In a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners, Carroll County Farm Bureau President Dave Brauning used dairy farms to explain how agriculture has changed through the years — and to predict future needs and changes in the sector.
Dairy farming, which used to be prominent in Carroll County, is now dwindling as the 731 dairy farms that existed in 1959 have shrunken to a mere 35 by 2018, he said at the November Long Term Advisory Council meeting, where various clusters — including agriculture, business, education, health, technology, recreation and arts, and public safety — discussed what they will need to be competitive 30 years from now.
One way to keep dairy farming, and agriculture as a whole, relevant, Brauning said, is to keep up with technology and infrastructure, and strengthen the market for agricultural products.
“In dairy, it went from hand-milking to milkers, to what we call dairy parlors — where there’s maybe 24 cows on a round object going around that are milked with automatic milkers — and today, robots,” he said.
“Robots are employed just across the Frederick County line between Woodsboro and Wakersville among other places,” said Brauning. “Labor is extremely hard to find today on dairy farms; it’s hard work. It’s two or three times a day, 365 days a year.”
And dairy farms aren’t the only farms that will need to take advantage of new technology and keep up with cutting-edge trends.
“The agriculture industry needs the supporting infrastructure: machinery dealers, fertilizer dealers, technical knowledge, University of Maryland services to provide up-to-date information; organic is a big word today,” Brauning said.
“And infrastructure needs the technology to support it. You have seen in our larger farms — there’s a sprayer that will go around a 50-acre field. It will make one trip around the field, from there on it’s run by itself,” he said.
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“We need the technology to expand on that, we need the infrastructure to be able to handle that and, most importantly, we need the markets for our farm products — whether it be wholesale or retail.”