May 25, 2023
Now that the number-crunching has abated a bit from the release of the Feeding the Economy report outlining the influence of food and the agricultural sector, a more thorough analysis is underway.
The 7th annual report, sponsored by two dozen food and ag groups, revealed that the entire agricultural sphere contributes over $8.6 trillion to America’s economy --- nearly a fifth of our total national output and representing a sizeable increase from previous reports underscoring the resiliency and reliability of the sector amid climate upsets as well as domestic and global crises.
The report cited “the rich soil of America’s farms and ranches --- more than two million of them from the heartland to the coasts --- representing two out of every five acres.”
While all 50 states displayed impressive economic contributions, the warm-weather Western states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico offered some golly-gee-whiz numbers.
The Golden State, producers of hundreds of different crop categories, was one of the most impressive with over $412.7 billion in direct output requiring well over half a million jobs to make it happen.
By the time all ancillary factors are added, the direct and indirect economic activity that captures both upstream and downstream industry events, combine to total a mega number of $1.07 trillion --- that’s trillion with a T.
Where California meets the adjoining state of Arizona and becomes the nation’s winter leafy vegetable capital, total economic output is less, but still in the multi-billions of dollars ($138.6 billion).
A 2022 Western Farm Press story on the subject reported: “Over the last decade, Arizona grape acreage has doubled to more than 1,500 acres with the number of bonded wine producers listed at 125."
According to a 2022 economic study by the National Association of American Wineries, “The Arizona wine industry generated $4.24 for the American economy in 2022. The broader economic impact flows throughout the state, generating business for firms seemingly unrelated to the wine industry. Real people, with real jobs, working in industries as varied as farming, banking, accounting, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, printing, and advertising depend on the wine industry for some of their livelihoods.”
The Arizona wine industry is a major magnet for tourists and tourism-driven expenses. Arizona’s “wine country” region generates 175,900 tourist visits and $59.71 million in annual tourism expenditures, benefiting local economies and tax bases.
On the other side of the Grand Canyon State, New Mexico represents a total food and ag industry economic impact of $49.2 billion. “Our state’s ag industry continues to show resiliency,” says New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witt. “When we sit down to eat a meal, it’s important to remember all the work it took to get that food from the farm to our plate.”
Of particular interest who grow and process grapes in some form, the Feeding the Economy report revealed numbers from New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center that the state’s grape and wine industry contributed to those numbers. The latest available data showed slightly under 400 grape farms growing on over 1,200 acres and generating approximately $876 million in total economic activity.
“The strength and growth highlighted in this year’s report reinforce that agriculture is evolving and innovating to meet the demands of the 21st century,” read the report.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the period of roughly 1950 through 2020, “While land use for agriculture decreased (by 28%), land productivity grew nearly four times meaning agriculture’s total factor productivity growth rate is among the highest of U.S. sectors.Agriculture reaches far beyond the farm gate and is foundational to America’s economy.”
Or to quote one of the two dozen survey sponsors, Chief Economist Roger Cryan of the American Farm Bureau Federation, “Agriculture is the foundation of our economy and our lives.This study reveals the numbers --- and maybe some of the spirit --- of this one indispensable sector.”
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