Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve is an important environmental resource for future farm enterprises. A strong agricultural heritage provides a diverse business community and a strong economic base. Combining these strengths with the commitment for farmland preservation makes Montgomery County an attractive place to live and work.
Agricultural activities occupy about one-third of Montgomery County's land area. Over half of the 93,000-acre Agriculture Reserve is preserved through transfer of development rights or easement purchase initiatives.
The County's diverse agricultural industry's 561 farms and 350 horticultural enterprises produce more than $243 million in economic contribution from agricultural products and operations. The majority of Montgomery County farms are family-run operations, many reaching back several generations, which employ more than 10,000 residents. Of the County's 561 farms, 43% are farmed as a primary occupation.
During the past 25 years, the Horticultural Sector has grown dramatically. The 350 horticultural businesses employ more than 7,000 of the people working in agriculture. With gross sales of $125 million annually, horticulture is one of the largest sector in agriculture and includes nurseries and landscaping companies, arborists, sod farms and lawn care firms, and green house businesses.
Twenty percent of the horticultural industry in Maryland is in the County and Montgomery County ranks second in the State in total number of horticultural firms.
Horses have become a major component of the agricultural industry numbering almost 10,000 horses. Horses represent a tremendous opportunity for farmers in terms of the supplies, services and products needed to support the horse population, which exceeds the population of all other livestock combined. The growing hay industry in Montgomery County is directly proportional to the growing number of horses. High quality veterinarians that provide services to horses are now available for other livestock operations in the County.
Agriculture for the Future
Montgomery County is committed to sustaining a viable agricultural industry. The Agricultural Reserve, established in 1980 by the Preservation of Agriculture and Rural Open Space Functional Master Plan, provides 93,000 acres for farming.
A variety of private organizations assist farmers to prosper in Montgomery County: Farm Bureau, Farm Tour Committee, Agricultural Advisory Committee, Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board and Montgomery County Farmers Markets work together with the Cooperative Extension Service, Soil Conservation District, Department of Economic Development, and Farm Service Agency.
Montgomery County Agricultural Facts Available for Download: