Boost for Farmers
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
Last week's announcement of a cucumber grading plant to open in Bridgeville this summer is exactly what the doctor ordered for Sussex County farmers.
The $3.5-million, 14,000-square foot plant will do far more good for farming in the county than all of those pork barrel farmland preservation programs designed to win the votes of farmers, developers, contractors, environmentalists and others who have decided that farming is more a government service than a private industry.
The plant is expected to double the $6.2 million cucumber business in Delaware and Dorchester County, Md.
The fact is, the only thing that can truly save farmland is farming's profitability. As long as farming is less profitable than development, farmland will be under pressure.
Gov. Minner hit it on the head when she said to farmers at the plant's announcement, "We must begin to search out new opportunities, looking beyond traditional commodities."
If preserving farming -- and not just farmland -- is really our goal, we can only hope that Gov. Minner will put our money where her mouth is and focus the state less on farmland preservation funding and more on working with the state's various agricultural agencies to bring new market opportunities to our farmers.
The awarding of $145,000 to the University of Delaware to research ways to improve the state's vegetable processing industry is a step in the right direction and is a whole lot of millions less than the $55.2 million we've already spent on permanent farmland preservation.
The bottom line is farming, like all other businesses, must continually adapt to market conditions to thrive.
Just as our tourism industry must adapt to the ever-changing expectations of tourists, just as independent retailers must adapt to the invasion of big box retailers, just as independent ISPs like Sussex County Online must adapt to the ability of larger ISPs to reach into Sussex County, so must farmers adapt to changing market conditions.
As we've seen too often in this country, handouts have never saved anything for long.
Lifelong Sussex County resident and Director of the Sussex County Economic Development office, Frank B. Calio, has been nominated for the state's top Elections post by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner.
The 64-year-old Laurel resident has been nominated to be Commissioner of Elections by Minner. A hearing will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2002, on Calio's nomination by the Senate's Judiciary Committee.
The chairman of that committee, Sen. Thurman Adams of Bridgeville, said he expects a vote on Calio's nomination within a few days.
If confirmed, Calio would replace Thomas J. Cook, who left to head the state's new Government Information Center in December.
Calio has already resigned his position with the Sussex County Economic Development Office and has been temporarily replaced by the office's assistant director, Steve Masten.
Calio has directed the county's economic development office since 1991. During that time, he has helped expand the Sussex County Airport, which now employs more than 650 people with a payroll of $15 million with companies such as DeCrane.
Calio served as the chief reading clerk for the state House of Representatives from 1962-1964 and as administrative assistant to the Secretary of Public Safety from 1973-75.
The celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in Seaford, with the theme "United We Stand", has been expanded to an all-day event this year.
Beginning at 11 a.m. at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club on Virginia Avenue, the event will include a keynote address by Lt. Col. Clifton Everton, music, entertainment, liturgical dance, a fashion show, and refreshments.
Lt. Col. Clifton, a Seaford native, helped bring the first black teacher to the Seaford School district.
The celebration also includes the granting of scholarships to local students.
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