The Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) serves as the voice for Maryland's 24 soil and water conservation districts on state legislative issues. It also provides a forum for training, policy-making and the exchange of information at their annual and quarterly gatherings.
MASCD Mission is to: promote practical and effective soil, water, and related natural resources programs to all citizens through individual conservation districts on a voluntary basis through leadership, education, cooperation and local direction.
On Wednesday, August 12, 2015, the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) and the Montgomery Soil Conservation District hosted a congressional staff tour on five different farms in Montgomery County. The objective of the farm tour was to help the congressional staff understand how federal programs provide resources to farmers for conservation and to see conservation practices in action on a variety of operations. Representatives from Congressional members Cardin, Mikulski, Delaney, Edwards, and Van Hollen’s offices participated in the tour. Staff and interns from the Natural Resource Conservation Services attended as well. The group visited Randy Stabler at Pleasant Valley Farms, Tom and Paula Linthicum at Seneca Ayr Farm, Drew Stabler at Sunny Ridge Farm, Wade, Tyler and Ben Butler at Butler’s Orchard and John Fendrick at Woodbourne Creamery.
Participants viewed many conservation practices including stream fencing and watering systems, a chemical handling facility, cover crops, grassed waterways, rotational grazing and others. Guests also got to climb up on a “high-boy” sprayer, enjoy local ice cream, walk through a grain drying and storage facility and see an automated robotic milking machine. Throughout the day, farmers, conservation district, NRCS and MASCD staff discussed the cost of these practices and the importance of cost share assistance for conservation. Farmers made sure the visitors were aware of what is required of Maryland farmers by regulation and its impact on their businesses. Every farmer conveyed that they are happy to install the conservation practices because they feel it’s the right thing to do and they want to preserve the land for the next generation. The Congressional staff expressed that it was a very informative, enjoyable, and worthwhile visit.