Prince George's County

Roundtable Aims to Spark Farming Revolution

More than 40 renowned scientists and researchers from the agricultural business community recently joined state and local officials at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center to participate in the inaugural Maryland Agricultural Business Roundtable.

The goal of the Sept. 9 roundtable, created by BARC Director Ellen Harris, is to educate the agricultural science community about the entrepreneurial side of their research and connect scientists with the business community to bring their research to the masses, officials said.

“We had amazing presentations from my scientists, who I am so proud of, and local business leaders who will make great partners,” Harris said. “Because we had not only businesses, but also state and county officials to talk with our scientists, our goal for this roundtable [was] met.”

Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Jim Coleman was among the panelists who talked about avenues for connecting BARC research to the agricultural business community in Prince George’s County and beyond.

“The EDC is proud of the matchmaking it does in the business community, regardless of the industry sector,” Coleman said. “This county is on fire with possibilities and has access to a host of incentives and grants at the federal, state and local levels that can be utilized in the farming industry to help get Prince George’s County residents back to work. As the great-grandson of a farmer, I know that qualified labor is very important.”

The roundtable represents the first time that the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and the business community have come together to showcase how they can mutually help each other be successful.

Scientists briefly shared their research projects and discussed the benefits to agriculture and everyday living.

Kim Lewers, a USDA research service scientist, has been developing a strawberry plant that will bear fruit for nine months or more, instead of the typical three weeks common in this part of the country.

“I am grateful to Dr. Harris for bringing this group of people together who are interested in economic development through agriculture in this region,” Lewers said. “I believe that a lot of potential has been discovered through the presentation Mr. Coleman gave, which can help local growers reach out to retailers to move their produce. This was very exciting.”

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