May 25, 2020

New USDA-ERS Report

ERS Ag and Food Sectors and the Economy Report Released

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Services (ERS) released Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, which consist of 70 charts and maps covering key information about the farm and food sectors, including agricultural markets and trade, farm income, food prices and consumption, food security, rural economies, and the interaction of agriculture and natural resources in 2018.

One major finding in that in 2018, the U.S. food and beverage manufacturing sector employed 1.7 million workers or about 1% of the nonfarm employment in the United States. These manufacturing jobs include processing, inspecting, packing, janitorial and guard services, product development, and recordkeeping, as well as nonproduction duties such as sales, delivery, advertising, and clerical and routine office functions. Within this sector, meat and poultry manufacturing employed the largest share of workers, over 29%, accounting for almost 1/3 of the total food and beverage manufacturing employment.

The ERS report also found that agriculture, food, and related industries contributed $1.053 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, accounting for a 5.4% share. Farming contributed to $132.8 billion of the total sum, about 1% of the GDP. The report notes that the overall contribution of the agriculture sector to GDP is larger than this estimated amount because sectors related to agriculture, such as forestry, fishing, and related activities, food, beverages, and tobacco products, textiles, apparel, and leather products, food and beverage stores, and food service, eating and drinking places also rely on agricultural inputs to contribute added value to the economy.

In 2018, 22 million jobs were related to the agriculture and food sector, representing 11% of the total U.S. workforce. On-farm employment accounted for 2.6 million, or 1.3% of U.S. employment. Behind housing and transportation, food ranked third for American’s household expenses in 2018, representing a 12.9% share.

The report noted that there are about 2.05 million operating farms in the U.S. consisting of 444 acres per farm in 2017, compared to 155 acres per farm in 1935. With the rise of technological advances, total farm output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2017. Animal and animal products produced $176.5 billion in 2018. Cattle and calf receipts accounted for 38% of that total, poultry and egg receipts accounted for 26%, and dairy receipts 20%.

Read the ERS report here