Feeding the economy

The food and agriculture industries not only play a vital role in feeding Americans but also in feeding and growing the nation’s economy.

That fact was put into figures through a nationwide economic impact study released in November. The research found that more than one-fifth (or 20.4 percent) of the nation’s economy is linked, directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors, and more than one-fourth of all American jobs (28 percent) are similarly connected.

The extensive farm-to-fork economic analysis quantified the impact of the jobs, wages, taxes and exports the agricultural and food industries make possible. Twenty-two food and agriculture organizations commissioned this research. Among the most important findings were:   

  • Total jobs: 43,311,057
  • Total wages: $1.9 trillion
  • Total taxes: $894.13 billion
  • Exports: $146.32 billion
  • Total food and industry economic impact: $6.7 trillion

To measure the total economic impact of the sectors, the analysis also includes the indirect and induced economic activity surrounding these industries, which captures upstream and downstream activity. For example, when a farm equipment retailer hires new employees because farmers are buying more tractors, experts consider the new salaries an indirect impact. Similarly, when that new retail associate spends her paycheck, an induced economic impact occurs. Together, these have a multiplier effect on the already formidable direct impact of food and agriculture.

“These numbers tell an essential story, reminding us that food and agriculture remain absolutely central to our nation’s well-being. We not only produce three square meals a day for most Americans, that same work supports one in four American jobs,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, one of the commissioning groups. “Policymakers should keep this data in mind as they consider changes to tax and trade issues that might affect the food and agriculture sectors.”

The complete report is online at FeedingTheEconomy.com.

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