(Posted Wed. Mar 8th, 2017)
Ongoing curiosity to better understand the environmental ramifications of farming near the Chesapeake Bay brought an unforeseen bonus for the Maryland Grains Producer Utilization Board (MGPUB) recently. Their quest for knowledge earned Maryland corn growers the 2016 Reaching for Excellence Award from the National Corn Growers Association.
Developed through the NCGA Engaging Members Action Team, this award spotlights new approaches to challenges state corn grower associations face and brings forth creative solutions others in similar situations might find helpful. In Maryland’s case they worked to bring people together to find solutions to their region’s environmental concerns.
“The idea resulted in a great educational symposium that brought 250 people from the agricultural, environmental and research communities coming together to explore a common concern,” said Paul Taylor, Chairman of the Engaging Members Action Team. “In the process, Maryland farmers who wanted to better understand the science on how their farming practices can impact the Bay also discovered they were able to build better relationships with the environmental community.”
The Reaching for Excellence Award, now in its second year, was presented at the 2017 Commodity Classic in San Antonio last week.
In 2016, MGPUB partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, and University of Maryland Extension to host the Choptank Symposium. This symposium took a closer look at the Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, focusing on the current state of the river, practices employed by the agricultural community to mitigate impacts on water quality, and how these practices can be applied in other watersheds.
Attendees were challenged to think about the sources of nutrient pollution in the Choptank, what has been done to prevent pollution, and from there, what is working and what more may need to be done.
“For decades, state associations representing corn farmers have developed innovative solutions to address a variety of challenges,” Taylor said. “The NCGA Reaching for Excellence Award was established to spotlight new approaches and encourage implementation of such advances in other states. The results to date are pretty sensational and have helped to engage farmers and cultivate the next generation of leaders in farming and agribusiness.”