At the beginning of this week former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Kee, came in and gave us a broad idea about Delaware’s agriculture industry and its history. He covered everything from technological advances to the advantages of being a Delaware farmer. Did you know 41% of Delaware’s land mass is farmland and agriculture its largest industry? We learned that Delaware’s location is great for farmers. In the old days being close to cities meant that processors weren’t too far away. For example, in the mid 1800’s Baltimore companies were large buyers of Delaware crops for canning. Canning allowed the preservation of the products and nutrients which helped reduce scurvy. In modern days 1/3 of the United States population lives within an eight-hour drive of Delaware giving farmers here a lot of opportunities in the market. The completion of the Delaware Rail Road in 1859 allowed the shipment of Delaware products to go further and faster. Being a large poultry state, Delaware farmers don’t need to send their feed grains very far and receive a premium.
While as Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee started a program that helps young farmers get in to farming. The program gives up to $500,000 to assist in the purchasing of land. This helps preserve Delaware farmland because the state ensures it will be used for farming. So far this program has assisted almost 30 young farmers buy over 2,300 throughout the state.