The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), in partnership with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Maryland Farm Bureau, is receiving $35,610 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service to determine the best potential contractual arrangements for farmers using a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business model. This project will also examine the potential for a certification structure to support the continued successful growth of CSAs in the state.

“Community Supported Agriculture farms are a popular option for our farmers seeking to grow their sales to consumers interested in buying fresh, local food directly from the farm,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “We’re glad the USDA supports our project to help these farmers continue to grow their business.”

Maryland has 119 farms which use the CSA business model to sell their products, according to the USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture. Many are listed on MDA’s Maryland’s Best web site, Nationally, there are now 12,617 CSAs. This business model is relatively new and has only recently been tracked.

Funded through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program, this project was proposed by MDA with its partners to develop programs that will assist consumers in understanding the nature of CSA farms and provide CSA farmers with methods to manage clientele expectations for deliveries of local food products subject to the vagaries of weather. The Maryland project was among 17 projects funded by the USDA in 13 states.