Maryland Grain Producers

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Farm of the Year Award goes to the Ernst Family


The Washington County Department of Business Development, Agricultural Business Development, announced that Ernst Grain and Livestock Farm in Clear Spring is the recipient of the 2017-18 Washington County Maryland Farm of the Year award.

Founded in 1832, the Ernst Farm is 185 years old. It raises livestock and grows a variety of crops, including soybeans, corn, cover crops, wheat, alfalfa, timothy, orchard grass, smooth brome hay, barley and Canadian oats on more than 500 acres.

The seventh-generation farm raises hogs and sheep. The breeding programs for purebred and cross-bred animals show the dedication to the hog and sheep industry. The Ernst Grain and Livestock Farm features Poland China hogs, along with crossbred hogs featuring Berkshire, Chester White, Yorkshire, Duroc and Hampshire. The sheep there include Dorset, Texel and Polypay.

Steve Ernst currently serves as President of the Maryland Grain Producers Association. The next generation of Ernsts is the oldest son, Joshua Ernst. He has added a non-GMO product line as the farm continues to diversify and grow. The bio-secure animal area is an example of the Ernst family's dedication to preventing health concerns and improving pork and lamb production results.

 The Ernst family has utilized many best management practices to manage nutrients and minimize sediment loss on their Washington County farm. The farm has an agriculture chemical facility, 126 acres of cover crop and 498 acres in residue management, mulch till. They have installed 13,273 feet of stream fencing and four stream crossings. There are also 31.6 acres of riparian forest buffer and 1.3 acres of grassed waterway on the farm.

"The dedication to the Clear Spring community, the steadfast commitment to the county and state agricultural community, the focus and long-term goals on high-quality animal breeding and production quality and the economic vow and pledge to keep the Ernst Family in agricultural production for over seven generations shows this family is here to stay for many generations to come," Cody Pine said in his application submission.

Ernst Grain and Livestock Farm was featured in a November of 2016 episode of Maryland Public Television's "Maryland Farm and Harvest." The focus of the program was the next generation on the farm. In order to make a new profitable enterprise, the family developed custom-blended grain products in small size lots/bags to meet specialty growers' needs.

To be eligible for the Maryland Farm of the Year award, the principal farm operator/owner must be in business for a minimum of five years and be on at least five acres of agriculturally zoned land and primarily located in Washington County. Winning farms showcase excellence in agriculture and promote a greater understanding of the challenges faced by today's farmers. Numerous criteria are judged, including production, conservation, preservation, community involvement, and dedication to farming and agriculture.