Walden releases new ag numbers

by | May 25, 2021

N.C. State University economist Mike Walden recently released the latest agriculture and agribusiness numbers and happily agriculture and agribusiness continue to grow. The latest reflect a $3.2 billion increase in economic impact to $95.9 billion.

Today’s Topic
  • N.C. State Economist Mike Walden recently released his latest economic impact numbers for agriculture and agribusiness, and I am happy to say he had very good news for the industry. Agriculture and agribusiness continue to grow, topping out at $95.9 billion.
  • That is up $3.2 billion from the 2019 numbers and it is getting ever so close to the $100 billion goal I have talked about for the industry. I know we will soon reach that milestone, and I look forward to setting a new and bigger goal.
  • I look forward to Dr. Walden’s report because we have continued to see growth in the industry every year since I took office. In 2005, the economic impact of agriculture and agribusiness was $59 billion.
  • Despite some challenging economic times coupled with low commodity prices, devastating disasters and trade issues, we have seen an over $36 billion increase in the industry.
  • It really reinforces my belief that this is an industry with a bright future. Food and fiber production will always be essential. And, as our population grows, so does the market for food, housing and other amenities.
  • If you dive into the numbers a bit deeper, the total economic impact breaks down into $81.7 billion attributed to agriculture and food industry; $4.4 billion in production of natural fiber and $9.8 billion in forestry production.
  • As Dr. Walden’s latest numbers show, this is an industry that employs 789,000 people or roughly 17.5 percent of our workforce. It is an economic driver that fuels rural North Carolina and remains our No. 1 industry.
  • And, we are continuing to steer this industry towards growth.
  • There’s been considerable discussion about using COVID money to help expand broadband access to our rural communities. This would significantly benefit farmers, agribusiness owners and our rural communities.
  • The increased protein production we are seeing as a result of the IMPEC meat and seafood processing grants will help create new markets for locally produced and sourced proteins.
  • And we continue to focus on recruiting and developing more food manufacturing opportunities in the state.
  • Additionally, agriculture research on many fronts is focused on increasing yields, improving efficiency, fine-tuning production techniques and developing new crops and new plant varieties.
  • I am excited about the future of agriculture and am encouraged by the continued growth of this industry.