Agriculture feeds the economy

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the food and agriculture industries continue to add jobs, provide safe food and feed the U.S. economy in the face of global supply chain challenges and more. That’s the finding of the 2022 Feeding the Economy report, a nationwide economic impact study commissioned by 30 food and agri­culture groups.

The farm-to-fork economic analysis reveals how these sectors influence the local and broader U.S. economies. Together, America’s food and agriculture industries are responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting nearly 21.5 million jobs or more than 14% of U.S. employment.

This economic impact starts from the ground up—literally—in the rich soil of America’s farms and ranches, which cover two out of every five acres across the U.S.

Meanwhile, millions of food scientists, production workers, logistics experts, truck drivers and engineers work in more than 200,000 food manufacturing, pro­cessing and storage facilities to keep supply chains resilient and fresh, safe food readily available worldwide.

The journey may conclude at one of the nation’s more than 1 million restau­rant locations or make its way from one of America’s more than 100,000 retail grocers to homes and gatherings.

The report’s findings show that 7% of the nation’s economy and 29% of Amer­ican jobs are linked to food and agriculture, either directly or indirectly. These sectors also exported $182.91 billion worth of goods, helping the U.S. maintain its position as a leading player in global agriculture. In 2021, these industries contributed a total of $3.01 trillion to the U.S. economy.

In addition to providing insights on nationwide impact, the report breaks down the impact by state and congressional district. Key findings include:

  • Total jobs: 43,464,211
  • Total wages: $2.3 trillion
  • Total taxes: $718.15 billion
  • Exports: $182.91 billion
  • Total food and industry economic impact: $7.43 trillion

To measure the total economic impact of the sectors, the analysis also includes the direct and indirect economic activity surrounding these industries, both up­stream and downstream. 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 a 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.

This year’s report can be found at www.feedingtheeconomy.com.

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Michael elected as new MFA director for District 2

The MFA Incorporated Board of Directors has a new member and three re­turning members after district meetings and elections were held in March.

Tanner Michael of Unionville, Mo., was elected to represent District 2. Michael raises 1,200 acres of row crops and 100 head of feeder calves on his family farm. He replaces outgoing director Tom Dent of Humeston, Iowa, whose term ended in March.

“MFA has such a rich history, going back more than 100 years now, and I want to be part of that,” Michael said during the March 14 district meeting where the election was held. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the ag industry, but I think MFA is on the right track and its future looks bright. I didn’t run for the board with any agenda. I just want to help continue MFA’s success.”

Re-elected to their positions on the MFA board were Jim Novinger of Kirksville, Mo., District 3; Steve Stumpe of Leslie, Mo., District 10; and Doyle Oehl of Jackson, Mo., District 14. Members of the corporate board are eligible to serve three-year terms and are limited to four consecutive terms.

In addition to elections, the meetings in each of MFA’s 14 districts gave farmer-owners a chance to learn about the cooperative’s financial progress, hear from management and operating divisions and get updated on highlights from their respective regions. 14 districts gave farmer-owners a chance to learn about the cooperative’s financial progress, hear from management and operating divisions and get updated on highlights from their respective regions.

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MU establishes Rural and Farm Finance Policy Analysis Center

The University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) has formed a new Rural and Farm Finance Policy Analysis Center (RaFF). The center will study how policies and agricultural markets affect farm and rural finances by U.S. region.

RaFF will work closely with the College’s Food and Agricul­tural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), which provides objec­tive policy and market analysis at the national level. By taking a regional approach to its analysis, however, RaFF will assess financial conditions with detail not available from a national view. A region’s climate, available market opportunities, tech­nology adoption and other factors can shape how it weathers challenges and responds to opportunities.

RaFF will make its unbiased regional analysis available to Congress, which can use the information to better understand how policies and markets affect rural people and communities.

One project the center will undertake involves developing forward-looking farm income estimates by state, said Sarah Low, director of RaFF and associate professor of regional eco­nomics in MU’s Division of Applied Social Sciences. The center will also create and disseminate briefings throughout the year, highlighting timely rural or agricultural issues. The first briefing focuses on agriculture’s contribution to the rural economy.

“We are not developing policies or proposals,” Low said. “We are providing unbiased analysis for policymakers. This will hopefully help them better understand what is happening in rural and farm communities.”

Along with Low, the center has a collection of contributors who will dedicate part of their time to the center. She said these individuals are passionate about modeling as well as farm and rural communities.

The center has been in the works for several years, Low said. FAPRI identified a need to expand its national analysis and track how policies and markets affect regions across the U.S.

“We’re looking to build our network of collaborators and ideas for the issue briefings series,” Low said. “I love policy and helping rural communities. That is where my passion truly lies.”

For more information about the Rural and Farm Finance Poli­cy Analysis Center, visit online at ruralandfarmfinance.com.

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