Growing Gratitude: Agriculture is the backbone of the state

As the holidays fast approach, many people take the time to reflect on the things they are grateful for, such as family, friends, their work, and more. As we continue to think about this, there is one more thing I would like you to be thankful for, farming.

Agriculture is arguably the backbone of our country, and more specifically, it is the backbone of our state. Let’s look at just a few ways farming has helped you and 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 industrial groups (SCDA).” Agribusiness cluster refers to traditional agriculture and forestry. So when we look at the impacts, we’re going to look at agriculture and forestry and also break them down by specific industry. In 2020, the agribusiness had a total annual economic impact of US$46.2 billion. This includes the economic impacts directly and indirectly through the agribusiness.

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The agricultural portion of the cluster had an overall economic impact of around US$25 billion, with poultry processing being the most important industry, followed by landscaping and horticulture services, followed by poultry and egg production. Looking at the impact of agribusiness on forestry, the overall economic impact was around US$21 billion, with carton mills being the major industries, carton container manufacture and sanitary paper product manufacturing (SCDA).

Agribusiness has not only had a significant economic and financial impact on South Carolina, it has also created jobs. According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, the total economic impact was equivalent to 246,957 jobs. That means one in nine jobs in South Carolina is related to the agribusiness. If we look specifically at the agricultural component of agribusiness, the employment figure reflects around 149,000 jobs, and forestry around 98,000 jobs. If you look at jobs directly related to agribusiness and nothing else, there are still nearly 129,000 jobs. This shows us how the economic impact of agribusiness can affect many other aspects of South Carolina’s economy.

Agribusiness and farming can be found in every corner of South Carolina. In many cases we can see this visually on a daily basis, while other aspects of agribusiness are not so easy to see. There are nearly 25,000 farms in South Carolina that provide the food, fiber and energy that produce products we all use every day. Many farmers work countless hours to keep their farms running and to ensure that we are provided with quality food from farm to fork. Without farmers there would be no food, beer and alcohol, cotton clothing or leather goods.

As we approach this holiday season and you ponder what you are grateful for, think of all that farming has given to our nation, our state, and to you, your family, and your 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 affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status, and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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