MD leaders pushing for bill that could help family owned farm stands and markets

MARYLAND- Some Maryland leaders are pushing for a bill recently heard in the Senate that could help agriculture businesses.

The General Assembly passed the minimum wage law in recent years, which included an agriculture exemption, but something was missing.

“Unfortunately, we did not find out until after the passage of the bill that that agricultural exemption did not include produce stands, and farmers markets,” Senator Mary Beth Carozza, said.

The bill is a bipartisan effort, with both democrats and republicans sponsoring, including Mary Beth Carozza.

If passed, Senate Bill 502, could make an exemption from the Maryland Wage and Hour Law for people working at an agricultural stand, retail farm, or a farmer’s market that primarily sells agricultural products that the employer has produced.

“There are 1,400 family owned farm stands in the state of Maryland, and this minimum wage $15 dollars and hour would put many of them out of business,” Bill Chambers, CEO and President at the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chambers said passing this bill could keep these farm stands alive in the state.

“So, to compete with commercial grocers who can operate much lower costs by volume, we need to keep the $15 dollars and hour minimum wage out of the family farm stand business,” Chambers said.

And Chambers said it’s even more crucial right now to make sure this change happens because the pandemic has not helped these businesses.

“You wont see farm stands survive COVID, much less farms period if we don’t make this correction to the minimum wage law,” Chambers said.

We are told this bill is crossfiled with a House bill.

That will be heard Tuesday.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, Maryland