VOLUME 19 #2

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Agriculture's economic impact is growing

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RESEARCH | Agriculture is an $8 billion industry in Delaware, much larger than previously thought, according to a recent study published by the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Conducted by faculty members Titus Awokuse and Tom Ilvento, with help from graduate student Zachary Johnston, the study used input-output analysis to determine the value added to the economy.

A study of this magnitude had not been conducted since the early 1980s, and according to the authors, this new report is much more accurate in its calculations.

Historically, $1.1 billion has been the most commonly cited number for the impact of agriculture in the state. “But this is the total market value of agricultural products sold at the farm level, just a small piece of the picture,” according to Awokuse, associate professor and director of graduate studies for food and resource economics.

The new report finds, for example, that the processing of farm products adds a previously unaccounted for $3.8 billion to the state’s economy.

With Delaware’s long history of poultry production, it was no surprise to the authors that the majority of the economic value of agriculture comes from the production and processing of poultry products, with an industry output of $3.2 billion and more than 13,000 jobs. Other key agricultural commodities highlighted in the report include dairy, fruits and vegetables, corn, soybeans, wheat and horticultural products.


The report also notes there are fewer farms in the state but that the size and productivity of farming operations have increased over time.

“Farmers are being asked to produce more on less and less acreage, and they turn to science and technology to make that happen,” says Ilvento, professor and chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics.

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