Delaware Agribusiness - Farming the 21st Century Way

Local Ag R&D is growing; Farmland is increasingly protected

WILMINGTON, Del.July 19, 2019. The Delaware agribusiness sector is growing, as ag-science companies expand their presence and the state approves additional farmland preservation.

FMC Corporation plans to invest more than $50 million over the next three years in capital improvement projects, including a state-of-the-art reconfiguration of a greenhouse and research facility at the company’s Global Research and Development headquarters in Newark, Delaware.

Last month, FMC Corporation, an agricultural sciences company, announced a $50M investment to completely reconfigure a new greenhouse complex and perform other site improvements at its global R&D headquarters in Newark, Del. In May, Corteva Agriscience spun off from DowDuPont (keeping its Delaware headquarters) to become the leading agricultural sciences firm, with an estimated $14B in annual revenue. And last year, Belchim, a Belgian chemical crop protection company, established its U.S. headquarters in Delaware to capitalize on the state’s concentration of bioscience firms and talent.

To support the sector, Delaware Governor John Carney announced new farmland preservation. More than 25 percent of Delaware’s farmland (134,000 acres) is now permanently preserved, thanks to matching funds from multiple sources, including the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), the United States Navy’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, Sussex County Council, New Castle County Council, and Kent County Levy Court.

Agriculture in Delaware

Ag-science and Agtech are reinventing one of America’s legacy sectors – farming. That’s part of the reason Delaware has one of the nation’s most successful farm industries in the country. Ed Kee, DPP Board member and Delaware’s former Secretary of Agriculture explains, “Nothing can replace the experience, know-how, and powers of observation of the farmer.” In Delaware, agriculture is the single largest land use with nearly 40 percent of land across 2,500 farms devoted to agricultural production. And it pays off—in 2017, Delaware ranked second in the nation in per-farm sales, with an average of $637,000 per farm, which was significantly greater than the national average of $190,000 per farm.

Most farms in Delaware, 39 percent of the total, are between 10 to 49 acres and produce commodities such as lima beans, soy, corn, and wheat. In fact, Delaware produces the most lima bean of any state in the nation—more than one-third of the U.S. total. The annual harvest of more than 350,000 acres of corn and soybeans is used to produce chicken feed, with almost $1 billion of chicken feed ingredients purchased across the Delmarva Peninsula in 2017.

Poultry Production

Statewide, Delaware farmers produced 1.87 billion pounds of chicken in 2017. Sussex County, Delaware is the #1 producer of poultry and eggs in the nation. The county is considered the birthplace of the broiler chicken industry, and it continues to be the top broiler producing county in the United States. Poultry production companies like Mountaire Farms and Allen Harim Foods call the state home. Perdue Farms in Milford, Delaware is the nation’s largest USDA-certified organic chicken plant.

About Delaware Prosperity Partnership

Created in 2017, Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) is the nonprofit that leads the state of Delaware’s economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses, including agribusiness companies. DPP works with site selectors, commercial developers and business executives focused on where to locate or grow a business. The team helps with reviewing potential sites, cost-of-living analysis, quality-of-life intel and funding opportunities, including available tax credits and incentives. For more information, visit www.choosedelaware.com.