Agriculture/agribusiness still top industry in North Carolina

by | Jun 15, 2009



Agriculture/agribusiness continues to be North Carolina’s leading industry, according to the latest economic impact analysis by N.C. State University economist Mike Walden.

His report was released June 11 at the N.C. Agribusiness Council’s legislative luncheon, where I was the guest speaker.

The ag industry contributed $70.1 billion to the state’s economy and employed 700,000 people in 2007, Dr. Walden’s analysis said. Ag accounted for almost one-fifth of the state’s $399 billion gross state product and 17 percent of North Carolina’s 4 million employees. The 2007 figures are the most recent available.

To put ag’s economic importance in perspective, the state’s second-leading industry — the military — contributes about $23 billion to the economy, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

The new ag figure is $700 million less than the previous total, mainly due to declines in the natural fiber and forestry sectors. However, total income from agriculture/food industries rose from $56.9 billion to $57.4 billion.

Here’s a breakdown of the impact of various sectors of agriculture/agribusiness in North Carolina:


  • Farming: $13.5 billion
  • Manufacturing: $22.3 billion
  • Wholesaling: $6 billion
  • Retailing: $15.6 billion
  • Total: $57.4 billion


  • Manufacturing: $2.6 billion
  • Wholesaling: $800 million
  • Retailing: $2.8 billion
  • Total: $6.2 billion


  • Farming: $800 million
  • Manufacturing: $5.7 billion
  • Total: $6.5 billion

Agriculture/agribusiness total: $70.1 billion