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Food and Ag Generate $8.6 Trillion for U.S. Economy

New report released on National Ag Day highlights farm-to-fork contributions
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
National Ag Day
The annual "Feeding the Economy" report supported by 24 industry groups was released on National Ag Day.

As the spotlight has shone brighter on the supply chain over the past few years, those in the agriculture industry have gotten more recognition for their work in keeping the flow of foods going to consumers in the United States and around the world. That recognition amps up on March 21, which is National Ag Day.

Several organizations are marking the occasion by sharing results of the seventh annual “Feeding the Economy ” report. The study was supported by 24 industry groups, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), FMI – The Food Industry Association and National Grocers Association, among many other food and ag trade associations.

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This year’s report reflects both the resilience and challenges within the agricultural engine that drives the food supply chain and much of the economy. In fact, the latest study shows that food and ag businesses and their suppliers contribute more than $8.6 trillion to the domestic economy, a 21.8% gain over the pre-pandemic year of 2019. The industry also propels $202.2 billion in imports to help lift the economy.

From a human capital standpoint – another pillar of economic stability – the farm-to-fork analysis revealed that agriculture supports more nearly 23 million jobs in the United States and provides $927 billion in wages. Beyond purely agricultural operations, the industry is a foundation for work within food manufacturing and processing, representing millions of additional jobs.  

As the report points out, the industry has weathered several obstacles over the past year, including ongoing pandemic-related supply chain glitches, high inflation, labor shortages, war in Ukraine and extreme weather events. That said, all 50 states displayed increased economic output, with the highest gains coming from Hawaii, North Dakota, New York, Nevada and Florida. Moreover, farmers, growers, ranchers and others in agribusiness are becoming more efficient, producing more on less land, according to the study.  

“'Feeding the Economy' in concert with National Ag Day celebrates the collective impact that everyone working to grow, process and produce our food has on the economy. State departments of agriculture recognize that a thriving U.S. agricultural industry feeds our U.S. economy and nourishes the world through international trade. We’re proud that today’s report proves our industry’s continued strength across the states and around the globe,” said Ted McKinney, CEO of NASDA.

Added FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin: “FMI is proud to sponsor this research to help shed light on U.S. food and agriculture’s $8.6 trillion contribution to the American economy, which has increased nearly 22% since 2019.” 

Sarasin reaffirmed consumers’ growing awareness and appreciation of those who provide the basic necessities of food for them and their families. “Americans say that farmers (53%) and primary food stores (46%) are on their side when it comes to helping them stay healthy, according to our most recent national survey among grocery shoppers,” she remarked. “The food supply chain remains committed to doing everything it can to keep food price volatility at bay. We all play a role in improving food access and affordability across this nation, and this research conveys the important role that food retailers, food makers and agriculture play in our nation’s economic prosperity to both policymakers and consumers.” 

President Joe Biden also weighed in on on National Ag Day this year. “On National Agriculture Day, we celebrate all the farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, fishers, foresters, and other agricultural workers who do so much to make our Nation strong, fuel our economy, and steward our lands. America owes them,” he said in a statement released by the White House, which also expressed support for fair competition and workers’ rights across the sector.

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