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Agriculture's huge economic importance

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Agriculture accounts for more than 22 cents of every dollar generated in Arkansas' economy, according to a University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture publication.

"Anyway you look at it, agriculture is 20 percent of Arkansas' economy, and that's huge," said H.L. Goodwin, UA agricultural economist. "We wanted to quantify the economic importance of agriculture on the state's economy and publish a good description of it that was accessible and useful to business people, policymakers and the general public."

Impact of the Agricultural Sector on the Arkansas Economy is a research report available from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

"The report looks at the direct contributions of agricultural production and processing for plant crops, livestock and forestry, as well as agriculture-related industries," Goodwin said.

"We found agriculture contributed 12.3 percent of the gross state product of $64.8 billion and was responsible for one in five jobs in the state.

"These factors mean agriculture is more important to economic activity in Arkansas than in any other state in the southeastern United States," he said.

The 40-page report includes narrative and graphic data to support its conclusions. Other points it makes include:

• Agriculture accounts for more than 327,000 jobs; poultry production and processing alone provide 16 percent of the state's agricultural jobs;

• Agriculture pays $8.7 billion in wages, 15 percent of the state's total payroll;

• The plant crop sector creates $4.5 billion in value, more than 101,500 jobs and $2.6 billion in wages.

• The livestock sector generates $4.1 billion, more than 118,600 jobs and $2.9 billion in wages; and

• Forestry generates $4.8 billion, more than 98,700 jobs and $3 billion in wages.

The total impact of agriculture on the Arkansas economy has remained relatively constant over the past several years, despite depressed commodity prices and market imbalances in supply and demand, according to the publication.

"This publication will be important to anyone who wants to understand the importance of agriculture on Arkansas's economy," Goodwin said.

Impact of the Agricultural Sector on the Arkansas Economy

is available free from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. Call 479–575–5670 or write to Communications Services, University of Arkansas AGRI 113, Fayetteville, AR 72701 and request Research Report 969. It can also be downloaded from the Web in pdf format (

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