Agricultural trends in Charles County reveal a major social, cultural, and economic shift as the region transitions away from its 300-year-old tradition of tobacco production. While a great deal has changed in the last 20 years, agriculture continues to be an integral part of the county’s culture and economy. Charles County strives to promote diverse, market-driven agricultural enterprises.
In 2002, the state’s 10-year voluntary Tobacco Buyout program was established. To encourage conversion to alternative crops, the program provided funds to eligible Maryland tobacco growers in exchange for discontinuing tobacco production forever.
New face of Agriculture in Charles County
Charles County farmers have replaced their tobacco crops in varying ways. Some chose new crops, others raise livestock, while others benefit from the growing interest in agritourism. Organic farming has also found a home in Charles County.
- New Crops like sorghum are providing farmers with a crop that is high in demand, resistant to destruction by wildlife, and easy to grow. Other crops include seasonal vegetables, corn, soybeans, and wheat. Perdue Farms is the largest purchaser of grains grown in Charles County.
- Agritourism unites agriculture with tourism, creating an industry where farms are open to the public for the direct purchase of products and to enjoy farming-related recreational activities. Charles County’s agritourism farms are attracting visitors from as far away as Europe!
- Organic farming is here! Next Step Produce is an 80-acre farm located in the southern county town of Newburg. Next Step is "committed to growing excellent vegetables in harmony with nature" and recently added grains to their bounty list. The demand for organic produce is high and far outweighs the supply.
- Livestock raised in Charles County include poultry, pork, lamb, goat, and beef; horse farms offering boarding services and riding lessons may also be found throughout the county.
Agriculture FAST FACTS in Charles County:
- Average size of farms: 125 acres
- The value of nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod as a percentage of the total market value of agricultural products sold: 20.40%
- The value of livestock, poultry, and their products as a percentage of the total market value of agricultural products sold: 25.65%
- Harvested cropland as a percentage of land in farms: 43.82%
- The percentage of farms operated by a family or individual: 92.11%
- Milk cows as a percentage of all cattle and calves: 5.61%
- Corn for grain: 5021 harvested acres
- All wheat for grain: 2972 harvested acres
- Soybeans for beans: 10760 harvested acres
- Vegetables: 335 harvested acres
- Land in orchards: 40 acres