Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has signed a contract to purchase the Lothian grain elevator from Perdue Agribusiness.
Parties have 90 days from signing to close the $1.25 million deal.
The county will conduct an environmental assessment, appraisal, and seek county council approval. The state’s FY24 proposed budget includes funding to reimburse the county for the purchase and initial capital needs.
“In a very short timeframe, we concluded that this facility could and should support local farms for many decades into the future," said County Executive Steuart Pittman. "Once purchased, we expect to lease the facility to an experienced elevator operator, and then to work with the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) on plans for additional agriculture support services at the site, such as composting, a mill or other uses.”
Perdue announced closure of grain elevator in January 2021
Perdue first announced its intent to close the grain elevator in January 2021. After speaking with local farmers who depend on the facility to purchase their crops, Pittman expressed concern publicly and spoke privately to Perdue CEO Randy Day about delaying the closure to allow time for a new owner to step in and continue operations there.
Since that time, Senator Sarah Elfreth convened stakeholders from Anne Arundel, St. Mary’s, Calvert, and Charles Counties, SMADC, Maryland Department of Agriculture, and Anne Arundel Farm Bureau to discuss transfer of the facility to a public entity with state financial assistance.
"The Lothian grain elevator is essential infrastructure for our Southern Maryland and Anne Arundel County farmers,” said Elfreth.” State funding and county leadership to save the grain elevator was truly a team effort."
The SMADC noted the Lothian grain elevator is a much-needed investment for the future of agriculture in the region.
"We are looking forward to being involved in the new value-added agricultural innovation potential that the site has," said SMADC Director Shelby Watson-Hampton.
Grain elevator a critical component of Delmarva's poultry industry
MDA Secretary Kevin Atticks thanked all who were involved in the discussions to keep the grain elevator in Lothian.
“Southern Maryland is a major part of the Delmarva's poultry industry," said Atticks. "Keeping this grain elevator open for Southern Maryland farmers to access is vital to the Maryland ag community.”
The Lothian grain elevator serves farmers in all five southern Maryland counties. Perdue AgriBusiness has operated the facility since 2002. Small operators who do not have their own storage silos depended on this single facility to get their product to market.
Perdue CEO Day noted while the Lothian facility has been a critical part of the southern Maryland agricultural community, there has been a significant reduction in farmland and a dramatic reduction in total harvested grain acres over the last 20 years, leading Perdue to shift its business strategy in the area.
"While Perdue announced its intention to close the facility in response to these changes, we remained committed to keeping the facility open while finding a suitable buyer," said Day. "We think this transaction is a win for local farmers, and we are glad we were able to come to an agreement.”