Data released last week by the Economic Research Service shows that every dollar of ag exports stimulated $1.22 in business activity, supporting more than one million jobs in the U.S.
"More than one million people go to work every day thanks to exports of American-grown products," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack commented.
According to ERS, fiscal years 2009 to 2014 represent the strongest six years in history for U.S. agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $771.7 billion.
Agricultural exports last fiscal year reached $152.5 billion, the highest level on record.
Further, the number of full-time civilian jobs required by agricultural exports – 1,094,400 – included 793,900 jobs in the nonfarm sector.
About 79,800 of those 793,900 jobs were in food processing; 331,200 were in other manufacturing sectors; and 382,900 were in services, trade, and transportation.
All nonfarm sectors of the economy now receive about 85% of the additional economic activity supported by agricultural exports, ERS said.
The data also examined the effect of U.S. imports of agricultural commodities, which amounted to $104.2 billion in 2013. If these imported items had been produced domestically, the domestic output effect would have been $227.2 billion, ERS said, but just as with exports, moving imported products to consumers supports jobs in the data processing, financial, legal, management, administrative, marketing, and transportation sectors.
Each dollar spent on agricultural imports in 2013 would have required another $1.18 in supporting goods and services if those imported items had been produced domestically, the report said.
In reviewing the trade numbers, Vilsack said more exports translates into more jobs. He highlighted the ongoing discussion regarding the Trade Promotion Authority – a measure that would allow Congress only an up or down vote on impending trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"Expanded U.S. agricultural exports mean more new jobs," Vilsack said, "but our farmers and ranchers will miss out on new markets for American products if Congress doesn't act on Trade Promotion Authority early this year."
Read the full ERS Overview: Effects of Trade on the U.S. Economy