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Conference Name Traveling Tobacco Road: Diversifying Risk in a Post –Tobacco Era

Ben Beale

Summary

As a result of the Maryland tobacco buyout program and the changing land use in Southern Maryland, there is a critical need for the development of alternative agricultural enterprises. In the last five years 85% of eligible tobacco producers representing over 700 tobacco producers opted for the buyout option, which prohibits them from ever again producing tobacco. Creating programs that enable intensive small family farms to reduce risk, remain profitable long term and sustain the agricultural community can be very challenging. This talk will focus on experiences with two avenues for accomplishing such a goal: 1) Business planning through a Farm Viability Program 2) Finding market outlets for alternative crops. The Farm Viability program provides individual operators grant funding if the producer can develop a business plan that is seen as viable by the Tri-County Council Commission (Administers of the program). Resource teams assist with the planning process and follow up support of the operation. Finding marketing outlets can be challenging given the differences between wholesale tobacco auctions and alternative enterprise markets. This talk will focus on the process of finding alternative markets and specifically the establishment of a private funded community produce auction.

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