Maryland tops region in ag gains

Staff Reporter

(July 1, 2014) Maryland’s agricultural industry posted some of the biggest growth in the nation in 2013, federal data released last week shows.
The agricultural sector recorded a 21.22 percent gain in real gross domestic product from 2012 to 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, placing Maryland at No. 5 on a list of states with the biggest percentage gains in agriculture. Wyoming, New York, Connecticut and Hawaii topped the list ahead of Maryland respectively.
The commerce department includes forestry, fishing and hunting in its agricultural sector.
New Jersey landed at No. 6 with 20.72 percent increase. Virginia sat at No. 39 with a 12.91 percent increase, and Delaware’s data was not included.
Maryland’s agricultural output was valued at about $1.5 billion in 2013, not far above New Jersey’s $1.4 billion. Delaware’s 2013 GDP was not reported, but its agricultural output was valued at $366 million in 2012. Virginia’s was the highest in the region at about $2.5 billion.
The region’s agricultural performance mimicked the nation’s, which grew more than 16 percent in 2013, outpacing all other industries by several multiples. Nationally, economic experts have pinned the recovery on rebounding crops following drought in 2012, better production and rising livestock prices.
Agriculture has averaged a four percent growth rate since 1998, data shows. The information and manufacturing industries were ranked No. 2 and No. 3 nationally with 2013 growth rates at 3.2 percent and 3.1 percent respectively.
In Maryland, however, agriculture remains a very small player. The state’s total 2013 GDP was about $342 billion. Government spending and industries including finance, insurance and professional and business services are the primary economic generators. 
The biggest agricultural producers remain out west. California rests at No. 1 with an agricultural GDP of $46.7 billion. Iowa ranks at No. 2 with about $16 billion, and Minnesota is at No. 3 with about $14 billion.