations to both of you, and thanks for all your hard work preparing to represent Maryland and doing it so well.
Please be careful in the snow. Warm days will be here soon and we will be getting busy with spring chores. So, as I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
JANUARY 14 MESSAGE
We got through another Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City. The snowy weather for our travel was a bit tricky but we managed to have a well attended convention.
Policy discussions went well and the biggest topic was on the selling of raw milk. We decided not to support raw milk sales in Maryland.
A new president was elected, Chuck Fry from Frederick County. He is a dairy farmer in Tuscarora with 200 cows and they operate Rocky Point Creamery. When you travel to Leesburg, his farm is on the left just before the bridge into Virginia, 2 miles on the right.
Our new 1st Vice-president is Wayne Stafford from Cecil County and the 2nd Vice-president is John Draper. Our new District Director is Joe Kuhn. Jay Rhine is our District Director starting his 2nd year and was elected to the Executive Committee for 2014.
I want to thank Pat Langenfelder for doing a great job during her term as president. I also want to thank Jim Steele for his service as 2nd Vice President I am sure both of them will continue to help by serving on committees and boards in the future. I also want to thank Tom Hartsock for serving as our District Director for the past year; he and Jay did an excellent job for us.
I would like to extend congratulations to Andy Bauer. He was the Howard County’s selection to compete in the National Skill-a-thon contest. (See Maryland Skillathon Team Competes elsewhere in this Newsletter.) Andy won 7th place as an individual and the Maryland Team placed 3rd. It is great to know that here in Howard County we have a great group of kids who are knowledgeable about Agriculture. Congratulations to Andy and all of the Maryland Team.
Your Board of Directors has started an Ag. Scholarship program and a Sponsorship program for Adult and Young Riders. We are working on other youth programs that will help kids in 4-H and Farm Bureau so that their parents don’t have to pay for additional cost for their kids participating in Agricultural activities. We will keep you posted.
The Board of Directors has also voted to change the Agri-Breakfast Program. We are aware that, because of timing, many of you cannot make it to our Breakfast Meetings and have the opportunity to hear to some really good speakers. We have decided that, beginning with the next breakfast meeting season (September, 2014 to May, 2015), we will try scheduling “breakfast” in the evening. We will have breakfast food served for a quick dinner and then have our speaker’s presentation. We will plan to start at 7:00 pm and try to end by 8:00 pm. Hopefully that will enable many more people to attend, to enjoy a nice meal, hear our scheduled speaker, and enjoy a short visit with their neighbors.
As many of you know, the farmers and ranchers in Wyoming and South Dakota suffered a freak blizzard that killed thousands of cattle and horses. The Farmers and Ranchers from Montana have been donating cattle to help replenish some of those lost herds. We as farmers and ranchers and rural Americans are to be commended for our willingness to help when the need is there. I just want to thank all that have been part of that effort.
Hopefully we will have a Farm Bill by the time you get this newsletter. The deadline for doing this was the 1st and then the programs that help us all to provide affordable food and sustainable agriculture across this country will be in place.
Like I always say ” keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you.”
NOVEMBER 13 MESSAGE
As I write this, another day of rain! Since it’s too wet to do much anything else, it gives me a chance to organize my thoughts and write this message. At this time we have already received a little over 4 inches of rain. The weather just won’t let you predict its outcome. Mother Nature has her own agenda, and we have no say in what we get, so the best we can do is to accept what she gives us, and deal with that, as best that we can.
Regarding Mother Nature, I am reminded to send a message to all of the women who have a connection to Farm Bureau. Did you know that every family membership includes a membership to the Farm Bureau Women? The Howard County Farm Bureau Women can really use some help carrying out some of those very important programs that they offer leadership roles in. For instance, there is the Miss Howard County Farm Bureau Contest, the Little Miss Howard County Farm Bureau and the Future Howard County Farmer contests. There are other exciting programs that you can participate in such as the Annual MFB Convention in Ocean City. None of these programs take an excessive amount of time, and the returns cannot be more rewarding.
The generation of men and women in the Farm Bureau is changing, just like farming itself is changing. We must adapt to changing times. We must innovate, create and hand down to the next generation new traditions and new ways of life on our farms. Farm Bureau must adapt to these changes. We currently have several younger members, both men and women, on our Howard County FB Board of Directors, and I believe that they are adapting to these changing times and have stepped up to the task. I also believe they have enjoyed helping make those decisions that are important to them and to the organization.
I believe it would be the same, with the Farm Bureau Women, if given a chance. I encourage you to take part in Farm Bureau Women activities. You will not regret it. If interested in assisting with these important programs, please do not hesitate to contact Merhlyn Barnes, Annette Fleishell, or even me.
I know that by the time you read this, the harvest will be in full swing and we will all be pushing just a little bit harder to get everything done. But, resist getting in too big of a hurry. That’s when we become vulnerable to making mistakes. Be careful. Take your time and try not to get too anxious. You will still get all of your work done. You always have.
When Thanksgiving arrives, you will have much to be thankful for. And if the harvest is still underway, then slow down and take time to enjoy a good meal. Take a well-earned short break. Then get back to it in a day or two. When Christmas arrives, then you’ll be ready to enjoy your family and friends once more, and hopefully, you will still be in one piece.
In early December, we will be heading over to Ocean City to take part in the Annual Maryland Farm Bureau Convention. Every year we gather with our fellow farmers to work out policies that help us to work with legislators, so that we can either defeat or support the legislation that is being put before us. Some laws are good, but others are bad. Discussing and making decisions early will help us to better deal with them.
I hope that everyone will have a great Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!
Always remember. “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
SEPTEMBER 13 MESSAGE
I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful summer. It has been characterized by one of the most unusual weather patterns that I can ever remember. Crops are doing both well and not so well. With as much moisture as we have had. It has been a real challenge to harvest. But what is planted has never looked better. But looks can also be deceiving. If the soybeans don’t get enough sunlight to bloom, yields will be hurt. Let’s hope for a more normal fall for the sake of a good harvest.
Our new Miss Howard County Farm Bureau 2013 is Laura Thomas. Our alternate Miss FB is Katelin Johnson. 2013 Little Miss Howard County Farm Bureau is Kelly Spicer and the 2013 Little Future Farmer is Michael Yencha. Congratulations to them all. Please check out the write-ups and photos of these outstanding young people elsewhere in this newsletter.
I also want to thank Molly Ousborne our outgoing 2012 Miss Howard County Farm Bureau. She did a great job during her reign, and I am sure she will go on to bigger and better things in the future.
I also want to congratulate Mike Calkins who has won the Maryland “Excellence in Agriculture” Contest. He and his wife, Alli, will be going to the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in San Antonio, Texas to compete at the national level. We all want to wish him the best of luck. It is a very tough competition that he will be participating in. I know that he will do his best.
We have finally completed the PlanHoward2030, which is the rewriting of the zoning laws in Howard County. We had a bit of a rush near the end, but with the help of the administration and other helpful participants we managed to get through them and hopefully accomplished establishment of a set of rules that we can all live with. In addition we were able to strengthen the “Right to Farm” law that will help us to continue our ever changing farm operations and protect our Agricultural economy as well.
We have also been working hard to prevent getting “soaked” by the Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee, better known as the “Rain Tax”. After much debate and testimony by both sides, the final outcome for our farms is a $90.00 flat fee. We had hoped that we could have gotten a complete dismissal of the fee since we have the greatest percentage of permeable to impervious land coverage. But, our arguments were evidently not the most compelling, if you know what I mean.
We will continue to do our best to keep a watchful eye on new legislation, legislation that I am sure will be coming at us during the next session of the General Assembly in Annapolis.
Meanwhile, be safe, and enjoy the rest of the summer. Like I always say, ” keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”.
MAY 13 MESSAGE
I hope that by the time you are sitting back to read this, we are living with more average temperatures and hopefully, more average rainfall. It seems that lately, we have been experiencing more above, or more below average, than normal. But of course, that is why we calculate averages. We aren’t always happy with the extreme values that averages are based upon. Then we always seem to prefer trying to hold Mother Nature to our own standards. And that just isn’t likely to happen.
I was really pleased to see so many of you at the Legislative Dinner. We had a good turn out of legislators and it gave us a chance to thank them for all the work that they do on our behalf. Our legislators were given an opportunity to try to explain what they see when faced with the decision’s they had to make. There are always differences of opinion and legislative decisions are not always to our liking.
That is why we need to help our legislators, and the public, to understand our reasons, for not always agreeing with some of the new laws and regulations that are being imposed upon us, at both the State, and the County level. These changes, are not always based upon the latest scientific information, nor always properly interpreted to best fit our needs. Sometimes, there is too much of an emotional element involved in political decisions and laws are changed just because they seem to be the “feel good” thing to do.
As I strongly suggested in my closing remarks at the dinner, we must now be the ones to educate our leaders in Annapolis and in Washington, DC in order for them to fully understand and responsibly react to the problems of modern agriculture.
We no longer do things like we used to. We take soil samples as well as manure samples to make sure that we are not applying excessive amounts of nutrients to our land. Farming is a way of life, but, it is also a business. We realize that we could not stay in business for very long if we waste money by applying excessive amounts of fertilizers and chemicals.
We have, with the help of modern technology and more modern machinery, been able to avoid the overlapping of fertilizer and chemical applications. With the help of space-age technology, such as GPS, we can accurately track each field at the time of harvest and determine what our crop yields are and then make adjustments based upon that information.
With the help of the expertise of the folks at the Howard Soil Conservation District, as well as all the informative publications that we receive, such as periodic “Farm Magazines”, we have learned about the benefits, as well as the problems, that have occurred, with innovative practices such as crop rotations and tillage methods. We also keep up-to-date about the latest practices we should follow to protect and improve animal health and well-being.
So, the next time you are out with the general public, let them know that you don’t farm the way that your parent’s and grandparents used to, not that they were wrong, but that through them passing their knowledge to you and their open-mindedness as well as ours, we are, and always have been, improving our way of life, as well as that of our neighbor’s lives, in the process.
Remember, that without erosion we would not have the Grand Canyon or the Mississippi Delta, two of this countries greatest treasures. With time and scientific knowledge we can make our own small treasures and preserve our world, in a slow and effective way.
So, like I always say “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”. Or, more in today’s reality, “Keep your computer turned on and your minds wide open. We’re all in this together”.
MARCH 13 MESSAGE
The Ground Hog came out of his den (or as you may have noticed on TV, was reluctantly removed) and did not see his shadow. So as legend has it, we will have an early spring. I have always counted Ground Hog Day as being at the half-way point of our hay and feed supplies. In general, I believe that we should do well with our supplies so long as we have no major snows or other winter weather to slow down the arrival of spring. The days are now getting longer and we are doing ok so far.
I hope that the weather out in the Plains states treats our fellow farmers with some moisture soon or they will be in trouble again this summer. The Mississippi River is at the lowest level that it has been since 1988. At that time, they closed the river for 30 days in the St Louis area. Authorities are hoping not to have to close it again this year, but it is getting close to that happening again. The tugboats are having trouble moving barges of grain and other commodities up and down the river. Let’s hope that the situation changes soon, and for the better.
We have been through some of the most controversial times, that I can recall, during the last few months – e.g., the rewriting of PlanHoward 2030; our new zoning regulations as part of that process; and the State’s new laws that are being passed down to us. It has been a stressful time for us all. I hope that things settle down soon.
With the changing of generations, as well as the new laws, it has put some of us on different sides of the issues, in some situations. Those of us who are here for the long haul in agriculture view things a little differently from those who are at, or are approaching, the end of their farming careers. We all want what is important to us, and those differences are always in the mix when we are trying to work out changes. I hope that the turmoil will end soon, and we can get back into our fields, with the warm breezes in our faces and the sunshine to our backs.
Our Legislative Dinner is coming up on the 11th of April and I look forward to seeing all of you there. Bring your questions and a good appetite. I encourage all of you to try to be present, not only to visit with your representatives in government, but we have a very special presentation planned and you won’t want to miss that.
So, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
JANUARY 13 MESSAGE
It’s 2013 already and it seems like we just got started with 2012. Where did the year go? It’s been so much fun we can hardly stand it in our area. Some of our neighbors have not had it so good, with the drought and storms. But we can really count our blessings in our local area. Hopefully everyone had a great Christmas, and you are ready for another fast-paced year of accomplishments and triumphs over life’s challenges.
I want to welcome our new board members. They are, Mitzi Jones, Martha Anne Clark, Guy Moore, Jamie Brown, Mark Hereth and Mark Iager. I look forward to working with them in the coming years. I also want to thank those board members who are retiring (for now) for doing a great job. I wish them luck in the coming years. They are Lynn Moore, Charlotte Mullinix, Shelly Bulhman, Charlie Feaga, Bucky Clark, and Tim Dowd. It has been a pleasure serving with all of you.
By now I’m sure you know that the Md. State Farm Bureau Board has been reconfigured to a smaller size. The counties were divided into districts to reduce the number of State Board members. Our district consists of Carroll, Montgomery and Howard Counties. Our district has two representatives on the State Board. They were elected by a caucus election at the Ocean City Convention in December.
As you know, we tried to elect them with the combined membership, but due to some complications, we had to reconsider that approach and move forward. We have Jay Rhine now as our 2-year representative and Tom Hartsock as our 1-year representative. Tom will also serve on the Executive Committee. Congratulations to both of you.
It will be interesting to see how things work out. Like most any new change in procedure, there will be some bugs, I’m sure. But please be patient and bear with the new State Board of Directors as they work through the “rough spots” and continue to move forward once again. We will elect someone next year for a 2-year term. After that, we will be on a regular cycle of electing a new representative every year who will serve a 2-year term.
There was a little sadness expressed at our December board meeting. We had to wish a fond farewell to our retiring secretary, Merhlyn Barnes. She has served as secretary for 30 years and has been the heart and soul of the Howard County Farm Bureau during that time. We could not have been better represented during that period. I could not have had a better teacher of all the duties I had to learn when I took office. She had more patience than a saint with me as I went through those first couple of years. I will always be indebted to her for all her help, as will the entire county for the countless hours of time she spent as our WONDERFUL secretary and friend.
Merhlyn is handing over the minutes to Leslie Bauer who will take the job of secretary. Together with Merlyn’s help and mine, I’m sure that Leslie will do a great job. Leslie and her husband Ricky have 3 children. They grain farm as well as raise hogs and beef cattle near Dayton. She has helped with the Sheep and Wool festival for several years and I look forward to working with her.
So as we begin a new year and venture into the unknown, I wish everyone a good New Year. Like I always say, “keep your plow in the ground; we’re all pulling for you.”
NOVEMBER 12 MESSAGE
Well, how about this weather? We have been so lucky to end the summer and go into the harvest with some of the most favorable weather since last spring. Everyone is asking me what the forecast is for the winter. I can only answer that the weather forecasters have trouble predicting what it will be for the next three days. So, I think that we will get what we get. We can handle it, we always have.
We tried our best to get the details of the election of our District Directors worked out only to be confronted by a “brick wall” right at the end. In an effort to be in compliance with the State by-laws, we will have to wait on a critical definition to be interpreted by the State Board before we can go forward. No one is more disappointed than I am. But, we will continue to do our best with the situation at hand.
I hope that the Director issue will be quickly resolved so that I can update you at our Annual Dinner on the 8th of November. We will be electing six new County Farm Bureau Board members and a slate of officers at that meeting. So, I hope that all of you can be there to welcome these people to their new positions. Also, I hope that you will thank the directors who are retiring for doing such a great job for us all.
Speaking of elections, I would encourage everyone to get out and vote in the upcoming Presidential Election. In these trying times we need to continue to show an interest in who we elect. The outcome may not always be the way we want it to be, but at least if you vote you can say you were a part of history. Just knowing that you did your part by exercising your valuable freedom to vote, is a great reason to be proud of this country that we live in. Not everywhere do people have that right. So, be thankful and take advantage of what this country has to offer.
With the fall harvest beginning to come to an end, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving soon and then it’s on to Christmas. It’s a time to take a look back at all the things you and your family and friends have accomplished over the past year, and then look forward to next year, to try and do even better.
I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas! And an even better Happy New Year! So as I always try to remind you, “keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”.
SEPTEMBER 12 MESSAGE
Well, the summer is about over and if you are anything like me, we are all pretty much ready to have it come to an end. The heat has been a real burden on us all. We have to be thankful though, that we, at least most of us, have received a goodly amount of rain. You don’t have to travel very far our area to see how the lack of rain has taken a heavy toll on many crops and pastures. We have been very blessed to have gotten what we did.
I’d like to congratulate our new Miss Howard County Farm Bureau, Molly Ousborne. She did a great job in the contest as well as did the other contestants.
Our Little Miss Howard County Farm Bureau is Rebecca Herriotts, and our Little Future Farmer is Mark Chaney. Congratulations to all of you. I look forward to seeing all of you throughout the coming year as you carry out the duties associated with your respective new roles.
I would like to thank Katie Loveless for the great job that she did this past year as our 2011 Miss Howard County Farm Bureau. She was well-spoken, offered a smiling face and a bright voice for Farm Bureau wherever she went. Thanks, Katie, and Good Luck in all of your future endeavors!
Your county Farm Bureau Board of Directors is meeting again with the Montgomery and Carroll county Boards to develop the list of nominees for our State Board of Directors position. We will be sending that final list of candidates to our voting members so that they can vote for our 2013 representative and also for our 2013-2014 representative. If you have any questions about any of the nominees or about the election itself, please don’t hesitate to discuss these issues with me or with any of your board members. I will try to keep you up-to-date with the outcome of the election, and later on regarding how the new board structure is working out.
Try to slow down and enjoy the cooler weather. The trees should have some brilliant colors this fall as they take that last turn to winter. Be careful as the fall harvest begins and take your time. As always, the fall work will get done as it always has. And remember what I always say. “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you.”
MAY 12 MESSAGE
Well here we are, all as busy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. We had way more rain last fall then we could use, and now we are so dry. Now we wonder what this summer will bring. I hope that by the time you read this we will all have received a good soaking rain.
In our efforts to get as much done as we can in a short period of time, don’t forget to take a moment to slow down and check, then double-check your equipment. You have more time to do it right the first time than to do it over again. Also I want to remind you of another important safety consideration. As you and your kids, relatives, and/or friends start out to take a quick ride on your 4-wheeler, please slow down. I recently lost my cousin’s husband to a 4-wheeler accident and I lost a cousin several years ago to a 4-wheeler accident also. They are great tools and are a lot of fun, but just be careful with them. I don’t want to have to add your name to my list of losses.
The General Assembly session in Annapolis is now over, and I hope they don’t get called back in. If they couldn’t get the job done during the regular session, then why waist our tax money on bringing them all back. We did manage to get the Estate Tax exemption of $5 million on agriculture as long as the farm stays in ag for 10 years after the owner’s death. We can be very thankful for that success. It has been a long time in coming.
We will have had our Legislative Dinner by the time you receive this Newsletter, and I hope that all of you had a chance to attend. It’s always been a good dinner and an excellent chance to meet our representatives and question them first-hand about any concerns that you may have had. As always, I want to thank our elected representatives for taking their valuable time to visit with us.
The following report concerns the proceedings of a very important Tri-county Farm Bureau Board meeting held on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 in Gaithersburg. In an effort to reduce the current large, and somewhat unwieldy, size of the Maryland State Farm Bureau Board of Directors, a new, re-structured, State Board with fewer members is in the works. Delegates representing the Carroll, Montgomery and Howard County Boards convened to work out a plan for equitably selecting two representatives from our new tri-county district to serve on the re-structured, down-sized Maryland Farm Bureau Board.
This new Board structure was adopted by the Maryland Farm Bureau last December at the State Convention in Ocean City. The new plan divides the state into districts that in effect, makes the state board smaller and more efficient. Our new district is composed of Carroll, Montgomery, and Howard Counties. These three counties will be represented on the new State Board by two directors.
The purpose of our Tri-County Board meeting was to work out a fair way to select the two directors who would represent the three counties. After much discussion about possible ways to do this, we came up with the following procedure. The FB Voting Membership will vote (bring in your card) at each county’s Annual Dinner Meeting, or you will be able to vote by mail.
It was also agreed that by September 1st, each County Board will nominate no more than two candidates from their county for their state director’s position. Another Tri-County Board meeting will then be convened during September at which time the candidates will present their resumes and be interviewed. Your County Board will then make that information available to the Voting Members.
The Voting Members will vote for two of the six possible nominees. The two nominees receiving the highest number of votes will represent all three counties on the State Board. Initially, one director will serve a one-year term, and the other will serve a two-year term. After the first year, one director will be elected each year and will serve a two-year term.
We thank you for your patience as we work our way through this re-structuring process. We hope that everyone is clear on just what we are doing, and the reasons for doing it. Regardless, I hope that you will, once again, remember what I always say. “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
MARCH 12 MESSAGE
Everything seems to be higher so far this year. Gas prices, grain prices, temperatures, seeds, milk prices, propane, hay, twine, you name it, they’re all up. So what happens when some prices come down and others stay up? Be a little cautious, take care now, and save back a few dollars for when things do start coming back down. Seems that nothing lasts forever, so let’s enjoy it while it’s here.
If the new Septic Bill passes, we will see our farm’s value go down. If you have equity loans, they will lose some of their value due to the reduction of that value. The Farm Bureau will keep on trying to defeat that one. If the estate tax bill called “Family Farm Preservation Act of 2012” passes, the exemption level will go to $5,000,000, but not without certain requirements. So, get ready for a real “roller coaster” ride of ups and downs.
OK, on now to some good news. I want to congratulate the Robert and Drew Stabler families on winning the “Maryland Hall of Fame” Farmers of the Year Award for 2011. Presentation was made at at the recent Maryland Ag Dinner. These brothers and their families farm mostly in Montgomery County and have done a fine job. They are well known in the Ag community for their hard work and their all-around community service. We wish them many more years of successful farming.
I want to recognize Rhonda Winkler for standing up for the U.S. flag in her town of Lisbon/ Woodbine. If her efforts are successful, we will all be able to fly our American flag in other traffic circles to show our troops that we are behind them as they risk their lives for us every day that they are away.
With the help of Warren Miller a bill has been introduced in the House of Delegates. Rhonda and Warren both testified in Annapolis to help get things on the way. Let’s hope that they are successful in this patriotic endeavor. Let’s cheer them on!
That same day, Farm Bureau and others went to Annapolis to visit with our legislators and to sit in on some of the other hearings being held that day. I hope that our presence shows the elected legislators that we do care and that we need them to represent us well when we cannot be there ourselves.
Some of us will travel to Washington DC on March 28th to meet with our senators and representatives to discuss new issues of this session, such as the Trade Agreements that were last year’s discussion topics. I feel we had a part in getting Congress to see our side of those issues, and they voted favorably. Hopefully, we can have the same success this year.
As I write this message, it is a cold and windy day. But soon, the days will start getting a lot longer and the warmth of the sun will begin to warm both us and the earth. We will then see the green coming back into our surroundings. The ground will begin to dry out and we can once again get back onto our fields in preparation for planting and nurturing our crops. We can all be thankful that we live in such a place as Howard County, where we can enjoy winters that are not all that cold, and summers that are not all that hot and friends that come from all walks of life.
We will always have problems from time to time, learning to live with each other, but if we concentrate on the solutions more than the problems themselves, then we will succeed in living together as harmonious neighbors.
So, remember what I always say. “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”.
JANUARY 12 MESSAGE
Well, we made it through another year. It always seems so far away when you think of something a year away and then all of the sudden it is here. When we look back at the year we just had, it’s been cold, snowy, wet, dry and wet again. I guess Forest Gump’s mom was right, you never know what you’re going to get. We know one thing for certain though. Things will change and all of us will make the best of it, we always have. I believe that we farmers have even more capability to handle change than most others because we have always had to make changes to meet the task at hand. We can all be proud of those abilities.
We traveled to Ocean City for our annual convention in December and we are changing there also. The delegates voted to reduce the size of the State Board. We will share representation on the Board with two other counties, Montgomery and Carroll. There will be two representatives from the three counties as State Board members. Communication will be the key to making this new arrangement work. Lets all do our best and once again change will become the normal.
Congratulations to our President Pat Langenfelder, 1st Vice President Chuck Fry and 2nd Vice President Jim Steele on their reelection. Thanks to them for a job well done this past year. And congratulations to the Mullinix Brothers for winning the 3rd highest sales award for Maryland Farm Bureau Tire’s.
I want to thank everyone that helped the Hudson Family over the past year. Hopefully, the Hudson’s nightmarish law suit will end soon. No one deserves to be harassed that way. The Hudson’s personally thanked us all at the convention dinner. Keep up the fight; it is for all of us.
A second barn was lost to fire last year. Grant Hill’s hay barn was lost in mid-December. I hope that no one else has to experience such a disaster. A barn fire has got to be one of the most feared, and expensive, events to happen to anyone.
The first annual Lisbon Christmas Horse Parade on December 10, 2011 was a big success thanks to the efforts of all its organizers and participants. They did a great job to help bring back a really neat part of our past. The Carroll County and Howard County food banks benefited the most, and that’s a good thing.
I want to welcome Rhonda Winkler and Mark Martin to our local Board of Directors, and I want to thank Susan Baker and Brice Ridgley, our retiring members, for serving their terms and for doing a fine job for us.
Well I hope everyone has gotten their crops harvested and that your Holiday Season was a happy and blessed time. So as always, “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”
NOVEMBER 11 MESSAGE
Well, as I sit here writing this message, outside it is pouring rain once again. I can only hope that everyone is safe at home as I am. The rain has been relentless this fall and every time we think that it has stopped for a short while, the race begins to get as much done as possible before the rain returns again. Try not to get in too much of a hurry to get ahead of the weather and then make some unfortunate, perhaps costly, mistake.
With the stress of the weather and the effect that it has on every crop, and every job we have to do, it still is better than the stress that the Waterkeeper Alliance has put on one particular Maryland farm family, Alan and Kristin Hudson of Berlin, Maryland. Due to a series of circumstances that were out of their control, the Waterkeepers are suing this family, in the opinion of many, for no valid reason. But like most of us, their finances can not handle the legal fees that they have incurred in an effort to defend themselves against these unjustified charges. I would encourage all of you to go to www.savefarmfamilies.org on the web and decide if you can help this farm family in any way. This horrendous situation could have befallen any one of us that this group chose to target and destroy, all without any scientific, or even logical, test results, to pinpoint the alleged pollution that the Hudsons have been charged with creating.
We also have to be thankful that most of us have not gone without rain for so long, that we had to sell our livestock, so that they would not starve because of the lack of pasture and water resources. The farmers in Texas may need help as well as some of those in other states that had flood waters to cover their farmsteads, filling their barns, grain bins, and machine sheds, with water that took days, weeks, or months to recede before they could begin cleaning up the damages. The loss of feed, hay and animals has got to be one of the most damaging events that anyone could ever have to experience. I hope perhaps, that as a group, the Howard County Farm Bureau, might be able to help in some way, to get some of these fellow farmers past these disasters and back on their feet.
I also learned by way of a telephone call just as I was finishing up writing this article, that Betsy Hobbs’s straw barn had been hit by lightning and had burned to the ground. I hope that you all can keep her in your prayers. She has had a really rough go of it lately. I have always thought that to lose a barn, in this case, one filled to capacity with straw, is one of the most depressing things a farmer can experience.
Our Annual Dinner meeting is scheduled for November 10, 2011. I hope to see all of you there, to enjoy an evening of good food and good fellowship. We need to provide ourselves with a chance to forget our struggles, and to recognize that we are not alone with the burdens that we bear.
We will be electing new board members and officers that evening. So don’t miss this opportunity to be in on this important process. Finally, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”.
SEPTEMBER 11 MESSAGE
Well, the end of summer is fast approaching. Where did the summer go so fast? We have had a pretty good summer here in the Glenelg area, but just a few miles away, the season has been very different. The lack of rain has left its mark on all the crops and pastures. As I write this though we are getting some rain that has been very widespread over our whole area. So, I hope these rains have helped everyone, even though for some, it may have arrived a little late.
I would like to congratulate the new Howard County Miss Farm Bureau, Katie Loveless, she was selected from a group of seven contestants. All of the girls did a great job. But, of course, we could only have one winner to represent us. The girls were all very helpful to one another and it was almost like the movie “Miss Congeniality”. We can look forward to a great future for this contest. We must hope that this trend will continue with the next groups of contestants.
I would also like to congratulate the Little Miss Farm Bureau winner, Ellie Feaga, and Kevin Spicer, the winner of the Future Farmer award.
It was nice seeing so many of you at the fair, and the kids did a really great job with all their animals, baked goods, and exhibits that they entered in the hopes of perhaps picking up a blue ribbon or even a championship. Good job, kids, and hope to see you next year.
I hope everyone can spend a little time this fall harvesting and enjoying the cooler weather. Try to slow down and take your time. You have always gotten your work done before and I’m sure it will get done again this year. So like I always remind you, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.” We will see you soon.
Howie Feaga (center), Howard County Farm Bureau President, accepts recognition for being selected as the 2011 Howard Soil Conservation District Cooperator of the Year. Some of the officials participating in the presentation were, from left to right, County Council Member Greg Fox, Howard SCD Manager Robert Ensor, and County Council Member Mary Kay Sigaty.
MAY 11 MESSAGE
Well here we are into May already, can you believe it? Seems we were hoping to get out of winter without too much more snow, and now here it is spring. This is a great time of the year especially for farmers, we start to see everything grow, and we are planting our crops. There is no better thing then to be a farmer in the spring time.
We had a great Farm Bureau visit to Washington, DC. This year, we had quite a few people go along to try and help persuade our legislators to understand our point of view on some of the bills that were being considered. Somehow, I think that we helped even though we don’t always see things that way. I do think that our efforts make a small difference some of the time and that is a start.
The Legislative dinner a couple of weeks ago was a big success, we had a lot of elected officials present. They were at least willing to visit with us and give us their perspectives on our government, even though it isn’t always what we want most to hear. The dinner and the fellowship were great and I thought that overall, we had a good evening. We look forward now to seeing everyone in the fall when we have our annual dinner.
Congratulations to Brent Rutley and Martha Clark Crist, among others, who were appointed to the General Plan Task Force. I would encourage everyone to let our Task Force representatives know of anything that you feel needs to be addressed in revising this document. It is your chance to make a difference.
Well, try not to work too hard or to fast, and enjoy this time of the year. Once again, “Keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you.”
MARCH 11 MESSAGE
Are you as ready for spring as I am? We haven’t had a really bad winter yet. It just seems to me though, to have been really long and cold.
We attended the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Atlanta, Georgia in January, and yes, it snowed while we were there. Although it only amounted to a few inches, for Atlanta, it turned into a disaster. The buses stopped running and the taxi’s were off the roads. Many people didn’t make it back to work the next day.
But, we had a good time and our keynote speaker, Mike Rowe from the TV show “Dirty Jobs”, was a great speaker and did an outstanding job. (See the accompanying article in this Newsletter about his message.) He is very pro-farmer and some of his shows have been heavily criticized by the EPA and the OSHA people. But he broadcast them anyway because they represent real life. You have to like him just for that.
I congratulate Pat Langenfelder on her election to the national AFBF board of directors. I know that she will do a great job in that position and will represent Maryland very well.
The Legislative Affairs committee and all the Farm Bureau staff are back to working with all of our new and returning representatives to try to keep all the new bills on the right track. We don’t need anymore hardships to deal with than the ones that we already endure.
Locally, I am glad to see that we received a favorable vote from the Howard County Council on the Beekeeping bill. I believe we can all live with that decision. I would like to thank the Council for all of the time and effort that they put into that issue. I also want to thank the beekeepers and hope that they can now go back to their hives and keep them healthy and busy doing their very important job of pollinating crops. I hope to see all of you at the Legislative Dinner coming up later in the spring.
With spring coming on and our lives about to get really busy, try to take it easy and not hurry so much and make a costly avoidable mistake with either a piece of your machinery or with your tools. We all tend toward getting in a hurry sometimes, and that, unfortunately, can lead up to the making of a terrible accident. So slow down and remember, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
JANUARY 11 MESSAGE
Well, winter is here, we have already had a couple of light snows, but it made driving a mess. Unfortunately, we most likely haven’t seen the worst yet. Let’s hope that we don’t have a winter like last year. That should be a once in a lifetime event. Hopefully most crops are now out of the field and we can take care of our animals without too much trouble.
The recent Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City went well. We adopted a few new policies and have a battle on our hands with the lawsuit filed against the Maryland Department of Agriculture, but hope to do well with that.
I would like to congratulate our 1st Vice President Chuck Fry and 2nd Vice President Jim Steele on being reelected; they have done a great job and work well with everyone. Pat Langenfelder, President of the Maryland Farm Bureau, has done a great job as well and has a couple more years on her term. I am looking forward to traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in January. I hope to return to Howard County with a lot of new idea’s for the future.
I hope everyone enjoyed our recent Annual Dinner at the Lisbon Fire Department Social Hall. It is always good to see all of you and it was good to have some of our neighboring county Farm Bureau Presidents as well as our State President in attendance to enjoy a great evening.
We have had a good year and hope to have another one next year. So, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
NOVEMBER 10 MESSAGE
Wow. Did this summer ever go fast, or did it just seem that way to me? Fall is all but over now and it seems like we just got cooled down from a record hot summer. I hope everyone had a good summer. It seemed like it was an exceptionally hot one with rain arriving just in the nick of time. It wasn’t the worst summer for most of us, but the weather did challenge a lot of areas in the state that weren’t as fortunate as most of us.
With the harvest in high gear now, remember to take your time and be extra careful. We don’t want to hear about you in the news. I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the Dell Family in Carroll County on the sad loss of Tommy Dell. You never know when life will take a tragic turn. We all know from our own experiences that it just takes a split second and we can be in trouble. Please slow down and enjoy life to the fullest, and good luck!
We will be heading to the Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City on December 5 – 7. Among other items, we will be considering policy suggestions that have been submitted over the past year. We also will enjoy visiting with other delegates from across the state, some of whom we only get to interact with on these annual occasions.
Everyone continues to work hard in making Maryland Farm Bureau as effective as possible. We will soon have the newly elected legislators to become acquainted with and hopefully, to try and educate them about our needs. We must let them know what policies work best for us so that any future decisions they make are in our best interests.
I hope that everyone will plan to attend the Annual Howard County Farm Bureau Dinner on November 11th at 7 pm. We look forward to seeing all of you there. We look forward to enjoying a great meal and fellowship with many of our friends.
So for now, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”
SEPTEMBER 10 MESSAGE
I hope that everyone enjoyed the recent week-long 65th Annual Howard County Fair. It was fortunate that the heat finally broke so that the week was, all in all, pretty good.
I want to congratulate Miss Tess Gavagan for being selected as 2010 Miss Howard County Farm Bureau and also offer congratulations to Miss Nicole King, 2010 Little Miss Howard County Farm Bureau, and to Mr. Mathew Chaney, 2010 Future Howard County Farmer. I am sure that they will be great representatives of Howard County’s agricultural community for this coming year, as well as into the future.
I want to thank Jay Rhine for serving as a great MC for the contest. I also want to thank Danielle Bauer for doing a great job this past year as our 2009 Miss Howard County Farm Bureau and wish her well as she enrolls at West Virginia University this fall. A big thank you also to the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee for all their hard work in organizing the contests.
We finally received some much needed rain, and I hope everyone got some of it. The showers have really been spotty this year. Some of the much needed rain arrived in a bit of a nasty storm in some places. I hope that you all fared well with it. I know that the rain arrived a little late for some crops, but it will really help our suffering hay fields and pastures. Being the perpetual optimist, I am looking forward to a nice fall, one in which we can get our harvest in safely and quickly.
Your Maryland Farm Bureau PAC Voters Guide is out in time for the September14 primary election. The county committees have evaluated the candidates and they have prepared a list of those that earned the 1st round of endorsements. Let me know if you need a copy. You should have received them in the mail.
Our “Meet the Candidate’s” event at the Fair on Tuesday evening went fairly well. We had 14 candidates register to speak and answer questions from the audience. Attendance could have been better, but I know that there were a lot of other events going on at the same time. I would like to thank all the candidates who participated. We really appreciate the time that they gave us from their busy schedules.
Well that’s about it for now, I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer. The kids are back in school now and the summer months have sure gone by quickly. Be sure to watch out for those yellow buses and the kids who are walking home from school. Finally, like I always say, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”.
MAY 10 MESSAGE
I hope everyone enjoyed the fellowship and the food at the Legislative Dinner on April 15. Those nice ladies at the Lisbon Fire Hall sure know how to prepare a good meal.
Did everyone listen closely to their legislators trying to make sense of this year’s session in Annapolis? Remember, this is an election year, and you need to really evaluate what went on and prepare to make a decision next fall that will be best for you.
Your Board of Directors has been working hard to get our membership up so that our voice is heard loud and clear. We are all being asked to sign up one new person, each of us, starting in July. But I think that is an unrealistic goal. Nevertheless, we should still try to do our best to increase membership.
Well, who would have thought that we were going to have such an early spring. It is very welcome though isn’t it? After all that snow last winter, I’m sure no one is complaining. With the weather getting better, we all are anxious to get out to the fields. But once again, please take your time. You will still be able to get your work done. Try not to rush through to the next job. You will still get it all done.
With all the snow in February, it will seem as though we will have had only an 11 month year because we lost that whole month. But we will catch up. You just need to work at it and re-prioritize. You will get through it. Like all of you I am looking forward to a great summer and just like a farmer I am hoping for “PERFECT” weather.
You all take care and I hope to see you at the Ho. Co. Fair, and like always “keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you”.
MARCH 10 MESSAGE
WOW!! It just kept on coming. Just when we thought that it had finally stopped raining, then it just wouldn’t stop snowing. We have blown the seasonal record for snowfall right off the books.
I hope that all of you made it through the storms safe and sound. I did hear that tragedy struck at Gene and Charlotte Mullinix’s Woodbine farm with the collapse of one of their big feedlot barns. I haven’t heard yet how many animals were lost or injured. Regardless, we wish them well on their cleanup and recovery efforts.
Hopefully, no one else has suffered this kind of misfortune. All that we can do is learn from our experiences. And it seems that there have been more than enough opportunities for learning from our weather-related experiences of this past fall and winter. Please be safe in your future endeavors. Take your time and look ahead.
I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Seattle, Washington in January for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention. Believe it or not, it was warmer in Seattle than in Tampa Bay, Florida. We met many other farmers from across the country and enjoyed visiting with them.
We heard a very moving message from AFBF President Stallman, telling us that we must no longer tolerate the efforts of our opponents to change American Agriculture. Our adversaries are skillful at taking advantage of the politeness of members of the farm community. We must not allow that to continue lest it result in our demise. We need to be more proactive and actively defend ourselves and our way of life.
On the lighter side though, we were totally entertained by our keynote speaker, Terry Bradshaw, a former Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback and member of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame.
Spring is just around the corner and hopefully memories of this past fall and winter will fade, and we can begin to look forward to a more normal spring and summer.
So, like always, “keep your plow in the ground.” “We’re all pulling for you”.
JANUARY 10 MESSAGE
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year. We all need to put last year behind us and start looking forward to the new year. Not that last year was that bad, it just really got old with that weather. We have had a little bit of winter and there are a lot of crops that have not been harvested yet. The only thing I can say is that you are not alone. This past fall was just one of the wettest that I can remember. Try to be patient and sooner or later things will get better.
Several of us went down to Ocean City to the annual Maryland Farm Bureau Convention and we left with a new President. She is former Howard County farmer Pat Langenfelder. She and her husband, “Dutch”, farmed in Clarksville and moved to Kent County several years ago where they now have a very successful hog and grain operation. Congratulations to Pat.
Chuck Fry has moved up to 1st Vice-president and Jim Steel is our new 2nd Vice-president. I would like to express a fond farewell to our out-going president, Mike Phipps. He has done a great job and will always be remembered for his humor and talents as well as being a great Maryland Farm Bureau President. Good luck to all of these hard working, dedicated people.
Here at our county level we have a new Vice-president, Jay Rhine. Jay is a former dairy farmer and now farms part time, but also has a very successful landscaping business. I look forward to working with Jay.
We have two new board members now, Zack Brendel and Allan Bandel. Zack farms part-time and operates an excavating business that he and his brother Justin started along with a new septic pumping business. Allan Bandel, the other new director, you all have known as our newsletter editor for many years. I would like to welcome the new officers and directors and thank the rest for a great 2009. I am looking forward to another great year together.
So, like always, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you”.
NOVEMBER 09 MESSAGE
Well here we are in the middle of harvest again and we are looking at Thanksgiving in just a few weeks. The summer was a lot different than those that we have gotten the last few years. Plenty of rain, lots of sun at times, but our weathermen still struggle with being able to predict the future. But I think it was a good summer all in all.
With the wet summer and fall it is going to be a challenge to get all the harvest done quickly, so we will need to be patient, and don’t let yourselves get into a worse situation by rushing. Take time to enjoy the fall with its cool breezes and wonderful colors. The colors of the trees are short-lived and before you know it, the cold winter winds will be here, the colorful leaves will be gone, and the winter will really be upon us.
I hope to see all of you at our Annual Banquet on the 12th of November. It’s always good to visit with you. It will be a good meal, as usual, and you will have plenty of opportunities to catch up on how all of your farmer friends are doing.
Your Board of Directors has been working hard to increase our membership. They made their goal! And that was not so easy to do. With everyone tightening their belts it was a job well done. A special thanks to Susan Baker, Shelly Buhlman, and Merhlyn Barnes who are the ones who really deserve a congratulatory “slap on the back”.
I want to congratulate our new Miss Howard County Farm Bureau, Danielle Bauer. She also did a great job at the state contest. She is joined by the Little Miss Howard County Farm Bureau, Rachel King, and Future Howard County Farmer, Mitchell Feaga. These kids did a great job! I think we have another great generation coming along.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the up-coming Holiday Season! Once again, remember to “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
MAY 09 MESSAGE
I think that we made it! It’s warming up more each week and we are getting some rain and that’s a good thing. The daffodils are blooming and soon the Red Winged Blackbirds will be nesting in the weeds in our hay fields. I always leave a few weeds just for them, don’t you?
I hope you all enjoyed the legislative dinner. It’s always good to see everyone and it shows us that you approve of what we are doing. Your Board of Directors works hard to keep up with all the new changes and at the same time with their own farm work. With the economy in such a ditch, I can’t say rut, because I think it’s a bit deeper than that, we need to remind ourselves that we are all here together with the same problems. So don’t hesitate to tell others about how things are going, good or bad, and it will help everyone.
I was fortunate to be able to participate in Farm Bureau’s DC drive-in this year where we had, as a group, an opportunity to lobby our Congressmen and Senators. We met with each one in small groups to argue our views on how the different bills would affect us as farmers, and agriculture as a whole. We visited the Capital Visitors Center. It was all a really good experience for me. My background in how government really works is not very extensive, so this experience was quite educational for me.
It’s almost summer once again, so don’t be in too big a hurry to enjoy the early summer warmth and the nice summer days. I know that we are all very busy. But God didn’t make these nice days for everyone else. He made them for everyone. So have a great summer! Be careful! And like always, “Keep your plow in the ground; we’re all pulling for you.”
MARCH 09 MESSAGE
The winter has gone rather well, we have had some cold weather and some snow and ice, but we have done better than a lot of other parts of the country. We are not done yet, but with the days getting longer, we can easily get through what is left.
I had the opportunity to go to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention in San Antonio, Texas in early January. It was very interesting to meet so many farmers from all over the country. Our keynote speaker was Bill Bradley, a Hall of Fame basketball star for the New York Knicks and a former U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He assured us, and I agree, that we Americans will get through these tough times and will learn from the mistakes that have been made.
We went on a bus trip into the “Winter Garden” area of Texas and saw where they had already planted potatoes. We visited a feedlot, a beekeeper who had 9,000 bee hives, and a purebred Brahman breeder. We ate lunch in country music star George Strait’s home town of Pearsall, TX, though we didn’t see him. The food was great.
We are getting ready for our Legislative dinner on April 23 and I would encourage each of you to bring a friend with you who would be interested in hearing some of our legislators give us their updates on how things are going, or to just have a great dinner with friends.
We are trying to keep up with all the new bills that are being introduced. They are read and reviewed to determine whether they are in our best interests or not. We then make our commitment to be for or against them from an agricultural perspective.
I’m sure everyone is looking forward to spring, and as the days get warmer we seem to pick up the pace. But remember, there will be another good day. You don’t have to do it all today. Try to enjoy the new growth of the grass and tree’s. And be careful as you begin to run your machines – that’s everything from your lawnmowers to your corn planters.
So have a great spring and a prosperous summer. And like always “Keep your plow in the ground; we’re all pulling for you”.
MARCH 09 MESSAGE
I hope that everyone had a great Holiday Season. The past year went by so quickly that it seems to have passed more in a blurr than as a normal 12 whole months. The year ahead of us, 2009, will most likely present many new challenges for us all.
Potential economic hardships will challenge almost everyone’s efforts to stay out of financial trouble. Some good advice might be to first try to talk out any problems before they get out of hand. You might ask a friend to just listen to your ideas so that you can face each new challenge with as much good reliable information as you can assemble.
The year-end Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City went very well. We were able to get a lot of new policies introduced and accepted, including one that will help to protect our Beekeepers from unnecessary complaints from neighbors.
We are going to try to gain more support from our Nurserymen and Landscapers this year. The membership committee is working hard to encourage more of them to become interested in joining our County Farm Bureau. Next year we also plan to work on trying to interest more of the local Grape Growers and Wineries to join us in our ever more diversified county, to try and keep these industries viable through favorable legislation, ultimately for the good of Howard County.
We have a new Vice-President in place for 2009. Justin Brendel is a life-long farmer and I am looking forward to working with him in the coming years. We also have a couple of new directors on board for the coming year. Larry Barnard is a part-time grain farmer as well as a part-time builder. Phil Jones is a full-time dairy farmer. We welcome them both on the board.
I would also like to thank our secretary Merhlyn Barnes for all that she does in keeping our county organization running smoothly. And thanks to Allan Bandel, our Newsletter editor, for another year of hard work. All of the members of the Howard County Farm Bureau Board of Directors are doing a great job. My sincerest thanks go to all of them.
So, as always, please remember to, “Keep your plow in the ground. We are all pulling for you.”
NOVEMBER 08 MESSAGE
Well here we are deep into harvest and have had some of the greatest weather. We are dry but this kind of weather is the next best thing.
We all hope to see you at the Annual Dinner meeting on November 13. For more details, please refer to the announcement elsewhere in this newsletter. We have new board members to nominate and bring on board, and we also will have our election of officers.
We are getting ready for Maryland Farm Bureau’s annual convention in Ocean City. If anyone would like to serve as a delegate, please let us know. I had the honor and privilege of being invited recently to the Frederick County and Carroll County Farm Bureau Dinners. Our neighbors are doing quite well and gave me a very warm welcome.
I hope that all of you are doing well. Try not to get in too big a hurry and make any costly mistakes. Have a wonderful Holiday Season and I will look forward to communicating with you next year. Like always, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
SEPTEMBER 08 MESSAGE
Where did the summer go? Seems that we were waiting for the weather to warm up just a few weeks ago. I hope everyone has had a good summer, a season that is quickly coming to an end. I do like the fall though. It is my favorite season.
I hope that you all got a chance to visit the Howard County Fair. We have a new Miss Howard County Farm Bureau. Miss Caitlin Patrick is the daughter of Denny and Nancy Patrick of Maple Dell Farm in Woodbine. I would like to thank Laura Bradley for the great job that she did as the 2007 Miss Howard County farm Bureau.
Seems that we are all busy with our comings and goings. But I hope that everyone will take time to enjoy the last of the summer. Before you know it, we will be into the busy fall harvest season and then the holidays.
Until next time, have a great end of the summer and a wonderful fall. And like always, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
MAY 08 MESSAGE
I hope everyone had a great Easter. It certainly came early this year. And how about that time change coming so early?. We are soon going to be in the fields at full go. I hope that we will all be careful. It’s so easy to get in a rush. That’s when accidents happen.
This spring has been a dry one, but maybe by the time this newsletter goes to print we will have caught up on spring rains. We definitely do not need another drought this year.
Our membership committee, Susan Baker and Shelly Buhlman, are doing a great job with trying to recruit new members to keep our organization strong and in an effort to help make our laws work for us. It was gratifying to have a good turnout at our Annual Legislative Dinner on April 10. I hope that everyone present got a chance to ask the questions that they wanted to ask – and got the answers too.
It has been one year on the job for me now as your president. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all they have done to help me with the responsibilities that the office entails. I especially want to thank Merhlyn Barnes, our County Farm Bureau Secretary. She is always right on top of things. And your Farm Bureau Board of Directors has been very willing to quickly step up to each task. For their enthusiasm, I am very grateful. And last, but not least, I want to thank you, the members, for your great interest in this organization. It has meant a lot and has ultimately been what has kept us all going.
Well that’s it for now. I hope everyone has a wonderful spring and like always, “Keep your plow in the ground. We’re all pulling for you.”
MARCH 08 MESSAGE
The winter has been pretty good so far this year. I hope everyone is doing well. The dry summer is still plaguing us with a shortage of winter feed. Thankfully we are past Ground Hog Day now and that is about the half-way point of the winter feeding season, although most of us have been winter feeding since September or earlier. So, we are two thirds through the winter feeding time. Let’s hope the rest of the winter will be mild.
This time of year our Membership committee is hard at work to get our membership up to meet the state’s expectations and that is not an easy task. Our committee is reaching out to many new potential members with the hopes of getting some more new innovative thinkers into our organization. I hope all of you will try to encourage your neighbors that may not be familiar with the Farm Bureau to join, so that we can have the support to carry on with our job, to guide the governing powers to help us to keep the laws working for agriculture.
As we do enroll our neighbors, I would encourage all of us, traditional dairy, beef, swine, and crop farmers, that have dwindled in numbers but not in importance to the farm bureau, to welcome these new members and their idea’s so that we can include those horse, sheep, goat, beekeepers, landscapers and other agriculture related business’s into our organization.
With springtime fast approaching we will all be anxious to get out and start our field work. We need to take time now to get our machinery and our bodies ready to work all summer. So start slow and work up to those heavy loads and try not to over-do it the first good day. And like always, don’t forget to “keep your plow in the ground, we’re all pulling for you.”
JANUARY 08 MESSAGE
I hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving, a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a healthy and prosperous New Year!
This past December, I had the privilege of attending the 92nd Annual Maryland Farm Bureau Meeting in Ocean City. There was a lot of time spent working on Farm Bureau policy and we all worked hard to see that they were the way you all would like to have them written I was really impressed with the process and must admit that I learned, and am still learning, how this process works. If you don’t think your dues are worth the $60.00 you pay, you need to experience these meetings. The Farm Bureau is our voice when it comes to having valuable input in the policies of our State and County laws.
We heard several very good speakers, one being Chad Hymas a young paraplegic farmer who had a terrible accident with a round bale that rolled over him while on the tractor. His message of encouragement was that you should be ready and able to change your life when things change, and that you should be thankful for what you have whether it is good or bad, it is what you make it.
Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke on making agriculture profitable to our family farms and promised to help make that happen. Dr.Cheng-I Wei, Dean and Director of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland, was also there to update us on the college’s latest improvements and programs.
Your Board of Directors, after taking a much needed break for the Holidays, is ready to go back to work for all of you. Thank you for all of your support during the past year. I would also like to thank the Board and your Secretary Merhlyn Barnes for all their help during my first year as your President and like always don’t forget – keep your plow in the ground we’re all pulling for you!
NOVEMBER 07 MESSAGE
I would like to welcome on board the new members of the Board of Directors; David Patrick, Mike Clark, and Shelly Buhlman. David is a well known dairy farmer and breeder of champion Ayrshire and Holstein dairy cattle as well as an artificial inseminator. Mike is a beef, hogs and crops farmer. Shelly boards horses, trains them and works with the Pony Club. Mickey Day is your new Vice President and I will be back for another year as President.
Will it ever rain? How many times have we thought, said, or been asked that question this year. I can say that we have made it this far and we will be wet before you know it. I have always thought that God steps on us until he steps on someone else so I guess we will just have to take our turn. Hang in there. You can do it!
We will soon be entering into the fall and winter seasons and along with that comes the Holidays. Halloween is a fun night, so be patient with all the knocks on the door. Remember, when was the last time you had that many people wanting to visit you.
Then comes Thanksgiving, a holiday that helps us get started on bringing our winter weight up. Soon afterwards, Christmas encourages us all to get into the spirit of giving. And then with the start of the New Year, we resolve once more that we are going to change our bad habits.
Hopefully we can enjoy all the things we’ve been given and stop dwelling on what we don’t have. We are all ready for another year of hard work, so don’t forget … Keep your plow in the ground we’re all pulling for you.