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State’s farming industry reaps $3.5B

By Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register (9/28/10)

  OCTOBER 4, 2010 --

Connecticut is getting plenty of green from its agricultural sector — $3.5 billion, a University of Connecticut study released Monday, September 27, has determined.

The study also found that agricultural businesses provide more than 20,000 jobs statewide.

The findings mark the first time in the state’s history that a comprehensive assessment of the impact agriculture has on the economy has been done, according to UConn and state officials, who unveiled the study at the Cecarelli Farm on Old Post Road.

“This is bigger than had been expected,” said Rigoberto Lopez, a UConn professor who wrote the study and is head of the school’s department of agricultural and resource economics. “Numbers and data are important because they help shape state and federal economic policy.”

The study also found that for every dollar generated by the state’s agricultural businesses, another dollar’s worth of economic activity is created statewide. State farmers produce vegetables, beef, fruit and dairy products.

U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, said the study’s results offer further evidence to Connecticut residents and federal lawmakers from other parts of the country that the state has a viable agricultural economy.

“There is a view that we don’t do much agriculture around here,” DeLauro said.

Data from the study will help DeLauro make a case for the state getting its fair share of money from the 2011 federal agricultural appropriations bill, she said. DeLauro said that while the bill has made some progress, significant action toward passing it won’t be taken until after the November elections.

Connecticut Agricultural Commissioner Phillip Prelli called the state’s farming sector “a real economic generator.”

“It’s sometimes easy to forget that every farmer is also a businessman,” Prelli said.

State residents are showing increasing interest in locally grown food, said the farmers who attended the press conference.

“When there was that salmonella scare with eggs in the supermarkets, my chickens couldn’t lay eggs fast enough to keep up with the demand,” said James Zeoli, Orange’s first selectman, who also operates a farm.

Kimberly Brockett, controller at Bishop’s Farms and Orchards in Guilford, said many Connecticut farms see the value in what is known as “agritainment,” which involves using what goes on at farms as a form of entertainment for tourists.

“That’s the buzzword in agriculture right now and at Bishop’s we try to make it an educational experience as well,” she said.


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