Many of us avoid numbers whenever possible, with the exception of things like our blood pressure, maybe our Powerball picks and, of course, the speed limit. Here’s an interesting number: 88, the number of initiative petitions that have already been submitted to the state auditor’s office for the 2018 election cycle.

But numbers can be an important tool for those who have little knowledge of a farm, a seed plant or a feed lot. For example, the composition of this year’s Missouri General Assembly includes 15 members involved in agriculture. Sounds pretty good until you realize there are 196 members of the House and Senate.

Within our county structure, there are commissioners, county clerks, recorders, auditors, collectors, prosecutors, sheriffs, assessors, treasurers, public administrators, etc.  More than 1,400 belong to the Missouri Association of Counties.  That’s a lot of county elected officials, but they’re all important to the agriculture industry.

Numbers from a new study paint an amazing picture.  Funded by the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority with the support of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Farm Bureau, the study quantifies the economic contribution of the state’s agriculture and forestry industries from field through processing. And it is significant.

For example, in Missouri, for every million dollars generated by agriculture and forestry, there is $420,000 in additional output and 4.4 jobs created in other industries.  According to the results, in 2016, agriculture, forestry and related industries in Missouri contributed:

  • $88.4 billion in total sales (including food and related products manufacturing; crop, livestock, forage and fisheries production; agricultural inputs and services; and forest products manufacturing)
  • $33 billion in value-added activity
  • $55.4 billion for the purchase of inputs
  • $17.5 billion in labor income
  • $4 billion in federal taxes
  • $2.2 billion in state/local taxes
  • 378,232 jobs

In addition to determining statewide contributions, the study quantifies economic importance in each of Missouri’s 114 counties and eight Congressional districts.

The work that goes into these numbers begins with Missouri’s farmers and ranchers. Sometimes, when we’re focused on our farm gate, we don’t always see the impact on Main Street. In the past, fewer factors were brought into studies, but in this full picture, it was discovered that agriculture’s impact is more than seven times what was previously reported.

We’ll celebrate our agriculture industry during Thank A Farmer Week which is scheduled for February 5-11.  What a great opportunity to reflect not only on the abundance of our food supply but the many ways in which our nation benefits from what begins on a farm and ends up as food on our plate, fuel in our tank or fiber in our shirt.

To find out more about the Missouri Agriculture 2016 Economic Contribution Study or Thank a Farmer Week, visit