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Report: food and ag sectors have massive impact on economy

By Sean Ellis

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

POCATELLO – A recently released national report shows the food and agriculture industries combined have a massive impact on the nation’s economy.

The seventh annual Feeding the Economy report shows the two industries and their suppliers contribute more than $8.6 trillion to the U.S. economy, which is nearly one-fifth of total national output and a 22 percent increase since the 2019 report.

The data, which is also broken down by state, shows the food and ag sectors in Idaho together are responsible for 370,878 jobs, $21.9 billion in total wages, $7.5 billion in taxes and $1 billion in exports.

The Feeding the Economy report’s results are shocking in a good way and show that the food industry truly is the foundation of the nation’s economy and way of life, said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Bryan Searle.

“Those numbers are astounding and reveal just how important the agriculture and food sector is to Idaho’s economy and the American economy as a whole,” he said. “I would encourage everybody involved in the industry to spread those numbers far and wide and especially make sure your elected officials know about them.”

Searle, who farms in Shelley, said the results of the report should be required reading material for every decision-maker in Idaho.

A separate University of Idaho study shows the economic impact of the state’s agriculture industry alone is huge.

According to that report – The Economic Contribution of Idaho Agribusiness – the state’s ag industry was responsible for $29 billion in sales in 2019, which amounted to 17 percent of Idaho’s total economic output.

The U of I report also showed agriculture was responsible directly and indirectly for one in every eight jobs in the state and 13 percent of Idaho’s total gross state product.

Feeding the Economy is an economic impact study commissioned by 25 food and agriculture groups, including American Farm Bureau Federation.

The report can be found at

Providing data on jobs, wages and economic output, the farm-to-fork analysis illustrates the food and agriculture sectors impact on local and nationwide economic activity.

The Feeding the Economy analysis includes the direct and indirect economic activity surrounding the food and farming industries, capturing both the upstream and downstream activity generated by both sectors.

For example, it would include a new employee hired by a farm equipment dealer because farmers are buying more tractors.

It would also include as an induced economic impact the money spent by a food retail associate when they spend their paycheck.

The report shows that together, the two sectors, which are inextricably linked, have a formidable impact on the U.S. economy.

This year’s report shows the U.S. food and agriculture sectors nationwide directly and indirectly support 46 million jobs and provide $2.61 trillion in total wages.

The sectors together are also responsible for $948 billion in taxes and $202 billion in exports.

The 2023 report notably reveals that the manufacturing of agricultural products accounts for nearly one-fifth of total manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Overall, more than 46 million jobs are supported across the food and agriculture supply chain, an increase of nearly 2 percent since the 2019 report despite the economic challenges and disruptions associated with the global pandemic.

“This study highlights the impact the greater food and ag sector industries have on the American economy and the sector’s critical role in providing economic opportunity, nutritional value and safe food for all Americans,” American Bakers Association President and CEO Eric Dell said in a news release announcing the report’s findings.

According to the news release, the strength highlighted in this year’s report reinforces that agriculture is evolving and innovating to meet the demands of the 21st Century.

For example, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, between 1948 and 2019, land use for agriculture decreased by 28 percent while land productivity grew nearly four times and labor productivity in agriculture grew more than 10 times.

This year’s report showed increased economic output in every state compared to the 2022 report.