(Posted Fri. Feb 2nd, 2018)
The National Corn Growers Association congratulated past president Chip Bowling and his family who were inducted into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame last night. Gov. Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder presented the award at the “Taste of Maryland” dinner hosted by the Maryland Agriculture Council. Bowling and his wife, Lynn, accepted the honor on behalf of the family, which is the 49th recipient of the prestigious honor.
Founded in 1991, Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame pays tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to the state's leading industry and have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the communities in which they live and work. Recipients are chosen for their high standards of conduct; personal values; contributions to their community; and performance, leadership, innovation and achievement in agriculture. The winner was chosen by a Governor’s Selection Committee.
The Bowling Family of Charles County has lived and farmed for three generations at their Bunker Hill location and for many generations before that at neighboring farms. Wallace and Martha Bowling purchased the 271-acre farm in 1944. The farm’s main crop was tobacco, which was supplemented by a cattle herd, hogs and grain operation in rotation. Wallace passed away in 1960 when his oldest son, Eddie, was just 18 years old. Eddie stayed home to help raise seven younger siblings and take over the farm, passing up two major league baseball contracts along the way. He ran the farm in partnership with younger siblings Charles, James and Calvin.
In 1998, Charles’ son Chip took over full-time. In 2000, the family decided to take the state’s tobacco buyout program, which left them looking for new ways to remain viable. Chip started Bowling Agri-Services with his wife Lynn and their two daughters, leasing land and buildings from the family’s Bunker Hill Farm. The company has expanded from 200 acres of grain crops in the 90s to nearly 1,000 acres today, leasing land on 16 tracts comprising 102 separate fields. Charles Sr. and his older brother Eddie remain involved in the operation.
In addition to maintaining a successful farm operation, the Bowlings are known for their leadership in the agricultural community. Chip, Lynn and their daughters have been active in the local 4-H program. Chip has held high-profile leadership positions in several local, state and national organizations. This includes the Charles County Farm Bureau and Maryland Grain Producers Association, where he served as president of the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board.
Most recently, Chip served as the president of the National Corn Growers Association. He is the organization’s first president from the East Coast and the first to serve two terms. Through his work with NGCA, he played a major role in many federal initiatives, including the passage of two farm bills.
An eager advocate who has never passed on an opportunity to speak out for his fellow farmers, Bowling often makes the one-hour drive from his farm to Capitol Hill to represent farmers, and hosts delegations from EPA, USDA and others to his farm to see firsthand what farmers do to provide safe, affordable, food, feed and fuel for the consumer. He believes strongly that improving conditions growing corn anywhere in the country is good for all corn farmers. Bowling has spoken on many national issues including crop insurance, farm bill programs, free trade agreements and the Renewable Fuel Standard.