County Executive Calvin Ball Announces Innovative HoCo Harvest Program Providing Venison to Local Food Bank
Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced Howard County is launching a new pilot program to provide venison to local food banks. The program will be operated in partnership with the Howard Soil Conservation District and Howard County Economic Development Authority (EDA). The deer will be donated by local hunters, processed by three local businesses, and then delivered to the Howard County Food Bank by the Roving Radish. Any hunter, hunting in Howard County, can participate in the program by simply donating their deer to one of the following processors, Clint’s Cuts of Mt Airy, KS Kuts in Damascus, and M & G Wild Game Processing in Westminster. The program is being funded with approximately $17,000 of the County’s allocation of federal CARES Act funding.
“The pandemic has hampered our previously scheduled deer management shoots, and the overpopulation of deer in areas of our county continues to be an issue for farmers and residents,” said Ball. “Moreover, amid economic challenges, food insecurity has become more substantial for many of our residents. This program achieves two goals – reducing our deer population and providing quality food to our local families in need. This innovative program would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of our partners, and we’re grateful to have such an effective team in place to make this work.”
“I’m delighted to be working with the County Executive and our local farmers in Howard County to help feed families through a challenging winter,” said Maryland State Senator Katie Fry Hester. “This is a big win all the way around.”
“I am very excited about the new HoCo Harvest program for the county and appreciate County Executive Ball’s leadership to begin this pilot,” said James Zoller, Program Manager for the Roving Radish. “The over population of deer in Howard County is not only an economic problem for our farmers but a public safety and natural resources problem. This program is a win-win on many fronts. It is also great to see the strong partnership between the Office of Community Sustainability, Howard Soil Conservation District and Economic Development Authority to administer this program.”
“Most farmers realize there is an overpopulation of deer in Howard County, which is evidenced by significant crop losses and the destruction that deer do to our forest communities,” said David Plummer, District Manager for the Office of Soil Conservation. “HoCo Harvest for the Hungry serves a dual purpose by encouraging hunters to harvest more deer and providing critical food resources for people in need during the difficult winter months in the middle of a challenging pandemic.”
“Utilizing the bounty while helping others is a true opportunity that local hunters are embracing,” said Kathy Johnson, Director of Agriculture Business Development for the EDA. “It is my hope that this program will continue for many years.”