Kathy Bain Farrell
BARBARA A. SCANLON
Jillian E.A. Siqueland
Ian Martins Phipps
Sandra L. Bliven
Mary Jane DiMaio Caraway
Crop sales generated 82 percent of Rhode Island's total farm income in 1999. More than three-fifths of all farm income came from sales of greenhouse and nursery products. Of the few crops raised in the state, hay, sweet corn, and potatoes are the most valuable. Fruits, particularly apples, are also grown. The principal livestock products are milk and eggs. Rhode Island's small amount of agricultural land ranks the state near the bottom in comparison to other states in the value of its farm output. Only Alaska produces less.
Fishing has been a significant activity in Rhode Island since the colonial period. In recent years, lobster has been the most important commercial landing, representing one-quarter of the value of the state's total catch. Other important catches are squid, representing one-fifth of the total catch value, and quahogs, which are a type of clam. Finfishes of commercial importance include mackerel, goosefish, flounder, silver hake, butterfish, herring, scups, and skates. Freshwater fishes caught for recreation include black bass, yellow perch, white perch, and brook, rainbow, and brown trout.
The distribution of manufacturing plants in the state still reflects the early patterns of industrial development. Because of Rhode Island's early industrialization at a time when industry depended on waterpower, the older industrial areas in Rhode Island lie along the Blackstone, Pawtucket, and Pawtuxet rivers. Woonsocket, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Providence, Cranston, and Warwick are the major manufacturing centers.
The manufacture of jewelry and silverware is one of Rhode Island's leading industries. The state is an important center for the production of both costume and precious jewelry and is also the home of many of America's leading silversmiths. Textile manufacturing, for years the state's leading economic activity, declined in the second half of the 20th century but still contributes substantially to the state's economy. Much of the fine lace produced in the United States is made in Rhode Island. Many yarns, woolens, worsteds, synthetic fabrics, knitted goods, and other high-quality textiles are also produced. Other industries that contribute substantially to Rhode Island's economy are those making fabricated metal components, particularly structural metal used in buildings; industries producing electrical equipment, especially that used in lighting and wiring; makers of machinery and parts for other industries; manufacturers of instruments, such as surgical appliances and navigation equipment; manufacturers of plastic goods; printers and publishers; industries forging primary metals such as steel and aluminum; and firms that process food.
All the electricity generated in Rhode Island comes from steam-driven power plants fueled by oil or natural gas. The Narragansett Electric Company is responsible for about four-fifths of the electricity which is produced in the state.