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Agriculture, The Industry That Keeps Us Moving Forward

What does agriculture mean to you? Does it spark emotion, or is it just a term you hear? Every day, we depend on what the agriculture industry has to offer. Whether it is the food we eat or the clothes we wear, we have agriculture to thank. We often hear the statistics concerning population totals as we approach 2050. By 2050, there will be an expected population of 9.2 billion people. To feed the growing population, farmers will need to produce 60-70% more food than current (Silva, 2018). Agriculture plays an integral part in our lives whether we realize it or not.

Jobs

The agriculture industry not only supplies us with critical resources, but is also a large part of U.S. employment. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 22.2 million full and part-time jobs were related to the agricultural and food sectors, which equates to 10.9 percent of total U.S. employment (Kassel & Martin, 2020). When you break down these numbers even more, that is one in 12 Americans that are involved in the agriculture industry. These jobs range from food service, farming, natural resources, food and beverage manufacturing, textiles, and food and beverage stores. The largest percentage of the food and beverage manufacturing employees fall within the meat and poultry industry. Without agriculture, there would be many Americans left without work and all of us without essential things needed for our daily lives!

Economic Value

The agriculture industry is not only a crucial part of U.S. employment, but is also among some of the most valuable contributors to our economy. In 2019, agriculture, food, and related industries contributed $1.109 trillion to the United States’ gross domestic product. Farms contributed $136.1 billion of this sum, making it 0.6 percent of GDP (Kassel & Martin, 2020). This may not seem like a lot, but many other industries rely on agriculture, but are not accounted for in these numbers. Different sectors include food and beverage manufacturing, food and beverage stores, food services, eating and drinking places, textiles, apparel, leather products, and forestry and fishing. So if you take agriculture out of the economic equation, many other sectors are coming down with it. Not only does agriculture affect the overall United States’ economy but is a lifeline to many rural communities as well. When you look at rural economies such as many of the Midwestern states, the majority of counties rely on agriculture. Statistics from 2017 show that nearly 20 percent of all rural counties and 6 percent of the rural population are farming-dependent (Kassel, 2018). These individuals rely on agriculture to sustain their families. In turn, we rely on them. It is both a give-and-take situation.

Simply put, our nation’s economy and job market are greatly supported by the agriculture industry. Without it, job opportunities would be limited and our economy would be without a vital lifeline.

References:

Kassel, K. (2018, October 9). Rural economies depend on different industries. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=58290

Kassel, K., & Martin, A. (2020, December 16). Ag and Food Sectors and the Economy. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service . https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/ag-and-food-sectors-and-the-economy/#:~:text=Agriculture%2C%20food%2C%20and%20related%20industries,about%200.6%20percent%20of%20GDP.

Silva, G. (2018, December 3). Feeding the world in 2050 and beyond – Part 1: Productivity challenges. Michigan State Univeristy Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/feeding-the-world-in-2050-and-beyond-part-1#:~:text=The%20current%20global%20population%20is,in%202050%20(Fig%201).&text=The%20general%20consensus%20is%20that,takes%20into%20account%20several%20factors.

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