FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Grow & Fortify’s Kelly Dudeck To Chair Maryland Agriculture Commission
(ANNAPOLIS, MD) – Grow & Fortify is pleased to announce the appointment of their Chief Strategy Officer, Kelly Dudeck, to the chair of the Maryland Agriculture Commission. The Maryland Agriculture Commission serves as an advisory role to the secretary and deputy secretary of agriculture and addresses legislative and policy issues that affect Maryland agribusiness. Each member of the commission is appointed by Governor Larry Hogan. Dudeck joined the commission in 2020 to represent the agritourism sector and now ascends to Chair.
“I’d like to extend my appreciation to our outgoing Chair, Michelle Chesnik, and her leadership over these past two years. I’m honored to have been chosen for this role by my colleagues, and look forward to working with them and the administration,” said Dudeck. “These past two years have been challenging for the agricultural sector, and unfortunately, the challenges continue to mount. It’s so important that we have a mechanism, such as this commission, for experts to report on their respective sector – ensuring that the Maryland Department of Agriculture, and Governor Larry Hogan, are aware, and assisting in any way they can.”
Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder said, “Kelly has been a vital part of the Ag Commission since 2020. Her knowledge and understanding of agritourism has (sic) proven to be an asset in promoting this sector. I wish her nothing but success as she takes on this new role with the Commission.”
In her role at Grow & Fortify, an organization built to support value-added agricultural organizations and the businesses they represent, Dudeck aligns the firm’s objectives to support and promote Maryland’s value-added agriculture and agritourism industry, and her experience within the industry is significant.
“Kelly has worked diligently to make Grow and Fortify the success it has become. She has made the commodities she represents stand out,” said the outgoing Maryland Agricultural Commission Chair Michelle Chesnik. “I anticipate that under her leadership as the Chair of the commission we will see the same success.”
Dudeck led an effort to produce the state’s first economic analysis of Maryland’s Value-Added Agriculture sector. Published in 2020, this analysis serves as a vital tool needed to help this industry grow and thrive. Through Grow & Fortify’s work with the state’s beverage alcohol industry, Dudeck spearheads a collection of consumer events and competitions. Each event celebrates the union of local agriculture and small business entrepreneurship.
Dean and Director of the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Craig Beyrouty said, “Here in our college, we believe it is critical to facilitate a greater public connection back to the food system, and with Kelly as chair, I feel confident that she will strengthen that tie while also generating new opportunities and income for Maryland’s valued farmers and producers.”
In 2021, Dudeck also teamed with the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) to produce and promote ‘An Introduction to Southern Maryland’s Forestry Industry.’ This guide highlights how responsible forest management benefits our state’s ecology and economy. The guide also encourages consumers to identify and seek out products made from locally sourced wood and explores forestry career opportunities.
Dudeck also organizes the bi-annual Grow & Fortify Summit, which unites local value-added and agritourism businesses, and will return for its first post-Covid event in December 2022. This summit introduces key industry players to strategic partners from the government and private sector. Through her work cultivating these relationships, Dudeck has provided immeasurable support to Maryland farmers and innovators.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Connelly said, “Agritourism is one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in Maryland and Kelly has represented the burgeoning industry well as a member of the commission. As the new Chair, she will bring her experience and knowledge of agriculture as a whole to the role and take it to the next level.”
To learn more about value-added agriculture and agritourism in Maryland, visit the Grow & Fortify website at www.growandfortify.com. If you’d like a grain or grape-to-glass experience, join the Grow & Fortify team at the 2022 Maryland Beer, Wine, & Spirits Festival on Saturday, July 9 at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.
About Grow & Fortify
Grow & Fortify is built to support value-added agricultural organizations and the businesses they represent. We’ve gathered a team of professionals to support agricultural startups and ensure the financial viability of our land, and ultimately, our community.
Grow & Fortify is currently retained to represent the Brewers Association of Maryland, the Maryland Distillers Guild, and the Maryland Wineries Association.