Horticulture Survey Results Released for Md.

Highlights Jobs, Tenure of Family Businesses, Increase in Local Sales and Production

ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 23, 2010) – The results of the most comprehensive survey of the Maryland horticulture industry to date reveal an industry with nearly $2 billion in gross receipts occupying 20,900 acres, including 19 million square feet of greenhouse space, and employing more than 18,500 people with wages totaling $451 million. Supporting the movement toward “buying locally,” the survey also indicated a shift toward the purchase of plants from Maryland nurseries rather than importation of plant material from other states and countries. The statistical profile and economic survey, which queried 1,140 licensed nursery operations for 2007 business information with a 72 percent response rate, was officially released on January 6 at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show in Baltimore. The last industry survey was conducted in 2003.

“The results of this survey show that horticulture is a strong, dynamic and growing agricultural industry with a long history in Maryland that continues to be very important to our State’s economy, employment and land base,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Those making policy, lending, land use and other business choices can use this information to make informed decisions that ensure a smart, green and growing future for Maryland.

On Wednesday, I visited the MANTS show in Baltimore with Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting. Nursery growers told us how they were adapting to changes in the economy and how important buying locally is to their bottom line. This survey showed that in 2007 they were ahead of the current movement.”

"I believe these results underscore the importance of Maryland's collective allied horticulture businesses and what they mean to the State," said Vanessa Finney, Executive Director of the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association.

While Central Maryland led the State in the value of horticulture sales and services ($740.5 million), the horticulture industry is important to all geographic regions. Regionally, Southern Maryland ($196.7 million), the Upper Eastern Shore ($120.2 million), Lower Eastern Shore ($42.9 million) and Western Maryland ($8.9 million) followed in value of sales and services.

The 2007 survey identified a shift by Maryland horticulture businesses toward sourcing locally-grown plant material rather than importing from other states or countries, creating greater economic impact and a smaller environmental footprint by the industry. About 33 percent of the Maryland nursery crop was grown from start to finish and sold directly from the farm. Approximately 37 percent of the crop was purchased directly from another Maryland nursery, an increase of 72 percent from the 2003 survey. Further supporting this shift, the 306 nurseries that reported shipping plant material said most was shipped within the state with the remainder being sent primarily to the Eastern or Southern United States.

Regarding tenure of nursery operations, the survey found that close to 75 percent of the nursery operations are family owned and operated. The average Maryland nursery has been in business for more than 25 years with the oldest family operation being 150 years old.

Additional highlights from the 2007 statistical profile include:

-- Gross receipts exceeded $1.96 billion in 2007 and were expected to top $2.05 billion in 2008
--- Retail sales accounted for 49%
--- Landscape installation and maintenance accounted for 27%
--- Wholesale sales accounted for 22%
--- Other categories accounted for 2% ($35.9 million)
--- Total gross sales increased 88% compared to the 2003 survey due to an increase in chain store outlets as well as methodological advances that more accurately accounted for sales

-- Herbaceous perennials topped product sales
--- Herbaceous perennials 31% - $496.8 million
--- Woody plants 22% - $352.5 million
--- Annuals 18% - $288.4 million
--- Specialty greenhouse products 6% - $96.1 million
--- Aquatics 5% - $80.1 million
--- Christmas trees 8% - $128.2 million
--- Other products 10% - $160.3 million

-- Over 18,500 people were employed by the industry
--- 59% are employed for over 150 days
--- Total wages paid were $451 million
--- Average wage rate for laborers was $10.39/hour - well above federal minimum wage
--- 3,143 workers were reported as foreign or domestic migrant workers

-- Factors limiting growth:
--- Financial resources/economy
--- Labor
--- Competition

The survey, which was conducted by the Maryland office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association is the first survey of the industry since 2003. Both the 2003 and the 2007 reports are available online at http://mnlaonline.com/ .

Source: Maryland Dept. of Agriculture

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