Farm group schedules meetings

September 19, 1994|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,Sun Staff Writer

In an attempt to promote the understanding of agriculture in the community, the Howard County Farm Bureau has begun sponsoring bimonthly breakfast meetings.

Patterning the meetings after Carroll County's highly successful morning meetings, the bureau will offer breakfast and a speaker at 8 a.m. on the third Thursday of every other month at the 4-H Building on the Howard County Fairgrounds.

Thursday's meeting -- the first Howard County Agri-Business Breakfast -- attracted 55 people to a buffet and a talk by Gene Swackhammer, president and chief executive officer of the Farm Credit Bank of Baltimore.

"I was extremely happy with the number of people who attended," said Martha Clark, president of the 484-member bureau. "We had a real diversity in the audience, including representatives of county agencies, farmers, bankers, real estate and insurance. That diversity means that we are doing what we (( set out to do."

The group's goal in organizing the breakfasts is "to have an opportunity for people to both socialize and communicate about issues of agriculture and other things," Ms. Clark said. "I think it's a golden opportunity to get together, not just for farmers but for the entire community."

A key to future success will be to continue to involve business people, as well as members of the agricultural sector, said Charlotte Mullinix, a director of the group.

"Farmers will be able to let their needs be known and make contacts, because the meetings will be a chance to talk about the problems of agriculture. But we will also have a pretty broad spectrum of other issues," Ms. Mullinix said.

To ensure that business people attend, the speakers will end their talks at 9 a.m., letting people leave for work on time, Ms. Clark said.

In Carroll County, where the county's Agri-Business Club sponsors monthly meetings of 60 to 100 people at a Westminster restaurant, the group's regular presence has enabled the agricultural community to become a more active voice in government affairs, said Bill Collins, past president of the group.

"We view the breakfast meetings in Carroll [County] as being extremely valuable, and we're not just patting ourselves on the back," Mr. Collins said. "We now get consulted regularly on issues affecting agriculture."

Previous meetings of the Carroll County group have included topics such as state government from the perspective of a legislator, farm financing and how to use the county's new voting machines.

Ms. Clark said the Howard County Farm Bureau hopes to duplicate its neighboring group's efforts, including the breadth of topics and -- assuming future meetings are as well attended as the first one -- eventually making the meetings monthly instead of bimonthly.

Although no speakers have been set for future meetings, the topic of the November meeting likely will be commodity pricing, Ms. Clark said, because that is the month that farmers begin selling their crops for the following summer.

The group plans to meet in September, November, January, March and May but not in July.

Further information about the Howard County Agri-Business Breakfasts is available from Ms. Mullinix at (410) 489-4510.

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