Mobile Slaughter, a Solution for Small Farmers

The Post recently ran an article on Mobile Slaughter Units (sometimes called Mobile Processing Units). As the business of farming becomes more consolidated, small scale farmers must drive their livestock great distances for processing. Mobile units come to the farmer, reducing animal stress and other complications.  In the Ag Reserve, the closest slaughter option is in Mt Airy, a 2 hour drive for most Reserve farmers.  MCA has been discussing the possibility of mobile slaughter in the Reserve with USDA representatives.

On June 24th, the USDA will be hosting a Mobile Slaughter information session in Boonsboro, MD (Washington County), this event was mentioned in the article above. Click here for the  agenda.

A farm in Silver Spring (really!) makes SilverDocs

When Carlie Koiner was growing up, MoCo was all farms. Charlie is now 83 and the 1 acre plot he farms behind his house in downtown Silver Spring is the only MoCo  farm below the beltway. This tenacious farmer has caught the attention of local documentary film makers and his story ‘Corner Plot’ will be featured next week at SilverDocs, the documentary film fest hosted by the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring.  See the Gazette article for info on all  three showtimes.  We highly recommend the trailer.

Protect Sugarloaf Country!


Breaking News!

 Act now to protect treasured Sugarloaf Country!


Frederick County Planning Commission’s important proposal for a “Reserve” aimed at protecting the Sugarloaf Mountain Region is now in the hands of the FredCo Board of County Commissioners.  We ask that you write in support of this initiative before June 20th. 

Why This Matters:

  • Despite decisive action to protect farmland by the BOCC and Planning Commission, an Agricultural Zoning designation in FredCo does not effectively keep land in agriculture by prohibiting large scale institutional development.

  • Without this new policy, the area proposed for the Reserve designation is under threat from a number of huge development proposals that impact both sides of the county line. Current proposals seek buildings in excess of 100,000 square feet! This pressure will only increase as large uses seek to move further and further out of populated areas to land they deem more affordable.

  • As Kai Hagen, BOCC member, says, “we don’t want the (MoCo) Ag Reserve to be an island” surrounded by sprawl. This initiative represents real cross-county stewardship – with regional benefit.

  • The United States is, according to American Farmland Trust, 13 million acres short of the land needed to grow our food. 


This Plan Would:

  • Establish an ”Environment and Natural Resource” Reserve for the area east of the Monocacy River, west of 270, and North of the MoCo line.

  • Lend further protection to Sugarloaf Mountain, the Monocacy Battlefield, the land surrounding the Monocacy River, as well as hundreds of acres currently in farming.

  • Effectively reign in non-agricultural development with specific height and footprint limits for buildings, preserving more land for what it is zoned for: farming and open space.


Please see the proposal details here.


To see our rough rendering, and we mean rough, of the proposed Reserve area, click here (not an official map)


Press on the formation of this proposal here.


The climate is right for a landmark proposal of this kind, the current BOCC members have made respectable gains in land protection. Clearly, the public is eager for this measure to move forward quickly. 2010 can became an historic year for Frederick County and the region, a year that marks commitment to both residents now and future generations.


Action Needed!

The Board of County Commissioners will vote on moving ahead with the proposal by the end of June (exact date not yet available). Your emails in support to each commissioner are needed now to move the proposal along. You do not need to live in Frederick County to write in! However, if you have Frederick County contacts, please encourage them to make their voice heard!


Email the Frederick County Commissioners with your support for the “Environmental and Natural Resource Reserve,” please cc any emails to


Jan H. Gardner:

David P. Gray:

Kai J. Hagen:

John L. Thompson, Jr.:
Blaine R. Young:


Suggested talking points:

  • The area in question lies above highly fractured geology and the federally designated Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer- conditions that make large scale development a real threat to area wells. 

  • The need for farmland and natural resource preservation knows no political boundaries, Frederick County has the chance to build on the success of the Ag Reserve to protect the farmland they still have.

  • Ever-growing demand for local food in Frederick County requires that farmland be available for the next generation of table crop producers. Currently both Frederick County Farmers Markets and Food Banks have unmet demand.

  • The Sugarloaf Mountain region is treasured for its preservation of historic landmarks, natural resources, vistas, trails and roadways.  It is a regional destination that deserves long term preservation!

  • The 20-Year comprehensive plan contains a directive to establish this zoning classification (p27, last line), this specific area meets all the requirements for increased protection laid out in the plan, please apply this proposed special designation now, before and not after acres are lost to large scale development.

  • Large scale uses require large scale services, concentrating these uses where services already exist represents a cost savings to taxpayers and FC.  It simply makes sense to concentrate large development where services exist to support it.

  • Tell them what this area m eans to you and your family…give details.  Have your children write about their special experiences there.  This would be a great start of summer mini-project for kids -writing and engaging in local government.

 With Appreciation,


Montgomery Countryside Alliance

Maryland’s Dairy Farmers Take a Hit

Read Gazette Coverage on the downturn for area dairy farmers.

This Summer “Go Wild” in Montgomery

Looking for summer fun for the family?

Click here for the County’s Go Wild site!

Get out and explore the Reserve this summer!

Put Your Land in Easement – MET to meet with landowners in June

photo by Hilary Schwab

Maryland Environmental Trust
will brief landowners and visit properties in the Ag Reserve in June!

Please email if you would like to be part of this outreach.  Click here for more information on the MET easement program.  Easements are an excellent tool for preservation of farmland and natural resources.

Frederick Planners Seek to Preserve Sugarloaf Region

The Frederick County Planning Commission is moving forward with plans to establish a special protection area in the Sugarloaf Mountain region in the southern portion of the county.  This will greatly add to the benefits already achieved with Montgomery’s Ag Reserve.  See Gazette coverage.

MCA has been happy to provide information to assist this initiative and will support this effort as it moves to Frederick’s Board of County Commissioners.

Mobile Slaughter Information Session, June 24

As if raising livestock wasn’t hard enough, small farmers face even more challenges come harvest time.

Currently, if a small scale livestock producer wants to sell their meat, they have to load their animals onto a truck and drive them to one of the large, increasingly consolidated facilities for slaughter, this means huge costs for the farmer and high levels of stress for the animals. The closest facility to the Reserve is in Mount Airy, nearly an hour away.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responding to these challenges by encouraging the licence and use of mobile slaughter units (MSUs) for red meat and poultry. These units are self-contained, about the size of a tractor trailer and can be moved from farm to farm easily. One MSU can serve a whole community of small farmers,   reducing the cost to each farmer and greatly reducing the travel stress on livestock. MSUs might prove to be an important tool to help Reserve farmers keep up with the growing demand for  sustainably raised local meat.

The FSIS is hosting a red meat mobile slaughter information session on June 24th in Boonsboro, MD. Click here for the agenda.

For more information, contact  Denise Amman with FSIS:

Montgomery’s Competitive, Sustainable Edge!

Seems that elected officials in Montgomery County have been worried that Fairfax is taking the lead.   See Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Stewart Schwartz’s excellent letter in the Gazette detailing why MC is the real leader in preservation and building sustainable communities. He also offers common sense guidance on how Montgomery can keep its edge.

Our Schools Can Help to Get Kids Growing!

What better place to teach children where healthy food comes from than school grounds themselves.  And yet, current policy set by Superintendent Weast prevents our public schools from providing the opportunity to get kids outdoors in a natural learning environment.  Groups are joining together to ask the County to change that policy and allow schools to participate in teaching children about growing food and the health benefits of eating sustainably grown fruits and vegetables.  See the letter here.  Many thanks to Gordon Clark and Montgomery Victory Gardens  for taking this initiative on! Click the MVG link and add your name to the growing list of supporters.

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