Maryland Agriculture is $8.25 Billion Industry, UMD Study Shows

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

July 17, 2013 Sara Gavin

 The impact of agriculture on Maryland’s economy amounts to $8.25 billion annually, according to a recent study published by the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland.

The study, conducted by Professor Loretta Lynch and graduate student Jeffrey Ferris, looks beyond the revenue generated from farm products ($1.8 billion) and takes an in-depth look at how the agricultural and forestry industries weave their way into nearly every sector of Maryland’s robust economy.

“While agriculture and forestry uses occupy 66% of Maryland’s land, agriculture only accounts for less than one-percent of the state’s gross domestic product,” says Loretta Lynch, Ph.D., co-author of the study and Director of the Center for Agricultural and Resource Policy at UMD. “We suspected, however, that evaluating the ripple effects generated by agriculture on Maryland’s economy would tell us a different story.”

Using an input-output analysis, the study takes into account the numerous industries that provide supplies and services necessary to process, manufacture and package products grown and harvested from Maryland’s farms and forests. UMD researchers found that for every dollar generated directly by agriculture or forestry industries, 45 cents was added to other sectors in the state; and, for every five jobs generated in these industries, three additional jobs were created around the state. The total economic impact of Maryland agriculture amounted to $8.25 billion annually and 45,600 jobs.

The study was commissioned by Cheng-i Wei, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland. “Agriculture is a part of Maryland’s economy that is often overlooked and underestimated but this study reinforces that it is essential to our state’s economic health,” says Wei, Ph.D. “It is important that we understand the full impact of agriculture so that we continue to discover innovative ways to keep the industry prosperous and train the next generation of leaders who will preserve it.”

The study, the first of its kind since 2005, also highlights the changing face of agriculture in Maryland. While the number of farms in the state continues to decline, farmers are adapting, modernizing and becoming highly efficient, producing more with less for local, regional, national and international markets. Steady profits, however, are necessary to keep Maryland operations from shutting down and causing a snowball effect on the state’s economy.

“The decline of the agricultural and forestry sectors would have an impact on not just farm families and agriculturally based businesses,” the study states. “It would ripple out to the entire economy, causing distress to workers in many sectors, and losses to taxpayers, businesses, and others who benefit from a strong Maryland economy.”

To view further details from the report, The Impact of Agriculture on Maryland’s Economy, please click here. To read the full report, click here.

Contact: Sara Gavin, 301-405-9235 or