WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Congressmen, Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.-2), John Sarbanes (Md.-3), Kweisi Mfume (Md.-7), Jamie Raskin(Md.-8) David Trone (Md.-6), and Glenn Ivey (Md.-4) welcomed Kevin M. Atticks, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture and Rafael López, Maryland Secretary of Human Services to the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to discuss federal priorities for Marylanders including agriculture, one of Maryland’s top industries. The discussion also covered vital issues such as access to locally grown food, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit theft and replacement, resource conservation, soil health, invasive species, avian flu response and more.
“Agriculture’s impact on the health of Marylanders is one of the most important issues facing our state. As our state agencies work to address issues like food insecurity and environmental justice, it is critical that we work together to ensure that they can leverage federal resources,” said Senator Cardin. “Our number one priority is protecting access to nutrition programs in the federal Farm Bill and strengthening existing conservation and commodity programs that keep our communities healthy and sustainable.”
“Maryland’s agriculture industry is part of the economic backbone of our state – keeping our communities fed and our economy growing. We’ve fought to deliver critical investments in our rural and agricultural communities — from historic funding for broadband deployment to targeted federal investments in workforce development, infrastructure, and more. As we work on this year’s upcoming Farm Bill, we will keep fighting alongside our state partners to support our farm and seafood industries and enhance Marylanders’ access to affordable, healthy food,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Agriculture is at an inflection point, and an effective Farm Bill will serve both the farmer and the community. The industry needs greater resources in order to utilize best management practices for resource conservation, as well as addressing food insecurity. Maryland Agriculture makes up $8.25 billion in economic development annually,” said Secretary Atticks. “A national effort to support food production, food resiliency and the viability of the industry is critical. We commend our federal delegation for their leadership representing Maryland’s food system.”
“The Farm Bill, especially through its authorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), plays a key role in ensuring that over 772,000 Marylanders (1 in 8) are able to buy nutritious food,” said Secretary López. “The Department of Human Services is working with Team Maryland to ensure that SNAP is reauthorized and maintained in the 2023 Farm Bill, and that there is continued reimbursement for stolen SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) benefits.”
“The farm bill isn’t just for farmers, but all Marylanders who care about food security, environmental protection and economic development,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. “From Chesapeake Bay conservation and the invasive blue catfish to the theft of SNAP benefits, the farm bill provides us with a tremendous opportunity – and responsibility – to address challenges affecting Maryland and Marylanders head-on. I thank the Moore administration for sharing its priorities and look forward to collaborating on solutions that will benefit our entire state.”
“The Farm Bill is an opportunity to invest in one of Maryland’s most cherished natural resources: the Chesapeake Bay,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “I am grateful for the opportunity to sit down with Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Kevin M. Atticks, Maryland Secretary of Human Services Rafael Lopez and members of the Maryland delegation today to discuss our state priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill, which include providing resources to support working farmers and fishers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in our combined efforts to restore and protect the Bay. Together, we are working to conserve this national treasure and ensure Maryland’s agriculture and aquaculture industries thrive for generations to come.”
“Every five years, the Farm Bill gives us an opportunity to prioritize how the federal government approaches everything from crop insurance for rural farmers to food assistance for families in need. I was pleased to confirm that the State Secretaries share the federal delegation’s human services and agricultural priorities for the Baltimore area. With billions of dollars at stake, it is important we start and end on the same page – which I know we will,” said Congressman Mfume.
“This year’s Farm Bill presents a critical opportunity to protect and increase SNAP benefits, ensuring that our most vulnerable families have access to healthy and affordable food,” said Congressman Raskin. “As Congress considers updates and improvements to the Farm Bill, it is essential that we repel all efforts to slash conservation funding made available in the Inflation Reduction Act, which will help more farmers participate in voluntary climate-smart farming practices. Thank you to Secretaries Atticks and Lopez for your steadfast work in support of all Marylanders.”
“As someone who grew up on a 200-acre chicken and hog farm, I will never underestimate the vital role farmers play in our economy,” said Congressman David Trone. “Every five years, we renew our commitment to our agricultural sector through the federal Farm Bill, to advocate for Maryland’s farms and the surrounding communities. This time is no different: Team Maryland remains laser-focused on ensuring fresh food is accessible and affordable, the environment is protected, and farmers and their families are supported – for generations to come.”
“It is very important to work with our state cabinet members to address ongoing concerns for our community. I appreciate the Moore Administration’s efforts to make their top policy makers available to us so that programs, grants and services are as seamless and coordinated as possible to best serve our constituents and all Marylanders,” said Congressman Glenn Ivey.