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Growing gratitude: Agriculture is state’s backbone

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Agriculture is arguably the backbone of our country, and more specifically, it’s the backbone of our state. Let’s look at just a couple ways on how agriculture has helped you, everyone else in the state.

According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, “South Carolina’s agribusiness cluster is one of the state’s largest industry groups (SCDA).” Agribusiness cluster refers to traditional agriculture and forestry, so as we look at the effects, we will look at is agriculture and forestry and we will also break it down by specific industry. In 2020, agribusiness had a total annual economic impact of $46.2 billion. This includes economic impact directly and indirectly from agribusiness.

The agriculture portion of the cluster had a total economic impact of roughly $25 billion, with poultry processing being the top industry followed by landscape and horticultural services, then poultry and egg production following closely behind. While looking at the forestry impact of agribusiness, there was a total economic impact of roughly $21 billion, with paperboard mills being the top industry, paperboard container manufacturing, and sanitary paper product manufacturing (SCDA).

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Not only has agribusiness had a significant economic and financial impact on South Carolina, but it has also provided employment. According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the total economic impact corresponded to 246,957 jobs. That means one out of every nine jobs in South Carolina is related to agribusiness. If we look specifically at the agriculture component of agribusiness, the employment amount reflects roughly 149,000 jobs, and forestry is about 98,000 jobs. Looking at jobs directly related to agribusiness, and nothing else, there are still almost 129,000 jobs. This shows us how agribusiness’s economic impact can affect many other aspects of South Carolina’s economy.

The agriculture industry and farming can be found in every corner of South Carolina. In many cases we can visually see this on a daily basis with other aspects of agribusiness not being as easily recognized. There are almost 25,000 farms in South Carolina providing food, fiber, and energy that produce products we all utilize daily. Many farmers work countless hours to keep their farms running and make sure we are supplied with the high quality food products, from farm to fork. Without farmers there would be no food, no beer and alcohol, no cotton clothing, or leather products.

As we approach this holiday season, and as you reflect on what you are grateful for, consider everything agriculture has provided to our nation, state and for you, your family, and neighbors.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

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