Maryland Law Helping Farmers, Low-Income Families Not Included i - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Law Helping Farmers, Low-Income Families Misses State Funding

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 7:09 PM Updated:

ST. MICHAELS, Md. - There's plenty of mouths to feed on Carol Bean's farm in Talbot County, but outside of it, not as much.

"It was this benefit to the farmer by bringing people to the market and it was a benefit to these people that would spend that money elsewhere," Bean said.

The Maryland Farm and Families Act is a law that people like Bean describe as a win-win for farmers and for the hungry, but it wasn't included in Gov. Larry Hogan's 2019 budget proposal.

The bill became law back in 2017 - setting aside a fund for farmers hoping to sell crops and low-income families hoping to buy fresh food.

And there's a reason the law missed funding this year. Jason Schellhardt of the Maryland Department of Agriculture tells WBOC checks that help low-income families buy fresh food at farmers markets aren't always used up.

"Our priority is making sure that we properly utilize all available funds and resources before dedicating our budget to another, very similar, program," Schellhardt said. "We fully understand that this type of program is important to our farmers, as well."

But Linn Ong, a volunteer with the St. Michaels Food Pantry, says no funding is no good, especially when the number of hungry families keeps rising.

"I just hope they'll support the law because I think there's a real need," Ong said.

Ong says in places like St. Michaels, where the nearest grocery store just closed, access to food for some low-income families may be getting harder.

Farmers like Bean hope that one day they'll have the funding to help themselves and help others.

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