All Three Delmarva Agriculture Secretaries to Talk Future of Agr - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

All Three Delmarva Agriculture Secretaries to Talk Future of Agriculture

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EASTON, Md. - All three Delmarva agriculture secretaries will come to Easton, Maryland next month to talk about the future of agriculture.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy says the agriculture secretaries will serve on a panel at its 15th Eastern Shore Planning Conference, "the Future of Eastern Shore Agriculture," to be held Thursday, November 20, at the Tidewater Inn in Easton.

The non-profit groups says Maryland Agriculture Secretary Earl F. "Buddy" Hance, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, and Virginia Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore will talk about how we can learn from the past to plan for the future. The panel will be moderated by regional radio host Marc Steiner.

The group says Andrew McElwaine, president of American Farmland Trust, will offer welcoming remarks at the conference, which is expected to bring 200 people together to reflect on the current state of Eastern Shore agriculture and discuss a vision for the future.

"We hope this conference will connect folks, share what's happening on the ground, and inspire us all to build a stronger community through our largest land use," said ESLC Policy Manager Josh Hastings, conference director. "We have some of the most innovative, nationally respected agricultural operations right here on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We're looking forward to highlighting these leaders and bringing their expertise to the conference."

To register, visit eslc.org, or call 410-827-9756, ext. 155. Tickets are $55 ($45 until Oct. 31), or $25 for students and $45 for ESLC members.

McElwaine has more than 30 years of senior nonprofit management experience in conservation, public policy and land protection. Before joining AFT, he served for seven years as president of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

As president of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, Fla., McElwaine helped to acquire easements on 25,000 acres of farm and ranch land through donations and purchases. He supported a successful campaign for a state constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes on lands with agricultural easements, and sought solutions to Florida's long-term water and growth-management problems.

Governor Martin O'Malley appointed fourth generation Southern Maryland farmer, Earl F. Hance as secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture in May 2009. Hance served as deputy secretary of agriculture from February 2007 until May 2009. Prior to these appointments, he served as president of the Maryland Farm Bureau, chairman of the Maryland State Tobacco Authority, and as chairman of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission among other farm and community activities.

Ed Kee, a native Delawarean who was born in New Castle and now lives in Sussex County, spent his entire career in Delaware Agriculture. Kee began his professional agricultural career as the farm manager at Nassau Orchards in Lewes, Del. Ed Kee was appointed the Kent County Agricultural Agent for the University of Delaware in 1978, and moved to State Vegetable Crops Specialist, working out of Georgetown. In 2004, Kee was appointed as the Extension Agricultural Program Leader. He served as the Vegetable Crop Specialist and the Ag Program Leader. Kee retired from the University in 2008 and worked for Hanover Foods Corporation as Director of Agriculture.

Todd Haymore was appointed in 2010 to serve as Virginia's Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry. During the his tenure as Secretary, Haymore has worked closely with the Governor, General Assembly, and key stakeholders on a number of legislative and budgetary initiatives to integrate fully agriculture and forestry into Virginia's overall economic development and jobs creation platform and to better enhance the standing of the two industries in the Commonwealth, across the country, and around the world. One of the major successes of these initiatives include creating the first-of-its-kind Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, a multi-million dollar economic development grant and loan program specifically for existing or new agricultural and forestry value-added or processing facilities.

"Agriculture is the number one industry in Maryland and is critical to maintaining the character and quality of life on our beautiful Shore," said ESLC Executive Director Rob Etgen. "We're excited to see so many national and local leaders coming together at this conference to discuss our future."

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