Agbiosciences drive economic growth, job creation in the Southern U.S.

Amid news of a still sputtering U.S. economic recovery, a report released today shows the nation’s agbioscience industries are growing, especially in the South.

According to a Battelle study released today, “Impact and Innovation: Agbioscience in the Southern United States,” agriculture, forestry and fisheries production generates $240 billion in regional economic activity within the Southern region and supports over 2.2 million jobs with labor income totaling $62 billion.

N.C. State University agricultural and life sciences Extension and research programs make a powerful difference on the state’s economy, says CALS Dean Richard Linton. Pictured: Dr. Jeremy Pattison, Plants for Human Health Institute, in a strawberry field at the Piedmont Research Station. Photo: Marc Hall.

Agbioscience encompasses a broad continuum of development, production and value-added use of plants and animals for food, health, fuel and industrial applications. The study’s findings show that agbioscience, its value-chain in production and the downstream industrial activity are vital to the country’s sustainable global and domestic economic future, with the Southern region helping drive that activity.

In addition, the downstream processing of agriculture, forestry and fisheries output into value-added food and industrial products adds an additional $1 trillion in output across the Southern region’s economy and almost 4.6 million jobs with labor income totaling over $200 billion.

“The current and future importance of the agbiosciences is hard to overstate,” said Simon Tripp, a co-author of the report. “For instance, this science and industry sector is fundamental to the survival of the world’s expanding population, the food security of our nation and the health of our population.”

While the Battelle study does not break down agriculture, forestry and fisheries economic activity by state, Dr. Mike Walden, an N.C. Cooperative Extension Service economist and William Neal Reynolds Professor at North Carolina State University, has determined that North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness (including the state’s food, fiber and forestry industries) account for $71.6 billion of the state’s  $425 billion gross state product and 638,000 of North Carolina’s 3.8 million jobs.

The industry’s tremendous economic impact across the region is due in large part to the modern science and technology innovations from the Land-grant University Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station System. The system successfully addresses agriculture’s crucial national and global needs through research and development, practice improvement, skills enhancement and new technology introduction, dissemination and adoption, the report shows.

This integrated research-and-extension partnership has a powerful impact on North Carolina’s agricultural and life sciences industries, said Dr. Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at North Carolina State University.

Read the full story on the CALS website.