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What’s Feeding the US Economy? Food and Ag Production, Study Shows

Nov 16, 2017

More than one-fifth of the nation’s economy is linked, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors, according to a nationwide economic impact study commissioned by IDFA and 21 other trade associations. The study, released today, also shows that 28 percent of all American jobs are linked to food and agriculture. This data includes the $628.27 billion overall economic impact of dairy products produced and sold in the United States.

The associations launched a new website,, that features the economic impact of the overall food and ag industry and links to interactive tools used by each of the associations. IDFA’s Dairy Delivers provides specific dairy industry data.

“IDFA was pleased to help shape and drive the Feeding the Economy study, which clearly proves that food and agriculture is the largest manufacturing sector in our nation,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO.  “With officials threatening U.S. withdrawal from free-trade pacts, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), this study provides hard evidence that food and agriculture exports are an important part of the health of the U.S. economy. U.S. food and agricultural exports account for more than $146 billion in trade.”

Results of the study are being shared with policymakers on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country because jobs and economic development are relevant to discussions on both tax reform and trade negotiations. In fact, the food and agricultural trade associations sent a letter to all 50 governors this week, urging them to voice their support for modernization, not withdrawal, of NAFTA.

Key findings from the study:

Total Jobs: 43,311,057

Total Wages: $1.9 trillion

Total Taxes: $894.13 billion

Exports: $146.32 billion

Total Food and Industry Economic Impact:  $6.7 trillion

The economic data was compiled by John Dunham & Associates and is available at The analysis illustrates the direct impact of food and agriculture on jobs, wages, economic output, exports, and state and local business taxes. The interactive website also breaks out the data at the national, state and congressional district levels. Dairy Delivers provides an analysis of the economic stimulus of dairy food products.

For more information, contact Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at

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