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Missouri agriculture tops $93 billion in annual economic impact

Jonathan Ahl
St. Louis Public Radio
Hay as seen on this farm in central Missouri in the summer of 2020 is one of the commodities for which Missouri is in the top five in the nation of production. That was one of the findings in a new report on the economic impact of agriculture on the state.

Agriculture added $94 billion to the Missouri economy in 2021, according to the state Department of Agriculture’s Economic Contribution Study.

That is up 6% from 2016, the last time the study was conducted.

The economic impact of agriculture goes far beyond the traditional farming areas of “cows, plows and sows,” said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Christi Miller.

“Agriculture touches so many things. In St. Louis, the plant science corridor, and the people in food science and the people in production agriculture, it just runs the gamut of folks who are touched by agriculture and who work in the agriculture sector,” Miller said.

The report also shows more than 450,000 jobs in Missouri are related to agriculture, an increase of 78,000 since 2016, and represents one in every 10 jobs in the state.

“We are a very diverse state when it comes to agriculture,” Miller said. “From cotton, rice and peanuts in the Bootheel, to the cattle industry, to corn and soybeans in the northern part of the state, there is a lot going on.”

Missouri is in the top 10 of states in the nation in producing 14 different commodities, and in the top five in hay, beef cows, rice and goats.

Crop production is responsible for the largest part of the state’s agricultural output in terms of dollars, followed by cattle, poultry and eggs, hogs and cotton.

Missouri is also second in the nation in number of farms with 95,000. A recent report from the US Department of Agriculture shows over the past 10 years, small farms continue to make up the majority of agriculture businesses, but they are becoming more economically risky and more reliant on household members working a non-agriculture related job.

Miller said the department sees the overall agriculture growth trend in Missouri continuing.

“We’re a state that is very open to agriculture, open to jobs that are part of agriculture and add value to agriculture in our state,” Miller said.

The report was produced by Decision Innovations Solutions, an Iowa-based economic research and analysis firm, and was paid for by agriculture trade groups in Missouri.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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