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Northeast Agriculture: The Overlooked Economic Engine

Enfield, Conn. — The agricultural, commercial fishing and forest products industries are key economic engines in the Northeast according to an economic impact report recently released by Farm Credit East, the largest lender to Northeast agriculture. 

The report found that the 64,570 farms and related businesses throughout the six-state region of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island produced an estimated $71 billion impact on state output in 2010 and resulted in 379,000 jobs on and off the farm. 

“Agriculture is a major economic engine in the Northeast and this means jobs, local food production and economic activity in hundreds of communities,” said Bill Lipinski, Farm Credit East CEO. “Agriculture has a bright future here in the Northeast and with appropriate state policies and community support will continue to enhance our Northeast economy.”

 From dairy farms to commercial fishing operations along the coast, to the fruit, vegetable, vineyard, timber, nursery and greenhouse operations in between—the Northeast agricultural industry is extremely diverse. Farm businesses create economic activity and jobs not only on the farm, but also through (1) farm services businesses which are upstream to farming and would include suppliers, repair, equipment, lenders, insurance, etc., and (2) processing activities which are downstream to farming and would include dairy processing plants, sawmills, wineries, etc. The following information highlights the agricultural impact on the six Northeastern states’ economies. 

  • New York State contributes a $38 billion impact on state economic output, with $15.6 billion being value-added activity. In addition, New York agriculture generates 196,200 jobs, both on and off the farm, statewide. Milk and cattle production accounts for 40 percent of the total agricultural output impact generating nearly 28,500 jobs.
  • Massachusetts agriculture and related processing activities is responsible for $13 billion in output, with $5.5 billion being value-added, which stays within the community. In addition, Massachusetts agriculture generates 68,110 jobs. Commercial fishing is the state’s largest sector, at $1.5 billion in output and more than 12,000 jobs, but the cranberry and greenhouse industries are also major economic contributors
  • New Jersey has a long history of farming and fishing as indicated by the approximately $11.5 billion impact on state economic output and 61,000 jobs generated statewide. Greenhouse and nursery production is the state’s largest sector with $919 million in output and 8,864 jobs generated
  • Connecticut contributed $4.6 billion in output and generated more than 26,700 jobs. Greenhouse and nursery production is the state’s largest sector generating $457 million in output and 4,782 jobs
  • The forest products industry is a major industry in New Hampshire with its impact of over $1 billion. Combined with other agriculture and related processing activities, the New Hampshire agriculture and forestry industry contributes $2.5 billion in output and 18,500 jobs statewide.
  • Commercial fishing dominates Rhode Island with $172 million in output and 2,400 jobs generated. As a whole, the Ocean State’s farming and fishing industries generated approximately $1.1 billion impact on state economic output and generated 7,500 jobs statewide.

This report titled Northeast Agriculture: The Overlooked Economic Engine was compiled by Farm Credit East based on information generated from an independent study completed by Dr. Rigoberto Lopez from the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the report was to illustrate the importance of agriculture and related industries to the Northeast economy. To view a full copy of the report contact your local Farm Credit East office or visit 


Farm Credit East extends more than $4.35 billion in loans and has 19 local offices in its six-state service area. In addition to loans and leases, the organization also offers a full range of agriculturally specific financial services for businesses related to farming, horticulture, forestry and commercial fishing. Farm Credit East is governed by a 15-person board of directors. For more information, go to

Robert A. Smith

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