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Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman Announces Decision on Future of Naval Academy Dairy Farm

Publish Date: 08/26/2014

After thorough search, current farmer agrees to restore organic operation

 

Annapolis, Maryland (August 26, 2014) — Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman today announced the county has reached a decision regarding future operation of the Naval Academy Dairy Farm. Following a thorough and transparent search to find the most qualified farmer to operate the Gambrills farm, the county is awarding a five-year lease, effective January 1, 2015, to current tenant Maryland Sunrise Farm, owned by Edwin and Marian Fry. The agreement is contingent upon approval by the County Council and the United States Navy, which owns the farm.

 

“From the beginning of this process, my administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to work with the community in keeping the Dairy Farm organic. We have held town hall meetings, consulted experts and listened to citizens’ concerns, and have reached a decision that reflects the community’s input,” said County Executive Neuman. “I am pleased that the farm will remain a sustainable business while being returned to organic operation at the request of the administration and the public.”

 

Although the county’s existing lease with the U.S. Navy and sublease with Maryland Sunrise Farm do not require or mandate organic farming practices, the county issued a Request for Letters of Intent (RLOI) in April to identify bidders interested in continuing organic operation of the farm. The current tenant farmers announced last winter that they wished to discontinue organic farming and begin conventional farming due to challenges including erosion, weeds and invasive deer.

 

Additionally, the tenant must adhere to the terms of Maryland Sunrise Farm’s previous agreement with the county, including maintenance of identified buildings, lawn care, security and insurance, as well as allowing the 4H Club to use two buildings (previously three) and a portion of the pasture acreage.

 

  • The county received two proposals for returning the farm to organic operation, the most viable of which came from the current tenant farmers. Under their new sublease, the following terms are required:
  • Rent payable to the county is $25,000 per year, increasing 2 percent annually;
  • 70 percent of the crops produced and pastures shall be transitional organic or certified organic by the National Organic Program (NOP) by January 1, 2018;
  • 100 percent of the crop production and pastures shall be transitional organic or certified organic by the NOP within five years of the beginning of the terms of the sublease;
  • The county or its designee will conduct annual reviews of the progress made by Maryland Sunrise Farm toward full organic certification by an NOP certifying agency;
  • The corn maze and pumpkin patch, which were never organic, will not be organic; and
  • Nothing in the sublease is to be construed as requiring the livestock raised or pastures regularly used by the 4H Club to be certified organic.


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