FREDERICK, Md. — Grangers gathered to hear about happenings on the national level and to honor their own during the Maryland State Grange Agriculture and Awards Banquet held in conjunction with the 139th annual session at the American Legion Oct. 19.
Keynote speaker, National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatwright, invited members of the state organization to share their thoughts on legislative issues going forward to the national convention next month in Manchester, N.H. The national event will be in Washington, D.C., in 2016.
Boatwright said she and other Washington-based agriculture lobbyists focus on many agriculture and rural development issues, including trying to secure a Farm Bill. Last year’s extension expired Sept. 30, but most commodity programs run through the end of the year.
The Senate and House bills are similar, with the exception of the food stamp program.
“I’m fairly confident they will hammer something out,” Boatwright said.
And while Congress may be running amuck, Boatwright said rural America knows how to conserve and thrive.
“We have the most vibrant, fruitful food supply,” she said, adding that since 1959, the U.S. agriculture industry has had a positive trade balance and is the only sector of the economy that can say that.
She enlightened Grangers on topics she’s focused on in Washington.
“We need to spend more time knocking down trade barriers,” she said, adding that sending just 1 percent more pork to China would result in $1 billion more in exports and 27,000 more jobs.
“I spend a lot of time coalition building,” she said. As the Grange’s lone lobbyist, Boatwright coordinates efforts with organizations such as Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union.
These groups have goals of making broadband available to more rural residents and overhauling the work visa program.
Local Grange and individual awards were presented during the evening ceremonies.
New Market Grange Master Scott Burall was honored as the Maryland State Granger of the Year. A fourth-generation Granger, Burall is a graduate of Linganore High School and is active with alumni activities. He has worked for UPS for 25 years is married to Darlene and has two daughters and three grandchildren.
“He is a remarkable young man,” said Maryland Grange Master Maurice Wiles. “He is a good worker and a good man.”
Membership Awards were presented to the Hancock and Medford Granges. Membership chairpersons Cliff Newsome and Nancy Wolfe said they would be happy to visit local Granges to help recruit members.
Granges receiving the Community Service Awards were Calvert, seventh; River View, sixth; Wacohu, fifth; Thurmont, fourth; Glade Valley, third; Linganore, second; and New Market, first.
The awards were based on notebooks each Grange submitted for judging said award presenter Roger Troxell. Judges said the winning Grange did a good job assigning leadership roles to Grangers and formulating a program of work for the year. The National Grange sends $250 to the state as part of the program, Troxell said.
The Maryland Grange presented six scholarships to Beth Reed, Frederick Community College; Collins Lethbridge, Mount St. Mary’s University; Timothy Thorne, Frostburg State University; Kaitlynn Larrimore, Cecil College; Shelby Hahn, Penn State Mont Alto; and Laura Shelton, Shepherd University.
A benefit concert for the Maryland State Grange Scholarship Fund will be held at 3 p.m. this Sunday at Linganore United Methodist Church, 8921 Clemsonville Road, Union Bridge, Md.