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Milk price bill praised at ag forum

May 30, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Glendening administration officials Friday praised Maryland's efforts at aiding its agriculture industry and urged more support for programs designed to preserve green space.

Speaking at the Forvm for Rural Maryland - the "v" is for "voice" - at the Best Western Venice Inn, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Royden Powell talked glowingly of recent attempts to bolster the state's lagging dairy industry.

Powell praised Del. Paul S. Stull, R-Frederick, who co-sponsored legislation to allow the state to join a price-support milk compact.

"This guy raised something from the dead," Powell said.

Before Maryland can join, however, a bordering state must also join. Stull said legislation has cleared the New York Senate and is under consideration in a Pennsylvania legislative committee.

The final hurdle would be approval by Congress. Stull said he is confident but has not yet met with the state's congressional representatives.

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Another issue on the minds of forum participants was open space. H. Grant Dehart, director of the state's Program Open Space, said Maryland has preserved hundreds of thousands of acres through a combination of direct purchases and easements.

"We have a lot to be proud of in Maryland. That's the good news," he said. "The bad news is we're losing a lot of land We're literally losing ground."

Dehart said the state projects 500,000 acres of land to be gobbled up by development over the next 25 years, almost twice as much land as will be preserved.

There is another danger, Dehart cautioned. In many counties, the pattern of open space preservation has been scattered, which he said is "as bad or worse than sprawl patterns of development."

If development fills in the gaps between green space, it could seriously diminish the value of the preservation in the first place, Dehart said.

Dehart touted the Rural Legacy Program, an initiative launched last year that pledges to spend $71.3 million over five years to establish green belts of forests an farms around rural communities.

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