Cuts are taking place at all levels of government in our State. Where the rubber meets the road, they are taking away one of the biggest knowledge resources in our State when it comes to small farming. Our Extension Agent and his aide are getting the proverbial ax. For those of you who do not know, the function of an Extension Agent is to be the knowledge resource in the County about all things agriculture, be it regulations, resources, methods, education or problem solving. He or she is the one to go to and they can tell you the who, what, where and when of your answer.
There is a letter writing campaign that is taking place and we have written to our county and state representatives. Not one elected offical seemed to understand the importance of an extension agent to a small farmer. Each and everyone pointed a finger up the line. At least the ones that even took the time to respond.
It is quite dismaying. Here is a man that has spent his entire life learning and teaching agriculture. In the latter part of his career he developed a nationally recognized program for small farmer education. It is a model which others teach. We are where we are because of this man, and we are only one of many. He is a resource, an inspiration, a cheerleader and above all, he is there for you with an answer to any problem you might have.
He teaches the nutrient manamagement course - the same nutrient management course and program that is so important to saving the Cheasapeake Bay. On one hand the State wants farmers to be responsible stewards of the the land. On the other hand, they are taking away the person who can teach you how to best do that.
Here is another example of how the small farmer is being squeezed out by making resources scarce. If it wasn't for Terry Poole, our extension agent (ermitas) and his classes, we wouldn't be as far along as we are. We would have never learned about Management Intensive Grazing, Integrated Pest Management Techniques, Nutrient Management, and Water and Soil Resource conservation.
Terry is the driving force behind the Maryland Small Farm Co-op, an organization of small farmers working to help each other and sustain the small farm. Small farms have little to no room to compete, and big Agra-business is controlling the food chain. Our extension agents are a lifeline to university research, practical applications in the field, and neighborly help. Support farming by keeping them available.