February 16, 2024

Van Hollen, Cardin Announce Nearly $1 Million to Support Agriculture on the Eastern Shore

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) announced $997,784 to support agricultural producers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The federal funds, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Innovation Center program, will further enable the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) to operate the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center, which will provide local agricultural producers with the various resources and services they need to develop their businesses and bring products to market.

“Maryland’s agricultural producers are a critical driver of our state’s economy. This federal investment will help our economy continue to grow and thrive by providing critical resources to our local businesses – while also helping to expand access to locally produced food for people across the region and the state,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“The partnership between the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center and federal agencies helps sustain local farming, particularly family farming. This federal investment will help give smaller farms on the Eastern Shore an opportunity to keep a local market while expanding their operations to provide locally sourced, fresh products across the region,” said Senator Cardin. “This critical investment will help keep family farming alive.”

The ESEC, located in Easton, Maryland, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 that works to help advance the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Maryland’s Eastern Shore as well as rural Delaware. The ESEC helps operate the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC) which provides agriculture and aquaculture producers in Maryland and Delaware with advice, guidance, technology, and other resources that producers need to achieve success.

Senators Van Hollen and Cardin have long fought for robust annual appropriations funding for the USDA’s Rural Development programs to continue supporting federal funding for projects in rural communities across Maryland. The Senators secured $985,000 for the ESEC as part of the fiscal year 2023 appropriations package to support their Farm to Freezer Project, which also helps producers bring their products to a wider market in addition to supporting the Maryland Food Bank.

USDA’s Rural Development programs deliver over $40 billion a year in loans, loan guarantees, and grants to rural communities, including through the Agricultural Innovation Center Program.