Farm Bureau to protest state merger Group plans trip to Annapolis

February 04, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Carroll County's Farm Bureau voted last night to rent a bus to go to Annapolis to show state legislators the agricultural community's opposition to the proposed merger of the state Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources.

The merger bill, sponsored by House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, would merge the two departments and immediately cut their combined budgets by 20 percent.

"When a small group is merged into a large group, the small one takes the cut right away," said Maryland Farm Bureau employee Joe Diamond.

Bureau members also said they are concerned that the recent quarantines on the Eastern Shore to protect chickens from avian influenza will reduce the number of farmers attending the hearing on Mr. Mitchell's bill on Tuesday.

"Growers have been told not to leave the farm and not let anyone on the farm," Mr. Diamond said. "The concern is that there won't be a great turnout, so we're depending heavily on the Western Shore."

Farm Bureau representatives urged the farmers to visit their legislators to explain why they oppose the bill.

"You can't just come out and be opposed, you need to tell them why," Mr. Diamond said.

Bureau members also discussed how the Agriculture Department doesn't benefit only farmers.

"A significant portion of the Department of Agriculture budget is consumer protection in weights and measures," said Melvin Baile Jr., a New Windsor grain farmer.

"This looks like farmers going to protect their department, but it serves all the citizens of Maryland," he said.

The Department of Agriculture also handles Chesapeake Bay protection programs and pesticide registration, members said.

The buses will leave the Carroll County Agricultural Center at 10 a.m. Tuesday and are expected to arrive back in Westminster about 4 p.m.

Some Farm Bureau members said members of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce have expressed interest in making the Annapolis trip.

Those interested in going with the group should call the Carroll County Farm Bureau office or sign up at this weekend's Ag Days at Cranberry Mall.

Information: 857-5503.

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