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Last week at the 7th Agricultural & Environmental Law Conference, attendees heard from numerous experts on a variety of topics - if you missed the conference you can check out the recorded presentations on the ALEI webpage on December 1, 2021. Presenters for Strengthening Local Food Systems Through Law and Policy: the Role of Food Policy Councils and the Certified Local Farm Enterprise Program discussed the concerns within Maryland’s food system that have come to light over the past few years and the solutions that are being explored by state and local stakeholders.
The recently established Certified Local Farm Enterprise Program (CLFEP) spearheaded by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is one effort that will encourage state agencies, including public four-year universities, to achieve an overall goal of purchasing 20% of their food from MDA’s directory of certified local farm enterprises.
A certified local farm enterprise is one that meets specified nutrient management requirements in current Maryland law and is certified by MDA. The program regulations are currently in development but scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, MDA has started compiling the Certified Local Farm Enterprise Directory to help state purchasers connect with qualifying producers.
According to Maryland State Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, who co-wrote the legislation that created the CLFEP, the motivations for the purchasing standard include increasing consumption of local foods. According to Del. Charkoudian, another benefit of the CLFEP is acknowledging the internalized costs Maryland producers incur when they comply with nutrient management plans and implement practices that reduce pollutant run-off into the Chesapeake Bay. Out-of-state producers can become certified local farm enterprises but, in order to do so, they must operate with a nutrient management plan. The CLFEP requirement for nutrient management compliance equalizes the playing field between Maryland and out-of-state growers who are not legally required to have nutrient management plans.
How can my farm become a certified local farm enterprise?
Register. Complete the short online application – you can also fill it out by hand, just print the online form and mail it to MDA. NOTE - starting in December, the application will be available only via Maryland OneStop.
Farm verification. MDA will verify that you have a nutrient management plan. Out-of-state producers, who may not be required by their state law to have a plan, can still qualify for the directory if they can provide proof that they satisfy the program’s nutrient management plan requirements.
Certification. Producers will receive notification that their farm is certified once the nutrient management plan is verified. Contact information, list of products, and certification number will be placed in the certified local farm enterprises public directory for state agencies to access. MDA will ask for updates to directory information once a year.
What is the cost to become a Certified Local Farm Enterprise? There is no cost to become a Certified Local Farm Enterprise.
Anyone with questions can reach out to the CLFEP Director Karen Fedor by Phone: (410) 841-5773; or email, karen.fedor @ maryland.gov.