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Lancaster Leads the Way

Lancaster County ranks 1st in the US in layers and 2nd in pullets as well as 3rd in corn for silage and 4th in poultry and eggs (out of 3,079 counties in the US)

With PA, Lancaster County leads the Commonwealth in many agriculture categories including:

  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Milk from cows
  • Poultry and eggs
  • Hogs and pigs
  • Sheep and goats
  • Corn for grain and silage

Lancaster County also leads the Commonwealth in two important parts of the agriculture distribution chain:

  • Food processing which includes industries which process and package eggs, milk, iced tea, ice cream, hot dogs, cookies and crackers, candy, and many food products employs over 5,000 workers, which is more than 2 times more concentrated than the national average.
  • Forest and wood products with a high concentration of cabinetmakers employs more than 7,800 workers, which is nearly 3 times the national average.

As an industry cluster, the agriculture and food industry is a major contributor to the regional economy:

  • 23,841 job with is 8% of the total workforce of the county
  • Earning of $1,088,057,016 or 8% of all earnings
  • Sales of $6,699,582,770 or 16% of all sales in the region
  • High productivity

Contributor to the Regional Economy

However, if we look at the multiplier effect, which includes the effect of the supply and distribution chains on these measures, the result is even more significant:

  • 36,399 jobs which is 12% of the total workforce in the county (compared to 6.75% for PA)
  • Earnings of $1,609,137,975 or 12% of all earnings
  • Sales of $8,824,105,093 or 21% of all sales in the region (compared to 8.42% for PA)

Survey Summary of the Supply and Distribution Chain of Dairy Products in Lancaster County, PA

This report will become a part of a series of similar reports on the poultry, swine, vegetable, and horticulture industries in Lancaster County. The council plans to use the data to create an Agriculture Economic Development Plan that will guide its priorities for the next 5 – 10 years.

Census of Agriculture

According to the 2012 US Census of Agriculture, the value of milk from cows produced in Lancaster County was $425,171,000:

  • Milk is roughly 28.8% of all farm product ($1,474,954) in Lancaster County
  • Lancaster County ranks 1st in PA and 8th in the US in milk production
  • Lancaster County alone produces 21.6% of all PA production (1,966,892,000)
  • There are 1,776 farms involved in dairy farming in the county compared to 7,038 farms in PA
  • The 1,776 dairy farms in Lancaster County are 31.4% of all farms in Lancaster County (5,657)

Input-Output

Farm machinery, custom operators, veterinary series, construction and real estate, and warehousing are categories in the top 25 of expenditures and with more than 33% or more purchased in the region while drugs, medical supplies, pesticide, and soybean processing are also in the top 25 but have less than 10% purchased in the region.

The Combined Power of Agriculture and Tourism

Lancaster County inspires nostalgia for American’s rich agricultural heritage. According to the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau, roughly half of tourism revenues in Lancaster County are related to agriculture. The annual value of tourism in the county is estimated at $1.19 billion, with around $58 million attributed to agriculture. Three of the top six reasons people cite for visiting the area are the Amish, food and drink, and the area’s history. Additional research would help further define the role of agriculture and tourism

Local residents also appreciate and support places that celebrate agriculture. The Landis Valley Museum, which features Pennsylvania Dutch agriculture history; the Turkey Hill Experience, which features the history of the dairy industry in the region; and Family Farm Days at Oregon Dairy, which open a thriving dairy farm to the public, are examples of places and events that draw locals and tourists alike.

A National Leader in Agriculture

To protect its agricultural character and economic base, the Lancaster County Agricultural Preservation Board and Lancaster Farmland Trust have worked in concert to preserve farmland. To do this, Lancaster County has strategically leveraged investments of its own local resources with state and other available farmland preservation funds. In total, Lancaster County has invested $113 million of its own funds, which have been nearly matched by more than $90 million in state funds and $10 million in federal funds. In addition, the Lancaster Farmland Trust has invested nearly $13 million of private funds in farmland preservation.

In 2013, Lancaster County became the first county in the nation to reach 100,000 acres in farmland preservation.

Smart Farms – Managing Agricultural Landscapes for Enhanced Ecosystem Services

Lancaster Farmland Trust’s Smart Farms program is an agricultural and environmentally conscious program that assists local producers in managing their operations sustainably. With a host of soil and water conservation practices available to farms, Lancaster Farmland Trust staff helps tailor a selection of working land practices with the objective of balancing farm profitability with environmental impacts.

Working with its partners in the agricultural community, Smart Farms offers free on-farm consultation, with experts in agricultural and environmental engineering. Participating farmers can receive expert input on optimizing soil fertility and improving operations. The program’s goal is to prevent productive soils from degradation and exhaustion. This work will ensure that Lancaster County can continue to provide fresh food and fiber to residents of the county and beyond.

Most recently, the program has begun focusing on optimizing the benefits of a more complete set of farmland ecosystem services.

Market value is only a small portion of the total value agricultural lands provide through pollination, carbon sequestration, aesthetic value and other services. The Lancaster Farmland Trust is enhancing these ecosystem service values through their Smart Farms program.