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US (MD): Governor announces launch of cover crop program supporting urban agriculture

Governor Larry Hogan announced the launch of a Small Acreage Cover Crop Program to support small farm producers and urban agriculture. The pilot program is operated by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and is aimed at helping historically underserved farmers and communities build healthy soils, increase yields, sequester carbon, and improve local water quality. Financial assistance for this program is capped at $1,000 per grower per year.

“The incredible character, work ethic, and resilience of our farmers has been an inspiration to me and to all Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “Grant programs like these demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that all our farmers continue to be good stewards of the land and that agriculture remains our state’s number one industry.”

Maryland’s Small Acreage Cover Crop Program is the first in a series of statewide financial assistance programs to be introduced by MDA’s new Small Farm and Urban Agriculture Program. It will provide needed financial and technical assistance to support small-scale farms located in urban, peri-urban, rural, and suburban areas. The goal of the program is to increase community access to healthy foods by helping farmers adopt environmentally sound practices.

Small-scale producers who may not qualify for traditional cover crop programs are encouraged to apply for these grants. Program highlights include:

  • Urban agricultural growers and small farmers who plant five or fewer acres of a cover crop may apply for cover crop grants.
  • Eligible species to be planted include cover crop seed mixes or single cereal grains.
  • Cover crops may be planted in open plots, raised beds, or a high tunnel following the harvest of a production crop (vegetables, herbs, flowers, sorghum, soybeans, hemp, millet, or tobacco).
  • Growers should plant fall cover crops following seed company recommendations, but later than November 30, 2022.
  • Growers will be reimbursed based on paid receipts with a maximum payment of up to $1,000 per growing season.

“Interest in small-scale and urban agriculture is on the rise, both nationally and here in Maryland,” said MDA Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “In recent years, the department has seen a high demand for fresh, safe, locally grown food in communities statewide. Our Small Acreage Cover Crop Program will provide needed state funds to help urban and smaller producers improve and protect the natural resources that support fresh healthy food.”

The Small Acreage Cover Crop Program is funded by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and managed by MDA’s Conservation Grants Program. Growers who want to apply for these grants should contact Bill Tharpe, Program Administrator for the Small Farm and Urban Agriculture Program, at [email protected] or 410-841-5869.

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