Statement from County Executive Steuart Pittman On Perdue Grain Elevator Closure Announcement
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD (January 19, 2021) On January 15, Perdue Farms, Inc. released a statement that its grain elevator in southern Anne Arundel County would stop accepting grain on February 26 and close permanently on March 31. I was not notified by the company, but was alerted to the news by local farmers.
I have attempted to schedule a call with CEO Jim Perdue, but so far have not heard back.
This grain elevator serves farmers in all five southern Maryland counties. Small operators who do not have their own storage silos are dependent on this single facility to get their product to market. The closest alternative is the Perdue grain elevator at Curtis Bay, but it accepts only soybeans, and according to local farmers, is broken down and unlikely to be repaired. Trucking grain to elevators on the eastern shore would be the next alternative, but trucking that far during harvest would require a fleet of reliable trucks and drivers that don’t exist.
Anne Arundel County has a longstanding policy of promoting agriculture as an effective way to maintain open space and to preserve our natural environment. According to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, we grow grain on 32% (8,682 acres) of our county’s farmland.
Perdue Farms, Inc. is well aware of the role that grain elevators play in a local ag industry, and they know that grain farmers plan crops a year in advance. Their seed and fertilizer are purchased, and they need to know that their crops will have a buyer in the fall.
Perdue also knows that potential buyers for this elevator exist, and there’s talk of a southern Maryland co-op being formed. This January 15 closure announcement is an unnecessary assault on the very people who have made this company’s extraordinary growth possible. With over $6 billion in annual sales, Perdue can afford to give local stakeholders adequate time to come up with a plan.
I look forward to working with Perdue Farms, Inc., local farmers, county leaders throughout southern Maryland, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture on a plan to ensure that the grain elevator at 6272 Southernmost Road, Lothian, MD continues to serve farmers throughout the region this year and into the future.