The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has served as a reminder of the critical role that the United States food and agriculture industries play in fueling our nation and ensuring that Americans are supplied with an abundance of safe food during this time of need. America’s food and agricultural industry is committed to helping the country get through the COVID-19 pandemic. A new nationwide economic impact study, commissioned by 21 food and agriculture groups and available on the Feeding the Economy website, reinforces the significance of these industries as critical to day-to-day American life.
As Americans follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to take precautions and practice social distancing, the 20 million employees in the post-farm gate industry are working overtime to produce, distribute, and ensure access to high-quality food and agricultural products during this unprecedented time. Further, the nearly 3 million people employed at supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments are on the front lines providing for the needs of Americans.
Meanwhile, the lives of hard-working people in nearly 14.2 million jobs in establishments where food and beverages are sold for on-premise consumption have been upended by state and local restrictions on gatherings, events, and dining.
The economic impact study released today shows that one-fifth of the nation’s economy and one-fourth 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: 46,856,444
- Total Wages: $2.27 trillion
- Total Taxes: $885.29 billion
- Exports: $148.4 billion
- Total Food and Industry Economic Impact: $7.63 trillion
Food industry experts have indicated the demand for food, water, and cleaning products over the course of recent weeks has exceeded any previous shopping holiday season, causing retailers to experience delays between replenishment. In a show of supply chain strength and collaboration, an ad-hoc partnership between the International Foodservice Distributors Association and FMI-Food Industry Association connects foodservice distributors that have excess capacity (products, transportation services, warehousing services) to assist food retailers and wholesalers that require additional resources to fulfill needs at grocery stores, which are experiencing skyrocketing demand.
“Recent events are testing the resiliency of our agriculture and food system. This research helps shore up something we already knew: food and agriculture is critical to all Americans and the economic prosperity of our country,” said National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Dr. Barb Glenn.
“Viewing this report from the COVID-19 perspective, one can see that our efforts to keep the food production and distribution infrastructure operating efficiently is critical to both human and economic needs,” said John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “Regrettably, the report also shows the substantial economic impact of our nation’s restaurants and their related businesses being virtually shut down by the need for social distancing.”
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 as an indirect impact. Similarly, when a retail associate spends her paycheck, an induced economic impact occurs. Together, these impacts have a multiplier effect on the already formidable direct impact of food and agriculture.