The Maryland Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (PAC), affiliated with the state’s largest general agricultural organization, recently announced the endorsement of 106 candidates in the House, Senate, Attorney General, Comptroller and Governor’s race for the state’s 2018 primary election.
“An endorsement is recognition of a candidate’s commitment to the issues important to the agricultural community in Maryland,” said Michael Calkins, Chairman of the Maryland Farm Bureau PAC. “Our support highlights the strong working relationship between farmers and endorsed candidates, both in the halls of Annapolis and back at local farm community events.”
The Maryland Farm Bureau PAC is non-partisan. The endorsement process is intended to draw attention to farm issues in an election year, increase voter turnout, and build a stronger relationship between local farmers and their elected officials. Much of the direction for the endorsement decisions comes from county Farm Bureaus.
“Selecting which candidates to endorse is truly a grassroots process,” Calkins said. “Candidate surveys include concerns raised by Farm Bureau members. Each county Farm Bureau creates a Candidate Evaluation Committee (CEC) to solicit input from its members, and in many cases, meet directly with the candidates. The CECs review candidate surveys, discuss year-round interaction with incumbents, discuss the qualifications of challengers, and make recommendations on whether to endorse. The PAC Board relies heavily on the recommendations of the CECs. The PAC Board also reviews the voting records of incumbents and the political acumen of challengers or open-seat candidates.”
Maryland Farm Bureau President Chuck Fry applauded the work of county committees and the PAC board. “This process truly exemplifies what’s great about the farming community and Farm Bureau,” he said. “We take direction from the grassroots – relying on the counties to recommend the candidates that will best serve the interests of farmers and rural Maryland.”
Calkins said that the endorsed candidates have demonstrated an appreciation for the hard work of farmers in Maryland. “The farming community plays an integral part in the state’s economy, not only in economic terms but also in the number of direct and indirect jobs our sector provides,” he said. “We want to be supported and acknowledged for the work accomplished in meeting and surpassing sediment and nutrient reduction goals as we do our part to clean up the Bay. Maryland farmland accounts for over 2 million acres in the state and farmers work hard to protect it and the Bay. The candidates selected recognize that agriculture needs to be supported and often defended during the legislative process.”