American Agriculture Drives Economic Growth

Posted by on January 9th, 2018 | 0 Comments »


The U.S. has the most abundant, varied and productive agriculture and food system in the world today.

Advances in technology, public and private sector investments in research and extension, and improvements in natural resource management means that less than 2 percent of the population is involved in farming. [1] Instead of working on farms or growing our own food, Americans can put their talents toward growing other parts of the economy.

While most Americans are not involved in production agriculture, the U.S. agriculture and food system is still a key driver of economic growth, providing $2 trillion in annual revenue, employment for 19 million people and $130 billion in profit for more than 2.6 million businesses. [2]

Agriculture represents 9 percent of all U.S. exports and is one of the few sectors that enjoys a positive trade balance. [3]


Uncertainty Creates Risk for U.S. Farmers

But U.S. producers are facing significant challenges from changing consumer preferences, climate change impacts and volatile agricultural markets.

From 2017 to 2026, global commodity prices will remain relatively low, making it difficult for U.S. farmers to stay competitive. [4]

Doubts about regional and global trade opportunities create uncertainty for farmers. Chronic under-funding of public sector agricultural research and development threatens to slow the pipeline of cutting-edge innovations that U.S. farmers need to improve their productivity.

Follow the story of Jerry and Emma, U.S. farmers who are improving the productivity and sustainability of their crop and pork production.

A lack of broadband internet service across 40 percent of rural America limits many farmers’ access to precision agriculture. [5] And an outdated transportation network makes getting products to market more time consuming and expensive.

The 2017 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) provides insight into the complex and sometimes difficult choices that U.S. farmers face in responding to these challenges.

Over the next few weeks, the GHI’s Harvest 2050 blog will feature the story of Jerry and Emma, a father and daughter who farm in the American Midwest.

Their story illustrates the critical importance of increasing investments in public sector agricultural research and development, expanding regional and global trade, improving transportation and communication infrastructures and developing partnerships between the public sector, agribusiness and farmers.


[1] 2012 USDA Agricultural Census.
[2-3] IBIS World Industry Report NN004, Agribusiness in the U.S., (July 2014).
[4] The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challenges, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2o17.
[5] 2016 Broadband Progress Report, U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), January 29, 2016.


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