The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture results are out, and it is clear that here in Maryland, we have a little bit of everything. Although our state is small, the geography is diverse, providing suitable environments for a variety of agricultural commodities. From the Atlantic shore, to mountainous terrain, and from a diversity of livestock to an array of crops, Maryland truly is America in miniature.
In the Free State, about 69 percent of land in farms is cropland. We have 435,646 acres of corn for grain, 1,936 acres of oats for grain, 475,615 acres of soybeans for beans, and 210,354 acres of wheat for grain. In fact, 31.5 percent of the total market value of agriculture products sold comes from grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas. We also have almost every fruit and vegetable in the Census. The sandy environment near the shoreline is conducive to growing watermelons, of which we have 3,278 acres; and, the higher altitudes provide opportunities for producing grapes and peaches, of which we have 681 acres and 999 acres respectively.
Furthermore, we have over 4,000 acres devoted to growing snap beans, and over 2,000 acres each devoted to growing green lima beans and green peas. We also have almost 2,000 acres of apples, as well as of cucumbers and pickles. To top it off, we even have a prevalence of nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod, which make up 9% of the total value of agriculture products sold.
In addition to crops, the diversity of animals in Maryland agriculture contributes to our mini America. We have horses and ponies, cattle and calves, and hogs and pigs, but poultry makes the biggest statement. We rank eighth in the nation for the number of broilers sold at 304.7 million, and 40.6 percent of the market value of Maryland agriculture products sold comes from poultry and eggs.
Maryland, like the nation as a whole, exhibits a diversity of agricultural practices to complement the variety of products. For example, we have 91 farms that in 2012 produced almost $12 million in organic products, up about 6.4 million since 2007. Frederick County alone accounts for 20% of those farms. In addition, 539 farms market products directly to retail outlets. We also have 416 farms with renewable energy producing systems. The top three systems are solar panels, geoexchange systems, and biodiesel.
As you can see, we really do have a taste of everything here in Maryland, so our nickname, America in miniature, is quite fitting.