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Agriculture as an Economic Driver in Adams County

Tim Kelsey, Ph.D., Professor of Agricultural Economics at Penn State, gave a wonderful presentation at the March Ag Issue’s Breakfast. Dr. Kelsey spoke on the role of agriculture in Adams County, specifically its economic impact or local value. With 1,289 farms and a $24.1 million farm labor payroll agriculture is one of Adams County’s top industries.
Farm Fresh Logo for locally grown produce

Farm Fresh Logo for locally grown produce

Dr. Kelsey described both production and consumption impacts of the county's ag businesses. Dr. Kelsey showed the large role farms play in Adams County with employment, fresh food supply and tax revenue.

After Dr. Kelsey gave an overview of agriculture in Adams County with type of farms and sales he showed how much the general economy in Adams County is linked to agriculture. Farming, like other professions, needs inputs, creates outputs and both of these create jobs for a variety of professionals including vets, building/contractors, machinery and equipment, finance, processing, manufacturing and indirectly even tourism. Agriculturally related jobs reached 29% of all private sectors in Adams County. Yet how many farms do we need to keep all these other businesses running as well? This is the critical mass that no one knows the answer to, but if there is a loss to farmland a variety of suppliers, producers and manufacturers see a negative impact on their businesses.

The American Farmland Trust states that "farmland provides more back in local taxes than it requires in public services." Overall our farmlands have provided us with benefits most of us do not see on our day to day basis yet the profit is all around us.

Here are some facts from Dr. Kelsey’s presentation:

  • The majority of farms have annual sales under $2.5K yet some do reach numbers from $100K-500K.
  • The majority of farms (42%) comprise 10 to 49 acres of land and 32% comprise 50 to 179 acres.
  • The main types of farms (by number) are crops (756), followed by beef cattle (223), fruit (149), apples (134) and poultry-layers (124).
  • In 2007 PA had $5.8 billion in farm production, providing 123,884+ jobs, with Adams County at $217 million.
  • Adams County Value of Sales is mainly in poultry (39%), fruits (21%) and dairy (15%).
  • 50% of Adams County is farmland, 27% of PA is farmland.

The breakfast also covered a variety of subjects and concerns including immigration policy, the agricultural budget at local and state levels, what is and should be considered clean and green land as well as the digital infrastructure in PA versus MD.

PDF, 1.1 MB

A link to the presentation given by Tim Kelsey during the Ag Issues Breakfast.