BERLIN – While he won’t be officially sworn in until next month, Maryland’s newest congressman Frank Kratovil is already endearing himself to his First District constituents with a bid to secure a seat on the House Agriculture Committee.
Kratovil edged Republican Andy Harris in the First Congressional District race in November in a narrow election that came down to absentee ballots. Kratovil carried the nine rural counties of the Eastern Shore while Harris scored well in the densely populated areas of the district on the other side of Chesapeake Bay.
Kratovil is already making it clear he intends to go to bat for the largely agrarian Eastern Shore counties who so strongly supported him in November including Worcester. Last week, he announced a primary focus of his freshman term would be seeking a seat on the House Agriculture Committee.
Since his victory in November, Kratovil has met with local farmers, agribusiness executives and state agriculture officials to discuss state and federal agricultural issues facing the First District.
“It’s tough to overstate the economic importance of farming to this district and this state,” Kratovil said last week after a meeting with state Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson, who is also tied to the Lower Shore. “Working to secure funding for key federal and state ag programs will be a top priority of mine in Washington, and I look forward to working with farmers and state and local officials to help identify those key priorities.”
Kratovil said the meeting with state agriculture officials covered a wide variety of issues including the federal impact on state agricultural programs and local farmers with an emphasis on farmland preservation, environmental management and renewable energy. The meeting followed another meeting Kratovil had last week with Perdue executives. He described the meeting as a positive discussion that focused extensively on the role that the company can play in improving the environmental sustainability of chicken farming in the region. In addition, Kratovil also stopped in at the Maryland Farm Bureau Convention in Ocean City two weeks ago.
“I think it’s important to hear what the folks who run our farms are saying,” said Kratovil. “Building a national agenda with local priorities needs their input, nobody knows more about the issues small farms are facing than the farmers.”