CENTREVILLE — The 21st annual Maryland Commodity Classic was held on Thursday, July 25, 2019 at the Queen Anne’s 4-H Park. The event was attended by nearly 300 farmers and industry representatives, and featured keynote speaker Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief of programs at USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.
During the event, the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board awarded scholarships to four deserving students. Recipients were Alexandra Guy of Hebron, Ethan Miller of Kennedyville, Cody Martin Morris of Parsonsburg and Jacob Schmidt of Sudlersville.
“We had an outstanding group of qualified individuals receiving scholarships this year,” said Bobby Guy, MGPUB president. “We need trained professionals to meet the demand for careers addressing issues such as world hunger and food safety, renewable energy and environmental stewardship. Over $180,000 has now been awarded through our Scholarship Program.”
A recent graduate of James M. Bennett High School, Alexandra Guy was raised on her family’s farm in Hebron and has always wanted to give back to the farming community. To do so, she will be attending the University of Kentucky of the fall to study agriculture and medical biotechnology, which will allow her to not only improve the yield of crops but also examine the health of the crops we are growing. Daughter of Bobby Guy, Alexandra is also serving as the current Wicomico County Farm Ambassador and was active in field hockey, lacrosse, and the National Honor Society in high school.
Studying plant science at the University of Delaware, Ethan Miller’s life has revolved around his family’s 4,000 acre grain farming operation. After receiving his degree, Ethan plans to return to the family farm where he can bring back his knowledge of different farming methods and serve as their very own agronomist. Son of Kevin and Amy Miller, Ethan has been very active in his first year of school, participating in Alpha Gamma Rho, Ag Day, dairy judging and more.
Son of Thomas and Lisa Morris, Cody Martin Morris has worked on his family’s grain and poultry farm since the age of 10, where he learned the benefits of reaping a plentiful harvest. In addition to the crops grown by his family, he also has his own pumpkin patch which he manages from planting to harvest. By studying agronomy and agricultural business management at the University of Maryland College Park, he hopes to one day efficiently run his family farm and maximize profits so that it can be passed along to the next generation. In his life time, Cody has seen many changes in the production of chickens and small grain crops, and recognizes the importance of continuing family farms in the current day and age.
Attending West Virginia University to obtain a degree in agribusiness management with a minor in soil science, Jacob Schmidt believes that he must first educate himself as much as possible in order to be successful in his career. The son of Alan and Brenda Schmidt, Jacob’s experience in agriculture started at a young age and is wide and diverse. After graduating, he plans to obtain his CCA certification and return to his family’s grain and vegetable farm, where he would like to venture into new and emerging niche markets such as biofuels that can help to contribute to the advancement of the industry.
Also during the event, the Maryland Grain Producers Association awarded two individuals with the Dr. James R. Miller Award, which recognizes an individual for outstanding service to Maryland’s grain industry. The award began in 1998 when it was given to Dr. James R. Miller. Since then, grower leaders, as well as elected officials, researchers, and agency representatives have been recognized. This year’s recipients were Brad Powers, former Deputy Secretary at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and Valerie Connelly, former Executive Director of Maryland Farm Bureau.
According to those who were there at the inception of the Maryland Grain Producers Association, we probably would not be here today without Brad Powers. In 1976, he began working at the Department of Agriculture as a marketing specialist and worked his way all the way up to deputy secretary. In his capacity as assistant secretary, Powers was integral in the formation of the Maryland Grain Producers and served as the department’s member of the Board.
After his retirement in 2002, Powers did not stop serving the grain industry. He was involved in the development of two soybean transloading facilities and investigation of potential sites for an ethanol plant in Maryland. Giving back to the community, Powers served as the director of Shore Gourmet, a value-added food business development program. Powers also assisted with a USDA technology transfer project looking in to converting chicken feathers into biodegradable plant containers and turfgrass netting. Powers now lives in Carrollton, Georgia, with his wife Shari and enjoys vacationing at their home in Tennessee, hunting fishing, gardening, spending time with his family and his loyal Labrador Max.
Valerie Connelly has been serving Maryland’s agricultural community for the last 25 years, working for the Maryland Farm Bureau. Serving as director of government relations and most recently executive director, Connelly has been involved in every major issue impacting Maryland Agriculture for the last quarter century and has done an exceptional job representing our best interest. For grain producers, Connelly has been integral in protecting the privacy of nutrient management plans, retaining access to pesticides, expanding the radius for k-tags, increasing the weight tolerance for grain trucks, ensuring conservation funding and so much more.
While Connelly will surely be missed working directly in agriculture, she will be staying in the area in her new position at Choptank Electric. The Maryland Grain Producers Association expects that her work there will ultimately benefit our farmers as well. The sssociation thanks both Powers and Connelly for their many years of tireless service to Maryland’s grain farmers.
The Maryland Commodity Classic is held annually on the fourth Thursday in July and is sponsored by the the Maryland Grain Producers Association, Maryland Soybean Board, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, and Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association. To learn more, visit www.marylandgrain.org.