In 1994, the Rural Maryland Council was initiated by the Governor as the Forvm for Rural Maryland (Executive Order 01.01.1994.14) and by statute in 1995 (Chapter 119, Acts of 1995). In July 2003, the Forvm restructured as the Rural Maryland Council (Chapter 266, Acts of 2003).

The Council is a State rural development agency which addresses problems and challenges facing rural communities in Maryland. Since 2003, the Council also has administered the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund.

An independent agency, the Council for administrative and budgetary purposes only is placed under the Department of Agriculture.

Council membership is open to any Maryland citizen who subscribes to the goals of the Council and has an interest in rural Maryland. The Council also includes the Governor (or designee) as a nonvoting member; three State senators and three members of the House of Delegates from the three rural regions of the State; one Senator or Delegate from Harford County; representatives from federal agencies that serve rural interests; and representatives from private sector organizations, including rural client groups and rural-based profit and nonprofit organizations (Code Economic Development Article, secs. 13-401 through 13-417).


On programs and regulatory matters of concern to rural communities, the Executive Board oversees and directs the affairs of the Council.

The Executive Board consists of up to forty-five members. Of these, thirty are voting members, seven are nonvoting members, and eight serve ex officio. The chair of the Rural Maryland Council serves as chair of the Board (Code Economic Development Article, sec. 13-407 through 13-410).


In July 2000, the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund was established (Chapter 552, Acts of 2000). The Fund's purpose is to alleviate the fiscal difficulties of rural regional planning and economic development associations, rural community development programs, and advanced technology centers that serve agricultural and natural resource-based small businesses in rural areas.

When first created, the Fund was administered by the Board of Public Works, while the Department of Business and Economic Development awarded grants. In 2003, the Rural Maryland Council began to administer the Fund and award grants (Chapter 266, Acts of 2003; Code State Finance & Procurement Article, sec. 2-206).

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