• Local agriculture contributes to economy

    By Staff Reports -

    KNOXVILLE – The importance of agriculture to Tennessee accounts for 9 percent of the state’s economy and $57.6 billion in output. 

    A new report from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture reveals the economic impact of agriculture in Wilson and the state’s 94 other counties.

    For Wilson County in 2015, total direct agricultural output was estimated at $937.7 million. With multiplier effects, agricultural output had a total estimated economic impact of $1.3 billion. This means, for every dollar of direct output from agriculture, the total economic impact on the county’s economy is $1.34.

    There are 2,344 workers employed in Wilson County agriculture. With multiplier effects, an estimated 5,280 jobs are generated by county agriculture or one direct agricultural job leads to 2.25 jobs in Wilson County.

    Online reports for each of Tennessee’s 95 counties are available on an interactive map. In the reports, agriculture includes crop and livestock production; food and fiber processing such as ice cream plants and textile mills; farm inputs such as fertilizer plants and feed mills; and forestry-based products, such as sawmills and paper mills. Reports include the multiplier effect, which is the impact of agriculture on the non-agricultural part of the economy. 

    Examples of the multiplier effect include farmers and other agricultural businesses who purchase local inputs such as utilities and local spending by agricultural workers and owner operators. Each report provides an estimate of agriculture’s contribution to output – dollar value of sales – and jobs for the county in question. For example, activity in agriculture and the resulting multiplier effect are responsible for $1.017 billion in sales and 4,003 jobs in Weakley County.

    David Hughes, Greever chair in agribusiness development and project leader, said there is a real need for the analysis at the county level. 

    “Many areas of Tennessee have new residents that are often unaware of local agricultural roots and the important role that agriculture plays in the local economy,” said Hughes. “Even long-established residents are often unaware of this contribution.”

    Agricultural activity is spread out across fields, pastures and woods, and the lack of concentration can make its contribution much less obvious than that of a large factory. 

    “The information in this report can be used to educate local leaders and the public at large regarding the contribution of agriculture and the necessity of resisting unwarranted encroachments on agricultural activities,” said Hughes.

    To access the reports, visit ageconomicimpact.tennessee.edu and click on the county of interest. The webpage also provides training materials for those who wish to learn more about the method of analysis used to generate the reports.

    The research was supported by Farm Credit Mid-America; Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association; Tennessee Department of Agriculture; Tennessee Farm Bureau; and the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board. It was also supported by members of the county-level agricultural economic impact workgroup who assisted in developing the final version of the reports.

    The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence to provide real life solutions through teaching, discovery and service. Visit ag.tennessee.edu for more information.

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