On September 13th, former Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Kee, came in and presented on how the state of Delaware is the US food shed. He also spoke on programs that benefited individuals in the agricultural community. One of these programs is the AgLand Preservation program, which has made it so that there is 110,000 acres permanently preserved for agriculture specifically. If that land becomes vacant, it has to stay agriculture based. This takes up 20% of Delaware’s farmland, meaning that a decent amount of Delaware farmland will always be protected by the state. Another program is the Young farmer’s program, which provides up to 500,000 to a young farmer for a year. Secretary Kee also gave a brief history of the canning industry from the Napoleonic era, all the way up to today. So far, the major tomato canning producers was in Virginia, at 369. In Delaware, the most that could be grown from the year 1866-1946 was only 14-29 bushels. The advancement of agriculture, especially in the produce and poultry industry, is due in part to modifications of genetics, precision agriculture, irrigation, minimum tillage, soil fertility, weed control, and pest management. His final statement was that there is a need for farmers, land Agriculture, and technology to advance the agriculture field.
When people think of Delaware, there are usually two thoughts that first occur: “DelaWHERE?” or “The beach!” However, neither of these thoughts consider Delaware’s #1 industry of agriculture, which greatly contributes to our nation’s food supply. Delaware’s former Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Kee, made sure to clarify this fact for our class, informing us that Delaware first and foremost is an agricultural state. In fact, our little state of Delaware can reach 1/3 of the entire country’s population within 8 hours, allowing Delaware to be a “food shed” of the east coast! A food shed simply means a region or area that produces food for a certain population. As we all know, Delaware is a major poultry producer of the United States. In addition, though, Delaware is also able to produce and sell vegetables (processed or fresh) up and down the east coast, and of course locally. Lima beans are Delaware’s #1 crop, holding the most acreage. Within Delaware alone, there are three main processing companies: PicSweet, J.G. Townsend, and Hanover Foods. These processors utilize crops from over 41,000 acres and providing 2,400 jobs in our community. By processing the crops produced, such as lima beans, sweet corn, peas, and pickles, the agricultural industry is enhanced. Processing crops allows for added crop diversity, more jobs for the community, and overall a stronger agricultural economy!