Study Reveals Food and Agriculture Impact on U.S. Economy

Food and agriculture industries and their suppliers contribute over $8.6 trillion – or nearly 20% – to the U.S. economy, almost one-fifth of total national output and a 22% increase since 2019, according to the seventh annual Feeding the Economy report.

This farm-to-fork analysis illustrates the food and agriculture sector’s impact on local and nationwide economic activity by providing data on jobs, wages, and economic output.

The data also underscored this sector’s resilience and reliability amid unprecedented global and domestic crises, including the commodity shock following the war in Ukraine and continued supply chain disruptions.

The Feeding the Economy food and agriculture sector economic impact study represents the contributions of a comprehensive combination of industries.

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“From the agriculture sector to food retail, wholesale, and product manufacturers – the entire food industry connects shoppers to essential products they need to keep their families healthy and nourished,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO of FMI – The Food Industry Association. “This year’s Feeding the Economy study continues to demonstrate the powerful economic impact of the food and agriculture sector on feeding America and growing the nation’s economy – responsibilities we all take very seriously.”

This year’s report shows the U.S. food and agriculture sector directly supports nearly 23 million jobs, provides $927 billion in wages, and is particularly vital to rural communities across America.

Notably, the 2023 report reveals that the manufacturing of agricultural products accounts for nearly one-fifth of total manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Overall, more than 46 million jobs are supported across the food and agriculture supply chain, increasing almost 2% since the 2019 report despite the economic challenges and disruptions associated with the global pandemic.

All 50 states displayed increased economic output in the 2023 report compared to the 2022 report, mainly reflecting a rebound in national economic activity. The most significant gains in total production were from Hawaii (31%), North Dakota (26%), New York (23%), Nevada (22%), and Florida (21%).

Key findings from national data include:

  • Total Jobs: 46,283,917 (up 1.5% since the 2019 report)
  • Total Wages: $2.61 trillion (up 26.2% since the 2019 report)
  • Total Taxes: $947.93 billion (up 3.8% since the 2019 report)
  • Exports: $202.2 billion (up 24.4% since the 2019 report)

Total Food and Ag Industry Economic Impact: $8.6 trillion (up 21.8% since the 2019 report)

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.

“The food and agriculture sector continues to be robust, and independent grocery operators play a large part in that success, driving sales and jobs directly and indirectly connected to the industry,” explained Greg Ferrara, President and CEO of the National Grocers Association. “Independent grocers bring nutrition to the food insecure, support community institutions, and are on the front lines in times of crisis. In neighborhoods across America, urban and rural, independent operators herald vibrant communities – they are engines for economic growth.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 1948 and 2019, land use for agriculture decreased by 28% while land productivity grew nearly four times and labor productivity grew more than ten times. In fact, agriculture’s total factor productivity growth rate is among the highest of U.S. sectors.