During a visit to the Eastern Shore on Monday, Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder toured the J.M. Clayton crab processing plant in Cambridge in support of House Bill 120, which would move the state’s seafood and aquaculture marketing program from the Department of Natural Resources back to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. During the visit, Governor Hogan gave brief remarks and unveiled a new logo concept for “Maryland’s Best Seafood.”
“This bill is an important step toward recognising the bond between farmers and watermen,” said Governor Hogan. “As Marylanders, we all know that Maryland is home to the best seafood, and with a strong marketing plan from the Department of Agriculture, Maryland will be open to new markets and opportunities for our watermen.”
HB120 will move the program back to the Agriculture Department, where it will join the existing Agriculture Marketing and Development Program. The House Environment and Transportation Committee held a hearing on February 8 where the departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources and several industry leaders testified in support of the bill with no opposition.
“House Bill 120 is a common sense solution that has a consensus of support from the industry and the state,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Our department’s marketing program has made great strides in supporting and promoting local agriculture products, and I am confident that we can have the same success with the state’s seafood and aquaculture industry.”
The bill would create new “Maryland’s Best Seafood” branding for locally produced products. The industry would also benefit from established relationships with distributors, restaurants, grocery chains and other institutions, in addition to the department’s experience in promoting products to international buyers through the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA).
Along with the marketing program, HB120 will move approximately $190,000 in special funds from fees collected on commercial watermen and processing licenses by the Department of Natural Resources. In addition to this funding, the department will be able to pursue further funding from USDA and other grants to support the new program.
The department’s written testimony on HB120 is available online.
Source Maryland Department of Agriculture/PerishableNews