Delaware agriculture is an $8 billion industry, according to new UD study

March 24, 2011 under CANR News

Agriculture is an $8 billion industry in Delaware, according to a recent study published by the Department of Food and Resource Economics in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The study — conducted by UD faculty members Titus Awokuse and Tom Ilvento, with help from graduate student Zachary Johnston — used input-output analysis, taking into account the market value of products sold from on-farm production, revenue from processing and manufacturing of agricultural products, and inter-industry linkages to determine the value added to the economy.

A study of this magnitude had not been conducted since the early 1980s. According to the authors, this new report is much more accurate in its calculations for the true impact of agriculture in Delaware.

Historically, $1.1 billion has been the most commonly cited number for the impact of agriculture in Delaware. “But this is the total market value of agricultural products sold at the farm level, just a small piece of the picture,” according to Awokuse, associate professor and director of graduate studies for food and resource economics.

The new report shows that the processing of farm products adds a previously unaccounted for $3.8 billion. Forestry production and processing add an additional $831 million, with ag-related services (i.e. crop dusting, ditch digging) adding $28 million.

The research project was commissioned by Robin Morgan, dean of the college. “This study was needed because the impact of agriculture in Delaware is much larger than farm receipts and (the impact) should account for processing of agricultural products. Agriculture is a large and vital part of Delaware’s economy, and our understanding of its impact needs to be as accurate as possible,” says Morgan.

In addition to the total industry impact, the report provides separate results by county and for several key agricultural commodities: poultry, dairy, fruits and vegetables, corn, soybeans, wheat, greenhouse, nursery and horticultural products.

With Delaware’s long history of poultry production, it was no surprise to the authors that the majority of the economic value of agriculture comes from the production and processing of poultry products, with an industry output of $3.2 billion and over 13,000 jobs.

The report also provides a summary of statistics relative to the changing face of agriculture in Delaware, noting there are fewer farms in Delaware, but the size and productivity of farming operations has increased over time.

Awokuse notes that this trend is in large part because “both technological and biological innovations within agriculture now allow a single operator to be more productive and maintain a larger operation, hence the consolidation of farms across the state.”

And, according to the authors, the state of Delaware agriculture will continue to change.

“Farmers are being asked to produce more on less and less acreage and they turn to science and technology to make that happen. Agriculture is a modern, efficient, technologically advanced industry, even if the image is still rooted in a 19th century image of farming,” says Ilvento, professor and chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics. “Changing that image, assisting farmers to find modern solutions, and promoting the importance of agriculture — that’s what our college is all about.”

A full version of the report can be viewed online.

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.

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Kent Messer co-authors new book

February 17, 2011 under CANR News

Kent Messer, assistant professor of food and resource economics and assistant professor of economics, has written a book on Mathematical Programming for Agricultural, Environmental and Resource Economics. The book is co-authored by Harry M. Kaiser of Cornell University.

Finding that many mathematical programming textbooks don’t cover natural resource and environmental issues, Messer said that he and Kaiser decided to write a book that would address these. “My passion is the world of environmental and resource economics and I also work in agricultural economics, and so while there are many books on operations research and math programming, they end up being targeted towards MBA students. I thought that there are some unique applications to natural resource and environmental problems that these books just don’t cover. And those are the areas that I am most interested in.”

Messer said that Kaiser does a lot of work on agricultural marketing, and since he had an interest in the subject too, they both decided to combine their interests and turn them into a book. “We were really pleased to have Wiley and Sons, a top flight publisher, be willing to publish this book, which will provide a global distribution network.”

The book is divided into two parts, with 13 chapters total. Each chapter contains at least 20 exercises and several research examples.

Messer said that the goal was “to make a reader-friendly textbook that would be great in the classroom and would develop the foundation of quantitative skills needed for research. Thus, the textbook doesn’t just cover theory, but also provides instruction on how to bridge the gap between ‘here are the techniques and here’s how you apply them to research.’”

The book is geared toward graduate students as well as upper level undergraduates who might be looking at doing research in the area.

Messer said he plans to use the book in his future classes but also notes that he has been using parts of the book in his course in a paper version for the past four years. “My previous students have been great at ‘proofing’ the chapters and testing problems.”

For more information about the book, see the website.

This article is an excerpt from a larger UDaily article “Books in Brief.”  Books in Brief is a roundup of recent books by University of Delaware faculty, staff and alumni. For the full article, click here.

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South Dakota State president a CANR Blue Hen

September 8, 2010 under CANR News

When the South Dakota State University football team ventures east to take on the University of Delaware on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 11, at Delaware Stadium, the Jackrabbits will bring with them a Blue Hen.

South Dakota State President David L. Chicoine earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics from UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1971. He also received a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State in 1969, a master’s in economics from Western Illinois University in 1978 and a doctorate in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois in 1979.

Chicoine, who was named president of South Dakota State in 2007, said he and his wife, Marcia, have fond memories of their time spent in Delaware.

He said the move to Delaware in 1969 marked their first time east of the Mississippi River and proved to be an “interesting and exciting life experience.” They brought with them a one-month-old son and arrived at a time of unrest, with Wilmington only recently removed from the watch of the Delaware National Guard following riots.

Chicoine said their first connections were with the faculty and fellow graduate students, and he cited Raymond C. Smith, then the chair of his department, as well as Ulrich C. Toensmeyer and Joachim Elterich. He also said his thesis adviser, Gerald L. Cole, “was first rate.”

Working both in Newark and Southern Delaware, Chicoine said the young family enjoyed seeing the Atlantic Ocean — the first time they had viewed an ocean beach — and eating soft shell crabs. They enjoyed the Delaware and Chesapeake bays, learned about the Delmarva Peninsula and visited many sites in the Brandywine Valley.

“It was a transformational period for us — a great, great experience,” Chicoine said. “We liked the campus, which was larger and very different from the northern Great Plain prairie landscape of South Dakota State.”

Chicoine said his thesis research project was funded by a regional project on the economic impact of seasonal residents on bay and shore communities, and included the collection of original attitudinal data from permanent residents and seasonal residents of those communities.

He spent the summer of 1970 collecting data in Southern Delaware, and said “the focus of the project was on financing the needed infrastructure to accommodate the growth in seasonal residents — sewer, water, roads, public safety — and the efficiency for such given the several jurisdictions in play, the impact on the bay and shore aesthetics and natural environment, and then, of course, methods for funding the capital costs of infrastructure and the annual operating costs.”

Away from the beaches, Chicoine said Southern Delaware was “similar to rural South Dakota but with more poultry operations and specialty crops.”

Chicoine said UD graduate school “prepared us well for the work world, for additional studies and for life.”

He entertained several fine job offers after graduating, accepting a position at the University of Illinois as a regional economist working on rural economic development. He remained at Urbana-Champaign for more than 30 years, receiving his doctorate and serving as a faculty member, department head, dean and vice president.

He returned to his home state and alma mater in January 2007 as president of South Dakota State.

Chicoine said he and Marcia returned to UD about 20 years ago while in the Washington, D.C., area on business. “The University, of course, was significantly different than when we were on campus,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing the campus and the changes that have occurred.”

Chicoine added, “And we are excited about the football game. UD has been an established football FCS program for years, competing in postseason play routinely. I took in a few games in fall of ’69 and fall of ’70. South Dakota State is a new kid on the FCS block, having our first postseason experience in 2009, but we play good football. The game-day experience will be great for our players, our coaches and staff and our alumni in the Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C. region. It will be exciting, but UD will have a game under their belt and the Jacks will be lining up for their opener. I look forward to seeing a great football game, seeing the UD campus again and reminiscing a little of the terrific times.”

The Blue Hens defeated West Chester University 31-0 in the season opener Sept. 2. South Dakota State is ranked No. 9 nationally.

To follow University of Delaware athletics, see BlueHens.com.

For the full story with photo on UDaily, click here.

Article by Neil Thomas

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