Wisconsin's farms and agricultural businesses generate $88.3 billion in economic activity and 413,500 jobs, based on data for 2012, according to a new study from University of Wisconsin-Extension and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The study is a follow-up to one done five years ago using 2007 data by Steven Deller, Extension Community Development Specialist and Professor in the UW-Madison agricultural and applied economics department. .
"Agriculture remains an important part of the Wisconsin economy," said Deller. "Even in the most urban parts of the state, agriculture's contribution is notable."
Deller found that agriculture has risen in importance for the Wisconsin economy, despite the combined effects of the drought of 2012 and the Great Recession. It generated $29 billion more economic activity in 2012 than in 2007 and an additional 59,509 jobs. In 2012 it accounted for 11.9% of the state's overall employment (up from 10% in 2007), 10.9% of labor income, 10.9% of total income, and 16.1% of industrial sales.
Dairy remains a major Wisconsin industry, with growing strength in dried-condensed-evaporated milk and butter supplies. Dairy farming and dairy processing contribute 78,900 jobs, $3.9 billion to labor income, $7.2 billion to total income, and $43.4 billion to industrial sales.
About one in nine people working in Wisconsin hold a job related to agriculture, the new study indicates. They include farmers, their employees and those providing them with goods and services—veterinarians, crop and livestock consultants, feed and fuel suppliers, equipment dealers and lenders—as well as those employed in equipment manufacturing and food processing.
"When we think of agriculture, we must move beyond focusing within farm gate and consider food processing as an important part of the Wisconsin economic cluster," Deller said.
It's also important to look beyond dairying, he adds. "Although one may traditionally think of Wisconsin as the 'Dairy State,' the truth is that agriculture is diverse and is likely becoming more diversified across the state. Other parts of Wisconsin agriculture such as the beef industry, vegetables, breweries and more specialized activities like hops, grapes, and wineries are growing in size and importance."
The full report "Contribution of Agriculture to the Wisconsin Economy: Updated for 2012" is online and can be found at http://wp.aae.wisc.edu/wfp/contribution-of-agriculture-to-the-wisconsin-economy/.