Worcester Officials Voice Support For Agritourism Bill

Worcester Officials Voice Support For Agritourism Bill
Sen. Mary Beth Carozza presents an agritourism bill Tuesday.

SNOW HILL – Local officials testified in support of a bill that would allow for more agritourism in Worcester County this week.

On Tuesday, Worcester County Commissioner Diana Purnell and Melanie Pursel, director of the Worcester County Office of Tourism and Economic Development, testified in support of Senate Bill 32 as it was heard by the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mary Beth Carozza to pave the way for more agritourism in Worcester County.

“This legislation is a win-win for both the farm families who may need to diversify and pull in additional revenue just to keep the farm and a win for tourists who will have more options to explore and experience our local farms,” Carozza said.

Carozza told the committee the bill would simply add Worcester County to the list of 18 jurisdictions in which farm structures used for agritourism activities are exempted from certain requirements typically applied to commercial buildings. The bill would be effective June 1, so it would be in effect for the summer season.

“Specifically, this legislation would exempt an agriculture building in Worcester County used for agritourism from obtaining a change of occupancy permit if the building’s use of agritourism does not require it to be occupied by more than 200 people at any one time,” Carozza said.

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Purnell addressed the need to support family farms as they were a key part of Worcester County.

“Family farms, they are the heart of the rural life in Worcester County,” she said. “And thanks to the growth of the agritourism market, family farms are also a key component in Worcester County’s tourism branding.”

She said Senate Bill 32 would give farmers the flexibility to use their existing structures for agritourism uses that complemented their farms.

“From tasting rooms for wineries to barn weddings set against the backdrop of horse farms, these new activities will ensure that farms can remain economically viable, entice those inheriting the land to continue farming and educate those from less rural areas about the value of farming,” she said.

Pursel said the bill would support the efforts local officials have already made.

“Here locally the Worcester County Commissioners have supported even local code amendments and changes to make it a little bit easier for these businesses to diversify and to expand their operations…,” she said. “We look forward to inviting you to visit some of these great places once they’re able to really add a lot more experience and enjoy the open farms here in Worcester County.”

2022 Proposed Budget

January 20, 2022


Contact: Gabrielle Titow, (410) 841-3645 


Annapolis, MD– “Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed economic recovery budget funds Shore priorities, would provide record-level tax relief to State retirees and hard-working Marylanders, and increase the Rainy Day fund to a record $3.6 billion,” Senator Carozza said after reviewing Governor Hogan’s Fiscal Year 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets. “I want to publicly thank Governor Hogan and his administration for their continued support of our Shore priorities.”

Governor Hogan’s FY’23 budget was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly on January 19, 2022. The proposed $58.2 billion in the Operating Budget includes a record $8.15 billion for K-12 education; $1 billion for school construction projects in every jurisdiction; $14.1 billion in total funds for Maryland’s Medicaid program; $500 million over three years to state and local police agencies; $996 million—for mental health and substance use disorder programs; and $4.6 billion for tax relief, small businesses, and retirees. All of these priorities are funded with no new taxes and additionally increases Maryland’s Rainy Day Fund by a record $3.6 billion. 

Shore Operating Budget Highlights 

  • $23 million for the Cover Crop program to support farmers who reduce agricultural run-off into the Chesapeake Bay
  • $12.4 million for the Maryland Tourism Development Board to boost travel and tourism in Maryland
  • $8 million to support the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
  • $1 million to start construction of the US 13 business bridge over the East Branch of the Wicomico River in Wicomico County and $425,000 to finish early planning for the Route 90 bridge expansion into Ocean City in Worcester County.
  •  $1 million to support small businesses and other economic recovery efforts through the Main Street Maryland Program
  • $1 million for Junior Achievement Eastern Shore in Wicomico County


Shore Capital Budget Highlights


Somerset County 

  • $11.2 million to Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) for infrastructure and security improvements 
  • $10.3 million to University of Maryland Eastern Shore for the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and Campus Flood Mitigation Project
  • $6 million for Princess Anne Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Upgrade 
  • $3 million for Somers Cove Marina Bulkhead Replacement Phase 3, Crisfield
  • $2.6 million for Smith Island Clean Water Project
  • $150,000 for Webster Cove Marina improvements, Mt. Vernon
  • $43,000 to Pocomoke City for Cypress Park improvements


Wicomico County

  • $1.9 million Salisbury University - Blackwell Hall renovation
  • $750,000 Dredge material placement site expansion, Wicomico River
  • $500,000 Salisbury Rail Trail - Phase Five
  • $250,000 for Willards - Town Park improvements
  • $250,000 for  Salisbury Zoological Park for bear exhibit upgrades
  • $125,300 for Pittsville - Town Park Playground improvements 
  • $50,000 Former Linens of the Week - Hazardous Substance Clean-up, Salisbury
  • $50,000 Nanticoke Harbor Dredging


Worcester County

  • $11.1 million for the new Maryland State Police Barrack, forensic lab, and garage, Berlin
  • $5.2 million for Assateague State Park - Replacement of the Camper Registration Building
  • $2 million for Ocean City Beach Replenishment and Hurricane Protection Program
  • $1.2 million for Shad Landing and Milburn Landing Boat Ramp and Comfort Station improvements
  • $782,930 for the Snow Hill Purnell Street water improvements
  • $525,500 for Chesapeake Health Care - Facility Acquisition, Berlin
  • $265,400 for Ocean City - Northside Park Playground improvements
  • $250,000 for South Point Assateague side boat ramp restoration
  • $111,650 for Berlin - Dr. William Henry Park Basketball Court Lighting
  • $50,000 for Public Landing - Retaining Wall and Rip Rap Design

Carozza Comments on New Session Priorities

Maryland General Assembly back for new legislative session - 47abc (

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MARYLAND – Wednesday was opening day for the Maryland General Assembly, and lawmakers say they’re in for a busy session with lots of legislation underway.

We’re told Wednesday set the pace for the next 90 days, with the focus on things like health in terms of COVID-19 and finding more ways to keep Marylanders safe. Senator Mary Beth Carozza tells 47ABC her priorities are in line with Governor Hogan, with things like public safety and anti-crime legislation will be in this session. She adds she’s also focused on education and keeping students in the classroom safely and fair representation.

“We’ve basically had two tracks. One is the congressional map which is what we worked on in the special session, and now we will work on the state legislative maps for senators and delegates,” Sen. Carozza said.  “Again, I am strongly against gerrymandered maps because what that means is that it’s simply not fair for my constituents on the Eastern Shore. So I will be looking for fairness and representation.”

Senator Carozza also says her committee handles the highest number of bills in the entire Maryland General Assembly this session. We’re told hearings being held in committees will be virtual at least until mid-February.


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Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate