August 20, 2013 - Damascus, MD: Governor Martin O'Malley recognized the eleven Maryland horse farms who are now Certified Agricultural Conservation Stewards, protecting natural resources on 1,249 acres in seven Maryland counties. With assistance from the Maryland Horse Council's Farm Stewardship Committee (http://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/farm_stewardship.htm), horse farms are now actively engaged in the community of Maryland farms benefiting from participation in the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) (http://www.mascd.net/FSCAP_Horse.pdf).
The Maryland Horse Council, established in 1985, represents the interests of the state-wide horse industry with about 80,000 horses and one quarter of Maryland agricultural land. FSCAP was established in 2010 to acknowledge those farmers who are good stewards of their natural resources and to encourage and reward farmers to put more conservation best management practices (BMPs) on the land. It developed the Agricultural Conservation Stewardship Certification Standard (ACSCS), which measures compliance with state requirements for the farm's nutrient management plan plus a level of conservation BMPs that prevent any significant sources of pollution from leaving the farm. The project is managed by the innovative Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) that promotes practical and effective soil, water, and related natural resource programs to all citizens through Maryland's 24 soil conservation districts on a voluntary basis through leadership, education, cooperation, and local direction.
Through FSCAP, MASCD established a collaborative process to recognize good stewardship by farmers that is acknowledged and respected by both the environmental and agricultural communities. By "setting the bar", it encourages other farmers to achieve certification and participate in new conservation programs that put more conservation on the land and reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
This Maryland "green" initiative is receiving positive reviews in the horse community, including from Linda Santomenna, the owner of Blue Waters Farm in Chesapeake City who states, "I just wanted to take a moment and thank you again for facilitating our entrance into the MASCD FSCAP program. We are so proud to participate and have received a great deal of interest and positive comments from our colleagues and clients. Thank you for doing such a lovely job!"
This special recognition by Governor O'Malley was received by: Carolyn Krome, Persimmon Tree Farm; Steven Darcy; Edgewood Farm; Karla Stoner, Bloomsbury Forge; Milly Welsh, Graden Farm; Lori Larson, Wyndham Oaks; Kevin Plank, Sagamore Farm; Rick Terselic, Potomac Horse Center; Caroline duPont Prickett, Great House Farm; Michael Rubin, Breezy Hill Farm; Linda Santomenna and Robert Alphin, Blue Waters Farm; and Barbara McDonald, Shamrock Arabians.
Text of Governor O'Malley's letter:
"Congratulations on being one of the first horse farm owners who are now Certified Agricultural Conservation Stewards. It is an understatement to say that horses are an important part of Maryland. Not only do they have an economic impact on our State, but they're also helping us preserve our farm land, our open space, and our environment. The Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) was therefore established to acknowledge those farmers who are good stewards of their natural resources and to encourage farmers to put more conservation best management practices (BMPs) on the land. The program is part of our larger effort to preserve our natural resources for future generations of Marylanders.
If you look at our State seal, on it, of course, is a plowman and a fisherman, but on the other side of the State seal is a horse. So this is an important part of our heritage, our spirit, our economy, our jobs, and all of those things enriched by the presence of the horse industry throughout our centuries-old history. On behalf of our State, I want to thank all of you who work so hard in Maryland's horse industry for your strength, your determination, and your commitment to protecting our natural resources.
Governor Martin O'Malley"
To view a copy of the letter, click HERE.