CAMBRIDGE — On Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan stopped by J.M. Clayton Company in Cambridge to show his support for the Maryland seafood industry and to recognize the business for its continuous operation since 1890.
The governor, Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder and others toured the crab-processing plant. Gov. Hogan and Secretary Bartenfelder took the tour as an opportunity to support House Bill 120, which would move the state’s seafood and aquaculture marketing program from the Department of Natural Resources back to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. During the visit, Gov. Hogan unveiled a new logo concept for Maryland’s Best Seafood.
“This is an incredible honor to be here with all this history that you’ve got going on,” Gov. Hogan told Jack Brooks, one of the operators of the family-owned business. “We’re going to do everything we can to continue to help the Shore and particularly our seafood industry, our watermen and our farmers.”
According to a Monday news release from the Department of Agriculture that followed the visit, HB120 will move the program back to the Agriculture Department, where it will join the existing Agriculture Marketing and Development Program. The House Environment and Transportation Committee held a Feb. 8 hearing where the departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources and several industry leaders testified in support of the bill with no opposition.
The bill would create new Maryland’s Best Seafood branding for locally produced products. The industry would also benefit from established relationships with distributors, restaurants, grocery chains and other institutions, in addition to the department’s experience in promoting products to international buyers through the Southern United States Trade Association.
Along with the marketing program, HB120 will move approximately $190,000 in special funds from fees collected on commercial watermen and processing licenses by the Department of Natural Resources. In addition to this funding, the department will be able to pursue further funding from USDA and other grants to support the new program.
After unveiling the new logo, the governor presented a citation to Mr. Brooks, “… in recognition of the oldest working crab processing plant in the world … founded in 1890 and continuing for five generations as a family-owned business,” Gov. Hogan said, “in honor of the success that you have achieved as an Eastern Shore landmark, and a legend in the seafood packing industry.”
The governor wished the company another 100 years of success.
“I accept this on behalf of my company, my brothers Joe and Bill, and my oldest son Clay who works with us here,” Mr. Brooks said in accepting the citation. “Thank you very much, sir. We are very honored that you’re here.”
Bob Zimberoff is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.