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Carroll County delegate again introduces agriculture education bill in Maryland General Assembly

For a third straight General Assembly session, a Carroll County delegate has introduced a bill designed to more clearly define agriculture education for school boards statewide.

Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5, introduced House Bill 1487, otherwise known as “Public Schools — Agricultural Education and Grant Program,” which is set to be heard in front of the Ways and Means Committee on March 4, Shoemaker’s office announced Thursday. Del. Michele Guyton of Baltimore County is the leading co-sponsor.

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According to a Thursday news release from Shoemaker’s office, the bill “defines the Certified Ag Education program in the public school curriculum and requires local school boards to adopt the definition into their standing programs or when creating new programs.”

“It provides direction to local school boards as to what agriculture education should consist of,” Shoemaker said in an interview. “Part of the concern I’ve heard from the Maryland Farm Bureau and from the Future Farmers of America from my process today is that there isn’t that uniformity in addressing the integral components and all that stuff.”

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An addition to the bill this year is a requirement that the governor include an appropriation of $785,000 to the program each fiscal year starting in fiscal year 2022, according to the release.

The bill has been introduced in similar forms the past two sessions, according to the release, and it has made progress before ultimately falling short.

“I’m persistent, if nothing else,” Shoemaker said. “I’ve been able to get that bill out of my committee the last two years and got it through the Maryland House of Delegates unanimously and it died over on the Senate side.”

Shoemaker said this year he is “cautiously optimistic.”

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Agriculture holds a special status for Shoemaker and his constituents, he said.

“My grandparents were actively involved in farming, so it’s very important to me, but for Carroll County, agriculture is a way of life,” Shoemaker said. “We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that it’s a viable sector of the economy going forward. I think this bill will help equip our kids so that goal is accomplished.”

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