UMD Collegiate Farm Bureau Delegation Holds Legislative Day in Annapolis
While most students at the University of Maryland (UMD) made a Spring Break beeline to the beach, Institute of Applied Agriculture student Becky Jones and her three determined colleagues traveled to the state capital in Annapolis on March 23 for a day-long visit with legislators and lobbyists involved in the state’s agricultural industry. Jones was accompanied by Gracie Brinsfield, Gabrielle Cory, and Emily Solis, and IAA faculty members Ed Priola, Larisa Cioaca, and Meredith Epstein.
^Taking in 245 years of legislative history: Gracie Brinsfield, Gabrielle Cory, Becky Jones, Emily Solis (front row), Parker Welch, Meredith Epstein, and Ed Priola (back row) on the steps of the Maryland State House.
According to Jones, President of the Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at UMD and a first-year Agricultural Business Management student at the IAA, her group made the trek because they were “determined to become the fresh voice of Maryland’s agricultural community.” Jones underscored this point by noting that, despite having just received its official university recognition in February, the UMD Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter has been active in a number of Farm Bureau and campus initiatives, including Collegiate Discussion Meets in Ocean City, Md. and Pittsburgh, Pa. The Annapolis visit was their first legislative engagement activity, she added.
UMD Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter was formally recognized on the floor of the Maryland State Senate chamber by Senator Gail Bates of District 9, which includes rural parts of both Howard County and Carroll County. Subsequently, Jones and her colleagues sat down for a working breakfast with Parker Welch, the Maryland Farm Bureau’s Eastern Shore Regional Director and Young Farmers Committee Staffer. Welch briefed the students on the Farm Bureau’s advocacy resources, state and federal rule-making processes, and the chief policy priorities of Maryland’s farming community.
Once up to date, Jones and her colleagues met with Delegate Trent Kittleman of District 9A in her legislative office. Kittleman facilitated a discussion on the current challenges facing Maryland’s food production community.
While waiting to attend legislative hearings, the UMD group met with Colby Ferguson, the Maryland Farm Bureau’s Government Relations Director, outside the Maryland Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. During the encounter, Ferguson provided a detailed appraisal of relevant committee events and his organization’s related efforts. The students pledged to take an active role in promoting agriculture on the College Park campus and beyond.
The Collegiate Farm Bureau at the University of Maryland helps students build professional networks, discuss issues impacting agriculture, understand the legislative processes, promote agriculture as an industry, and gain experience in agricultural leadership and communication. Lecturers from the IAA serve as faculty advisors.