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Study shows critical role of food and ag sectors in feeding economy during pandemic

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Over the past year, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has served as a reminder of the critical role that the United States food and agriculture industries still play in a resilient food supply chain, fueling our nation and ensuring that Americans are supplied with an abundance of safe food during this time of need.

A new nationwide economic impact study, commissioned by 33 food and agriculture groups and available at, reinforces the significance of these industries as critical to day-to-day American life.

This study sheds light for policymakers on how the food and agriculture sector not only feeds Americans, but also fuels the U.S. economy. The COVID-induced economic downturn of the past year has only served to further highlight the critical importance of the food and agriculture industries.

The economic impact study released today shows that one fifth of the nation’s economy and one quarter of American jobs are linked to the food and agriculture sectors, either directly or indirectly. Additionally, the analysis broke down the food and agriculture sectors’ economic impact by state and congressional district.

Here are the key findings:

Total Jobs: 40,714,808
Total Wages: $2.04 trillion
Total Taxes: $797.22 billion
Exports: $155.58 billion
Total Food and Industry Economic Impact: $6.975 trillion

The food and agriculture industries’ absolute vital role in feeding Americans is well known, but less talked about is their incredible impact in also feeding and growing the nation’s economy. This historic farm-to-fork economic analysis quantifies the impact of the jobs, wages, taxes, and exports the industry makes possible.

“NASDA members advance the more than two million farms across the country and support all those who produce and secure our food supply. Today’s Feeding The Economy report allows us to better recognize the work of these individuals, understand how we can work together to overcome the pandemic and promote agriculture’s monumental contribution to our national economy,” said National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) CEO Dr. Barb Glenn.

“These numbers leave no doubt that food and agriculture remain absolutely central to our nation’s well-being, especially during a time of crisis,” said John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). “This data is essential for policymakers considering changes to tax and trade issues that might affect the food and agriculture sectors.”

“The nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). “From our dairy farms, to the processors, truck drivers, equipment and packaging makers, all the way to the dairy case stockers at your local grocery store, the people who make up the U.S. dairy industry are the world’s best at delivering safe, nutritious dairy foods to consumers everywhere.”

“99.4 percent of American households buy and enjoy frozen foods,” said Alison Bodor, President and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI). “Frozen food companies and every worker in the supply chain take pride in providing nutritious, affordable meal options that help feed families in ways that allow them to enjoy variety, have more time together and reduce food waste.”

To measure the total economic impact of the sectors, the analysis also includes the indirect and induced economic activity surrounding these industries, which captures upstream and downstream activity. For example, when a farm equipment retailer hires new employees because farmers are buying more tractors, experts consider the new salaries an indirect impact. Similarly, when a retail associate spends her paycheck, an induced economic impact occurs. Together, these have a multiplier effect on the already formidable direct impact of food and agriculture.

Sponsoring Organizations include: American Bakers Association, American Beverage Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Soybean Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Beer Institute, Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Consumer Brands Association, Corn Refiners Association, CropLife America, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, The Fertilizer Institute, FMI – The Food Industry Association, Global Cold Chain Alliance , Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), National Automatic Merchandising Association, National Chicken Council , National Confectioners Association, National Grain and Feed Association, National Grocers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Restaurant Association, North American Meat Institute, North American Millers’ Association, SNAC International, The Sugar Association Inc., U.S. Grains Council, United Fresh Produce Association, USA Rice.