Agriculture in Calvert County
Historically, tobacco was the crop of choice for most of Calvert County’s farmers. The crop grew well in Calvert’s fertile soils and warm summer climate. In the mid-1990s, tobacco prices were declining as Maryland’s legislators instituted the Tobacco Buyout program which offered financial incentives to farmers who agreed to remain in agricultural production, but no longer grow tobacco.
In Calvert County, 195 contracts were written to farmers and property owners who agreed to transition away from tobacco production. The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) was created to administer the buyout and assist with the region’s transition from a tobacco-dependent agricultural economy. To learn more about the Tobacco Buyout, visit the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission’s website.
Many farmers used the funds received as part of the Tobacco Buyout to invest in infrastructure and equipment to diversify their operations. Due, in part, to the Tobacco Buyout, today’s Calvert County farmers are producers of fruits, vegetables, meats, nursery and horticulture products and value-added goods. Experience-based agricultural operations also grew to include equine facilities, vineyards, craft beverage operations and agri-tourism locations, including ‘pick-your-own’ farms and seasonal on-farm events. Southern Maryland’s farmers are successfully transitioning to meet consumer demand for local, healthy produce and experience-based opportunities.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture reports that 269 farms remain in Calvert County, with an average farm size of 122 acres. Calvert County’s top crops include corn, wheat, winter wheat and soybeans, while layers (chickens used for egg production) and cattle/calves account for the majority of livestock inventory.
The Census of Agriculture is conducted once every five years, with 2017 census results scheduled for publication in February 2019. The 2012 Census of Agriculture profile for Calvert County is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website.
Alongside Calvert County’s farmers, Calvert’s watermen also share a long and successful history. Surrounded by water on three sides, Calvert County’s maritime history dates back to the late 1600s. Boat building, fishing and oystering were mainstays of Calvert’s waterside communities. Today’s watermen can still be seen harvesting their daily catch, including the famous blue crab, in the waters of the Patuxent River or Chesapeake Bay. Whether wild-harvested or farmed (also known as aquaculture), the bounty can be enjoyed by residents and visitors at local restaurants or purchased directly from those who ply Calvert's waterways.
To ensure the growth and success of agriculture, Calvert County’s Department of Economic Development (DED) provides business resources and counseling to all industries, including agriculture. DED works to develop and market local agricultural products and assist farmers and producers with challenges. For more information on Calvert County’s Department of Economic Development, visit www.ecalvert.com.
This website was created to connect consumers with local farmers and producers to meet the ever-increasing demand for fresh, local produce. Thanks to the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) for providing grant funds for the creation of this website via their Regional Agriculture Project grant and to the Calvert County Farm Bureau, Calvert Soil Conservation District and University of Maryland Extension, Calvert County.