Cyndi's Two Cents

Food & ag drive U.S. economy


The seventh annual Feeding the Economy report released by 25 food and ag groups last week contains some powerful information on jobs, wages and economic output pertaining to the U.S. food and agriculture industries and their suppliers. The report shows the U.S. food and agriculture sector supports about 23 million jobs, provides $927 billion in wages, and is especially vital to our rural communities.

These are “farm to fork” numbers, encompassing the two million-plus farms and ranches that cover two out of every five acres in the U.S. and all the truck drivers, food scientists, and production workers employed in manufacturing, processing and storage facilities in the supply chain. It also includes the grocery stores, restaurants and other retail locations.

U.S. food and ag industries are responsible for more than $8.6 trillion (nearly 20%) of our country’s economic activity. Nearly 23 million jobs (15% of U.S. employment) are supported by these industries. Breaking those numbers down, food and ag industries are responsible for 1,852,776 total jobs and $47.67 billion in business taxes in Illinois. In Indiana, food and ag industries are responsible for 946,129 jobs and $17.67 billion in business taxes.

When considering the food and ag industries in this country, many fail to see beyond the cornfields and hog barns. American agriculture is a behemoth. It is critical not only in that it ensures a safe and abundant food supply but gives us economic opportunity and stability as well.

While many industries in this country – in the world – closed down during the pandemic, America’s farms and ranches continued with business as usual. It reminds me of the sign at the old Huck’s Convenience Store in Jacksonville, Illinois back in the 80’s that read “We Never Close.”

When faced with crises within our borders or outside of our borders, American agriculture steps up. It is resilient. It is reliable. Although painful and slow-going at times, the job gets done. American agriculture feeds people here and abroad. It rises above other industries as a huge economic driver.

The Feeding The Economy report does not only look at the “big picture” but drills down by state and congressional district within each state. I’m excited to have this new and important tool that we can all use when we are communicating the relevance of our rural communities to lawmakers at the state and federal level.

I encourage you to dig a little deeper into the report to see how it impacts you. You can simply type “Feeding the Economy” into the search engine of your choice or go to to learn more.

American agriculture: We never close.

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