Arizona agribusiness contributes a record $23.3 billion in sales to the state’s economy, according to a new report by UA Cooperative Extension’s Economic Impact Analysis Team, released to farmers and ranchers gathered at the 2017 Arizona Farm Bureau meeting this past week.
Other significant numbers out of the study, agribusiness directly and indirectly supported more than 138,000 full-and part-time jobs, and Arizona ranks among the leading states in producing lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, honeydew and other commodities.
The study was done by Ashley Kerna Bickel, Dari Duval and George Frisvold, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, who says the $23.3 billion includes indirect and multiplier effects, and is based on sales output.
“For example, vegetable and melon farming and agricultural support services are a huge industry in Yuma County, dairy and feed crop production are especially important in Central Arizona, and agribusiness wholesale is a major driver of the Santa Cruz County economy,” said Frisvold.
The report also found that a number of Arizona counties rank in the top 1% of all U.S. counties when it comes to different measures of crop and livestock production, and also found the vast majority of Arizona farm operations are family-run operations and partnerships. Farm industry representatives say the UA study is important for Arizonans.
“For you and me as Arizona consumers, it means that we have direct and indirect benefits from the agriculture Arizona farmers and ranchers create,” said Julie Murphree, Outreach Director for the Arizona Farm Bureau.
“Directly, because we need food and fiber to live, indirectly because this primary industry means that manufacturing and services sectors can exist. Agriculture is so important to all of us,” Murphree said.
Arizona farmers and ranchers say the public release of the study helps communicate to everyone in Arizona what’s happening in agriculture.
“Agriculture over the years has a tendency to just go about its business, to do what we do, and do it well, and we look up, and everybody’s eating well, but we don’t really know where it comes from, and why, and the importance of it,” said Steve Alameda, the President of the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, and a vegetable grower in Yuma.
“We need to let people know about our importance. We’re in the fields and in the rural areas and people don’t get a chance to see us all the time. These studies are a way to get these numbers out there, let people know we’re here,” said Alameda.
"I think the numbers were outstanding," said Jay Whetten, President of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association.
"I was expecting more in the 18 billion dollar range. I think it's very refreshing to see agriculture is definitely an active growing sector in the state of Arizona. We need to do more, so the public knows this and understands this, and knows we are producing, but at the same time, we're taking care of the land, and we are good stewards of the land," Whetten said.
"I think it's important to the mother going to the grocery store, to buy food for her family, to know that what she's buying is locally grown, and locally grown by people who know what they are doing, and that we're interested in her welfare, and her children's welfare. We have businesses that we want to pass on to the next generation, and as you can see by the numbers, the businesses are doing well and growing."
To see the full study, done by the 'Economic Impact Analytsis Team'....head to https://cals.arizona.edu/arec/publication/arizonas-agribusiness-system-contributions-state-economy .
****Chart on "slideshow photo" courtesy: Economic Impact Analysis Team****