Study: Numbers show value of value-added agriculture
STEVENSVILLE, Md. — Value-added agriculture generates more than $20 billion in economic impact in Maryland and supports more than 77,000 jobs, early data from a Salisbury University study show.
A summary of the study was presented at Grow & Fortify’s annual value-added agriculture summit on Dec. 6.
The Baltimore company, which manages several value-added trade associations in Maryland, commissioned the study last year to better understand the size and economic impact of value-added agriculture across the state as Grow & Fortify markets and lobbies on behalf of producers, said Kevin Atticks, the company’s founder and chief executive officer.
“The numbers are such a critical element to that, and up to now, we’ve not had the numbers,” he said. “It’s really important to know the value of an industry.”
The university’s Business Economic and Community Outreach Network, which ran the study, examined value-added activity across many agricultural sectors, including poultry, dairy, forestry, grains and fruits and vegetables. Large-scale forestry and the equine and racing industries are the largest value-added sectors in the state, the summary said.
Large-scale forestry creates a $3 billion economic impact and supports nearly 13,000 jobs. The equine and racing industries have a $1.3 billion economic impact and support more than 20,000 jobs. The state’s value-added poultry and dairy sectors were also large contributors, generating $580 million and $313 million in respective economic impact. Together, they support about 18,000 jobs. Nursery operations generated a $188 million impact, supporting 1,250 jobs.
“Public policy decision makers need to know how important this industry is when they’re making (decisions),” said Memo Diriker, director of the university network.
Economic impacts for other sectors include:
• Seafood and aquaculture: $117 million, more than 1,000 jobs;
• Fruits and vegetables: $50 million, 337 jobs;
• Grains and feed crops: $50 million, 200 jobs;
• Small animals: $14.8 million, 422 jobs;
• Large animals: $11.4 milion, 325 jobs; and
• Exotic plants and spices: $2.25 million, 50 jobs.
Each sector’s economic impact includes not only the value of the sector, but the total ripple effect it has on the larger economy, Diriker said. The study was the hardest of his career due to the debatable definitions of value-added agriculture, he said.
The network followed USDA’s definition of value-added products.
“The project was fascinating,” Diriker said, adding, “It still doesn’t make it easy to determine what goes under value-added, what is commodity and is processed food, say.”
The full study will be released next month, Atticks said.
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