Rutherford joins Bartenfelder in Mr. Airy tour
MT. AIRY, Md. — Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder visited two farms in Mt. Airy on Oct. 29, to discuss the importance of agriculture in Maryland.
Before touring Willard Agri-Service, Bartenfelder acknowledged the significance of Maryland’s agricultural industry on the national scale; pointing out that the largest sweet corn processor east of the Mississippi River is S.E.W. Friel, located in Queenstown, Md.
Willard Agri-Service is also well-known on the national scale, having received numerous regional and national awards for their stewardship and safety measures.
The company recently received its Responsible Ag Certification, and the company will be celebrating their 50th year of business in January.
Every few years, they publish a book to commemorate the business’s history.
Rutherford was gifted one of the 40-year history books during this visit.
During the tour, Rutherford got a close-up look at ag technology sitting in one of the company’s fertilizer applicators.
The two discussed the blend of new and old technology to create what is the most efficient means of running the business.
In the main office, a CB radio sat next to a monitor that tracked where every vehicle was.
This monitor allows them to keep customers updated on where their shipment is and track where vehicles broke down.
Willard Agri-Service also operates in a controlled environment without chemicals such as ammonium nitrate.
These new and old technologies combined with utmost safety precautions have allowed them to excel in stewardship and safety, all while selling between 12,000-13,000 tons of fertilizer annually from their Mt. Airy location alone.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank this administration for their support of agriculture,” Willard CEO Billy Willard said. Rutherford responded by saying “The administration knows and understands ag is our biggest industry, (so) it only comes naturally to support ag.”
Following the tour of Willard Agri Service, the group travelled to nearby Gaver Farm.
This year the Gavers celebrated its 12th fall festival, and are renowned for their commitment to agricultural education.
Lisa Gaver said “Everything we do here is tied back to ag education, even if it’s just for fun.”
She also encourages ingenuity in her family as owners of the farm, and said she frequently tells her kids that “I know we’re from generations of farmers, but we want you to treat it like you’re a first generation farmer.”
At Gaver Farm, Rutherford spoke with many visitors in the market, including local FFA members starting a business.
Rutherford said the best part of these visits is meeting the farmers, finding out more about the economic climate at the local level, and both learning and educating on the importance of agriculture.
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