Group standing behind Calvert's Gift Organic herb and vegetable farm sign outside
Updated: January 26, 2022

As with any business, your farm operation is subject to several laws and regulations. Farm operations also receive several exceptions or special provision regarding taxes, land operations and the like. This page provides a short listing of the commonly required permits or certifications for a farm.

Understanding Licenses, Permits and Certifications

Nutrient Management Plans

Farmers with either gross income of at least $2500 or 8 more animal units (1 animal unit is 1000lbs) are required to have a Nutrient Management Plan. These plans can be developed by a nutrient management advisor in your county Extension office or through private industry. Plans are updated annually.  

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Nutrient Voucher Applicator Card

Farm operators who apply nutrients (fertilizer, manure, compost) to at least 10 acres of land are required to have a nutrient applicator voucher. The requirement only applies if you, as the operator, apply the nutrient source. If a custom operator or fertilizer company spreads the nutrients, they are required to have a voucher. Vouchers can be obtained by attending a two hour voucher class once every 3 years. There is no test.

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Private Pesticide Applicator Certification

Farmers who want to purchase and apply Restricted Use Pesticides must first become certified as a private pesticide applicator. Certification is obtained by passing an examination administered by MDA. The certification is renewed every three years by attending a 2 hour recertification course. Extension provides review courses, has study materials  and hosts the test in county offices. 

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Soil Conservation Plans

Soil Conservation Plans are voluntary plans which provides a blueprint for water and soil conservation practices on the farm. They are developed through the county based Soil Conservation Office. The plan can be a valuable tool for farmers to manage resources and improve profitability. A conservation plan is a working document designed to fit each individual farmer's needs.

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Agriculture Property Assessment

Maryland law provides that lands which are actively devoted to farm or agricultural use shall be assessed according to that use. Assume that a 100 acre parcel of land has a market value of $3,000 per acre. The total value of the parcel would be $300,000 (100 x $3,000). The same 100 acre parcel receiving the agricultural use assessment based on a value of $300 per acre would be $30,000 (100 x $300). The taxes using a combined tax rate of $1.132 per $100 of assessment would be $339 [($30,000 ÷ 100) x $1.132] under the agricultural use assessment and $3,396 [($300,000 ÷ 100) x $1.132] under the market value assessment – a difference of $3,057 or $30.57 per acre. (Source: MD Department of Assessments and Taxation)

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Organic Certification

Agriculture producers who plan to sell, label, or represent products as “organic” must meet the requirements of the National Organic Program (NOP) and be certified. The certification process typically takes three years, though there are exceptions. 

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Building Permits for Farm Structures

The requirements fo building permits for farm structures vary by county. Many counties, especially in the rural tiers have reduced permitting requirements for farm buildings. New storm water management regulations are also now required for farm buildings which exceed a certain size. Always check with your local Planning and Zoning office for the county specific requirements.

Listing of all Planning and Zoning Offices

Marketing and Food Processing

The sale of processed or adulterated food is regulated by several agencies. There are also regulations which affect the sale of products directly from the farm (direct sales) and requirements for collection of sales taxes.

Complete Description of Regulations Surrounding Marketing and Food Processing