Gov. Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder inducted the Cross family of Prince George’s County into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame during the Maryland Agriculture Council’s “Taste of Maryland Agriculture” event, held virtually this year.
"This year more than ever, it is clear how incredibly important the work of our farmers and producers is to each and every Marylander," Hogan said. "The resilience and perseverance of the Cross family has allowed their operation to grow and serve their community for more than a century. They represent the best of Maryland’s agriculture industry, and it is an honor to induct the Cross family into the Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame."
The Cross family is the 53rd inductee in the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame. They have been farming in Prince George’s County since John and Elizabeth Cross moved to North Keys in the mid-1800s, where they raised 11 children.
The family grew tobacco and served as the local market for other growers in the area. The Cross brothers also operated a small feed and fertilizer store that would later become a Southern States Cooperative franchise location, giving them the ability to expand their market and serve a wider range of Maryland farmers.
In addition to their tobacco and feed businesses, the Crosses grew a variety of field crops and raised beef cattle and chickens. As their operation continued to grow, the family decided to incorporate the family business in 1986, making Sandra Cross the president and 100% stockholder of R&D Cross Inc.
In recent years, the family made the decision to transition away from growing tobacco, converting to just corn and soybeans in rotation with hay, which is sold as feed at the family’s store.
The Cross family also hosts an annual public education dinner on its farm that emphasizes various agricultural topics, including chemical and fertilizer use, equine updates, safety practices, and information on agricultural products. Their efforts to embrace conservation practices and educate the public earned them the honor in 2009 as the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District’s Cooperator of the Year.
As an essential business, R&D Cross Inc. kept its operation running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with stringent safety measures to protect workers and customers. With curbside pickup and expanded delivery options, the store has been able to continue providing critical supplies to farmers, gardeners and animal owners during these unprecedented times.
Off the farm, the family is also active in its local community, supporting 4-H groups, scouts and Little League sports teams. Sandra has taken on an active leadership role in the family’s church, where she is celebrating 60 years of volunteer service as the organist and choir director.