Delaware farmers are among the most productive and efficient in the nation, with the First State remaining first in the nation in the value of agricultural products sold per acre, according to U.S. Census of Agriculture data released May 2.
Sussex County remains the No. 1 broiler chicken-producing county in the nation, a position that dates back to the 1940s, and Delaware retained its spot as the state with the largest amount of lima bean acres harvested, according to 2012 Census of Agriculture data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“Delaware farmers are maintaining their long and proud tradition of producing the best and freshest farm products,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “This is a testament to their hard work, resilience and dedication to their craft.”
“Delaware farmers know how to get the job done,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. “This data confirms what many people already know: Farmers are the backbone of Delaware’s economy. But they’re more than just tillers of soil – Delaware farmers are smart businesspeople as well. They work hard every day to build efficient enterprises, increase productivity and grow the food that feeds our families.”
The new census data also shows that agriculture remains Delaware’s largest single land use, with 41 percent of Delaware’s land (or 508,652 acres) in farming – 24 percent of New Castle County’s land, 46 percent of Kent County’s and 45 percent of Sussex County’s.
In the national rankings, Delaware was just ahead of California in the market value of agricultural products sold per acre, at $2,505 to California’s $1,667. Delaware was No. 2 in the value of agricultural products sold per farm, at $519,794 to first-place California’s $547,510.
Meanwhile, Sussex County again recorded the top number nationally in broiler chicken production, with 174 million birds produced in 2012. Polk County, Texas, ranked second, with 125 million birds.
Kee and Chris Cadwallader, Delaware state statistician for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said the participation of Delaware’s farmers in providing data is key to showing the industry’s importance both economically and environmentally. “It is critical to helping everyone understand agriculture,” Cadwallader said. “A big ‘thank you’ is owed to the Delaware agricultural community for making the Delaware 2012 Census of Agriculture a success.”
The USDA released the full Census of Agriculture results Friday, including county-level data on many topics. Preliminary state-level data released in February showed that state agricultural production hit a record $1.2 billion in 2012, up 19 percent from 2007. The value of crop production also more than doubled, to $429 million, while the amount of farmland and number of farms both decreased slightly, mirroring national trends. Complete Census data is online atagcensus.usda.gov.
Other highlights in Delaware’s 2012 Census results:
• Irrigation use was up 22 percent, to 127,272 acres versus 104,562 in 2007. All three counties saw increases in irrigated acreage.
• More Delaware farmers have Internet access than in 2007, up 12 percent to 68 percent. Farmers are increasingly using mobile technologies and high-speed Internet access to map their farmland, plan production and conduct business transactions.