With a County population quickly approaching a million residents, the diversity of interest and needs within our community continues to expand. This includes interest in local food production, bringing the best Montgomery County has to offer from its farms directly to your table! Montgomery County's Agricultural Industry is equally diverse, offering a variety of choices and personal preferences to our residents. Whether your interest is in one of our numerous Farmers Markets, on Farm Markets, or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) there is something for every resident within the the County.
From My Backyard To Our Bay
From My Backyard to Our Bay is a resident's guide to improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, one backyard at a time. Inside, you will find tips on maintaining a healthy lawn, managing stormwater runoff, composting, recycling, reducing energy use, and many more topics that will benefit both you and your family, and the environment. Take a look inside and see what you are already doing and what more you can do to help keep the Bay healthy and clean.
From My Backyard to Our Bay was produced as a cooperative effort among Montgomery County Department of Economic Development-Agricultural Services Division, Montgomery County Farm Bureau, Montgomery Soil Conservaton District, Howard County Economic Development Authority, Howard Soil Conservation District, Howard County Farm Bureau, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
Local Agricultural Products and Producers Logos
"The Pride of Montgomery County Agricultural Products" logo is used on agricultural products that originate in Montgomery County. Stickers of this logo and the Agricultural Reserve are available from the Agricultural Services Division for schools, 4H groups, and others interested in promoting local agriculture.
"The Pride of Montgomery County Agricultural Producer" logo is used to promote local agricultural businesses in the County. Metal signs measuring 30"x 36" with this logo and a space for the individual farm's name are available from the Agricultural Services Division. The signs cost $45 and the Division will cost-share on the expense of a custom-printed high quality adhesive sticker displaying the farm's name. Please contact us at (301) 590-2810 for more information.
Do you live near a Farm? If you’re planning to buy or sell a home in a rural area or near farmland, this notification requirement may apply to you.
In an effort to promote the primary land-use of agriculture and farming in the Agricultural Reserve, the County Council passed Bill number 12-07, Real Property – Agricultural Zones - Disclosure effective January 14, 2008 (pdf). The purpose of Bill 12-07 is to inform and educate potential residents in agriculturally zoned areas that agriculture is the preferred land-use and farming operations are permitted at all times. Residents and other occupants of property within or near land in agricultural zones should be prepared to accept the effects of usual and customary agricultural operations, facilities, and practices, including noise, odors, dust, smoke, insects, operation of machinery, storage and disposal of manure, unusual hours of operation, and other agricultural activities.
Bill 12-07 states, “if any real property is located in, adjoins, or confronts an area zoned agriculture…the seller must disclose to each prospective buyer, before the buyer signs a contract for the sale of the property, that existing County and State law is intended to discourage owners of real property adjacent to agriculture-zoned land from filing certain lawsuits against an owner or operator of an agricultural use in those areas.”
In a continuing effort to educate the general public on the importance and presence of agriculture within the County, an Agricultural Reserve Signage program was created. These Agricultural Reserve signs will help to inform the residents when they are entering the Agricultural Reserve and will serve to further promote this valuable economic and environmental resource. There are five locations along State Roads where the Agricultural Reserve Signs will be located. They are as follows: Routes 27, 28, 97, 108, and 109.
Agricultural Emergency Assistance Program (Ag. EAP)
The lack of normal rainfall during the 1990's created tremendous economic hardship on County farmers. The droughts of 1997 and 1999 will be recorded as some of the worst during the 21st Century. In an attempt to provide financial assistance to farmers, Montgomery County created the first County funded Drought Assistance Program in the nation.
In 1997, the County approved $500,000 which was distributed to 67 farmers covering over 26,254 acres. In 1999, $1.0 million was approved and these funds were distributed to 94 farmers covering over 36,590 acres.
2007 brought another drought, and losses projected to exceed $13 million. The County approved $1.5 milion for distribution to impacted farmers. Producers who had both a current Nutrient Management Plan (if required) and a Soil Conservation Plan or District Cooperators Agreement on record were eligible for assistance based on the crop produced and acreage farmed.
For the 2007 program, $1.446 million dollars was distributed to 85 producers, covering 30,418 acres impacted by the drought.
% of Funds
% of Acres
Ag EAP Payment
Corn for Grain/Silage
Total for crops**
*Other includes tobacco and Christmas trees
**An additional 2,855.23 acres met criteria but were not covered due to payment cap.
An additional 2,718 acres had yields reduced by less than 20% and were not covered.
Total eligible acres: 27,699.31
Eligible plus ineligible acres: 30,418.01
The AgEAP program was administered by DED agricultural services and serves as an example of Montgomery County's commitment to preserve both farmland and the business of farming. Many farmers would not be in business today if the County Government had not created this critical program to help farmers in their time of need.
The Agricultural Services Division assists County farmers in marketing their agricultural products through diverse initiatives such as the Farm Tour, Farmers Markets, and the Farm Directory. The Division wants to help farmers connect with retail and wholesale customers in the region as part of its continuing effort to improve agricultural viability in Montgomery County.
Annual Farm Tour & Harvest Sale: This initiative helps to promote the sale of agricultural products from farms located primarily Up County, including farms located in the Agricultural Reserve.
We are now in the process of developing a new Montgomery County Farm Directory. If you are an agricultural producer who wishes to be included in the new farm directory, please click on this link to access the Farm Directory Application form and return to the address indicated on the form by December 13, 2013.
If you are looking for help in developing a business plan for your farm, information on alternative crops and new business opportunities, requirements for on-farm processing of agricultural crops, or other related questions, check the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center website for upcoming seminars, trainings, and conferences that target these subjects.
In response to a 2004 landowner survey revealing the increasing environmental, health, safety and economic problems caused by the overpopulation of white-tailed deer, Montgomery County DED and other County departments developed and implemented deer-related initiatives and expanded existing deer monitoring and management programs. The Agricultural Services Division is working in conjunction with M-NCPPC, the Deer Management Work Group, Montgomery Soil Conservation District, University of Maryland-Extension and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as part of this County-wide deer management effort.
Deer Management Workshops and the Deer Donation Program
Two initiatives are helping farmers overcome the problems caused by white-tailed deer. Deer Management Workshops are designed to educate farmers and hunters about effective deer management on private property. The Deer Donation Program encourages farmers and hunters to harvest more deer in a responsible manner by providing a local, minimum-hassle deer collection site. It is administered in partnership with William F. Willard Farm, LLC and Patriot Wildlife Management Services, to coordinate the collection, processing and donation of venison to local area food banks. Download the Deer Donation Program flyer to find out how to donate deer in Montgomery County.
Deer Donation Program - Deer Collected and Pounds of Venison Donated
The Deer Donation Program has invested $180,000 over nine years. The value of the program is calculated to be $707,515.00. This is based on the value of the meat collected (64,560 lbs at $2/lb) and the value of the commodity grain in the farmers’ fields not consumed by these deer. 1,614 deer harvested, 2,000 lbs of grain saved for each deer harvested, average value of all commodity grain estimated at $10.50/bushel).
The combined efforts of the County’s agricultural community and County government encouraged the 2008 Maryland State Legislature to pass into law that Montgomery County be removed from the list of jurisdictions in which hunting on Sundays is completely prohibited. One Sunday of bow hunting and one Sunday of firearms hunting have been added to the County’s hunting season, and it is estimated that these two extra days of hunting may increase the deer harvest by as much as 15%, providing farmers another valuable tool in managing the deer on their properties.
The agricultural industry consumes large quantities of energy, and the rising cost of fuel, propane, electricity and the associated energy taxes threaten the economic viability of County agriculture. The Agricultural Services Division administers Fuel-Energy Tax Program for Certified Agricultural Producers, through which qualified agricultural producers pay the County's energy tax at a lower residential rather than an industrial rate. Any producer with property encumbered by an AEP, MALPF or RLP farm preservation easement or enrolled with one or more specified County, state or federal programs or agencies is eligible for this reduced fuel-energy tax rate.
Information on the Certified Agricultural Producers Program
Technical Assistance with the Regulatory and Legislative Process
The Agricultural Services staff provide technical assistance to farmers and agricultural business owners who need to obtain necessary approval and permits to expand farming operations. This assistance also includes the representation of farmers as part of the regulatory and legislative process. Agricultural Services helps to represent the needs and interests of farmers in County government.
The Agricultural Services Division also works to educate the public and the government about County agriculture so that each remains sensitive to the challenges of farming in a largely urbanized county. Through education, the Division also promotes rural economic development opportunities in the County's Agricultural Reserve.
Between 1960 and 2003, Maryland experienced a loss of 1.67 million acres of farmland. At the same time, the population increased by over 2 million people. Population trends show no sign of slowing; farm acreage loss also continues. New state residents are living on land that was once in agriculture. In correlation, overall fertilizer use for the state of Maryland has shown a general upward trend. Even as farmers, working from scientifically established nutrient standards, have learned to grow more on less land through a judicious application of fertilizers, the use of fertilizers by the general populace has increased noticeably.
All residents of the State contribute to the waste streams that flow to the Chesapeake Bay. Until we get our arms around the management and use of urban fertilizers, we will not make appreciative gains in the improvement of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. It is inappropriate to continue blaming farmers for poor water quality, particularly since nutrient management goals are not being achieved even as farmers continue to come into compliance with the nutrient management laws of the State, and the farm use of fertilizers trends downward.
Equine operations have evolved into a major component of the agricultural industry, with more than 700 operations stabling almost 10,000 horses in Montgomery County. Horses represent a tremendous opportunity for farmers and agricultural supply dealers because of the equipment, 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. As an added benefit, traditional livestock producers have access to high quality veterinarians that provide services to horses.
In 2001, the County completed a comprehensive study on the importance of horses and their economic contribution as part of the County's Agricultural Industry. This study was conducted in cooperation between the Montgomery Soil Conservation District and the Department of Economic Development - Agricultural Services Division.
In 2008, the County completed a second survey of equestrians and stable owners in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development - Agricultural Services Division, Montgomery Soil Conservation District, Maryland Cooperative Extension - Montgomery County, Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, Equestrian Partners in Conservation (EPIC) and others. This effort helped County agencies better understand this growing demographic of the agricultural community and determine ways to better serve its members.
Weeds such as Johnsongrass, shattercane, and thistle pose a danger to the productive capability of all non-forested lands, and these weeds have been classified as noxious and prohibited by State law. Landowners are obligated to control these weeds on any lands they own or operate in the State of Maryland. In cooperation with the Agricultural Services Division and the Maryland Department of Agriculutre, Montgomery Weed Control, Inc. provides a service to farmers and other landowners in need of control options for these noxious weeds.