Land Use Issues in Delaware Agriculture

Duke, Joshua M.
Mackenzie, John
Ilvento, Thomas W.
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Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.
Can Delaware’s agriculture coexist (and prosper) in the face of competing land uses over the next twenty years? We believe that maintaining Delaware’s agriculture as a viable land-use alternative depends on the success in addressing three critical challenges. First, will residential, commercial, and industrial land uses be forced to bear the full costs that their land-use decisions visit on Delaware agriculture? Alternatively, will agriculture be fully compensated for its contribution to Delaware’s economy and quality of life? An associated, second challenge, is whether state, county, and local governments will institute incentive-based policies to achieve socially desirable land-use outcomes? It is particularly important that there exist policies to protect and to promote diverse land uses within all three counties. Finally, will spatial land-use patterns evolve, which ensure that agriculture maintains the critical masses necessary for the industry’s economic viability and which insulate producers from the complaints and threats of nonagricultural neighbors? This paper expands on these three challenges and then reviews data on trends in agricultural land use to draw conclusions.