The Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board (MGPUB) has awarded $836,719 in grants to increase the profitability of Maryland grain production, expand the utilization of grain, and to improve public understanding of agriculture. Grant funds for market development, education, and research are made available through the Maryland Grain Checkoff Program. The checkoff program is 100% farmer funded. It is farmers helping their own industry and those consumers that benefit from their products.
“It is always a difficult task to decide which projects to allocate funds”, stated Jennie Schmidt, President of MGPUB and farmer in Queen Anne’s County. “Because the checkoff funds are based on a percentage of a farmer’s net grain sales, the level of funding varies each year depending on market prices and yields. With this year’s low prices, we saw a significant drop in funding and had to cut the budget. Though our board realizes all the grants applied for have value, we really had to weigh the benefits of each when deciding which projects to fund and at what level.”
Funds for the 2017 grant period were allocated to projects in the areas of market development ($454,221), education ($262,560), and research ($119,938). A significant share of funding in the market development category helps secure matching funds and maximizes efforts of selling Maryland grain products worldwide. The majority of education funding supports Maryland Farm and Harvest, Maryland Public Television’s top-rated and award-winning show and local extension programs.
Funding for projects that scientifically assess management practices and improve sustainability have always carried a priority. “Maryland agriculture has continually achieved our Chesapeake Bay clean-up goals ahead of schedule. We believe in continual improvements on the farm as they become available through proven science, to protect our resources while providing essential food, fiber and energy products for the consumer,” comments Schmidt.
Maryland’s Grain Checkoff Program has been in effect since 1991 and collects a half a percent of the net value of grain sold. The MGPUB administers the funds through a board consisting of regional grain farmer representatives and advisory members representing the University of Maryland, Maryland Department of Agriculture, affiliated national grain organizations and agri-businesses in the state. Funded projects are specific to the needs of Maryland's grain farmers.