Delaware Public Media

Poultry driving spike in Delaware's per farm profits

Apr 12, 2019

The results are in from Delaware’s 2017 agriculture census. The new five-year data shows the average net income per farm has more than doubled since 2012—rising from $130,842 per farm to $277,316.

But Delaware Ag Department Deputy Secretary Austin Short notes that does not include last year’s season in which rains decimated crops and qualified some First State farmers for federal relief.

“We were glad to see farm income remains strong,” said Short. “Unfortunately, this past year 2018, which was obviously after the census, was a tough year, but in general the farm economy remains strong in Delaware.”

The bump in net income is attributed mainly to growth in poultry, livestock, and livestock products. Poultry led Delaware’s entire ag industry with more than $1.1 billion in production.

The 2017 survey featured some changes to demographic questions. The results showed a rise in Delaware farm producers from more than 3,700 to just over 3,900. There was also a 12% increase in female farmers and an uptick in farmers with less than 10 years of experience.

“I think people are realizing, in general, agriculture has a lot to offer,” said Short. “For years the stereotype was old McDonald with overalls and driving old equipment and I think people are realizing there is much more to agriculture than that.”

The new data also shows agriculture continues to take up the largest amount of the state’s land use at 42% and actually increased from the 2012 census—with more than 525,000 acres of total farmland.