Grain exports offer $55.5b in economic output

New study reveals economic “ripple effect” in that every $1 of grain exported supports $2.19 in U.S. economy.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

November 7, 2017

3 Min Read
Grain exports offer $55.5b in economic output

Exports of U.S. feed grains and related products provide critical support across the U.S. economy, offering billions in direct and indirect economic benefits to farmers, rural communities and the nation as a whole.

New research commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) quantified these benefits, showing that U.S. feed grain and grain products exports were worth $18.9 billion in 2015 and supported $55.5 billion in economic output. These exports were linked directly or indirectly to nearly 262,000 jobs.

Furthermore, if exports were halted, the analysis indicated that more than 46,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) would be adversely affected at the farm, ethanol production and meat production levels before accounting for losses in linked industries.

“International markets represent demand that would not exist elsewhere,” said USGC chair Deb Keller, a farmer from Iowa. “This research highlights the important economic benefits of exports that our U.S. economy depends upon to subsist.”

Informa Economics IEG conducted the study, which examined the economic contributions to each state and 52 congressional districts from exports of corn, barley, sorghum, ethanol, dried distillers grains with solubles, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal and the corn equivalent of meat.

The study also extended the analysis to determine the importance of exports across the broader U.S. economy. The total impact of grain and grain products exported in 2015 indirectly supported more than 261,000 jobs across the U.S. and $21 billion in GDP.

Breaking down the numbers, these results showed that every $1 of grain exports generated supported an additional $2.19 in business sales, and every job directly created by the export of grain and grain products supported an additional 4.7 jobs in the U.S.

The largest contributions by a single grain or grain product are those made by the export of corn, the report stated. Corn exports, which totaled nearly $8.3 billion in 2015, directly support more than 27,000 farm jobs and generated $836 million in salaries and wages for those same farmers and their employees.

As measured by GDP, the corn equivalent of meat exports is the second most significant contributor to the U.S. economy. The export of U.S. meats indirectly supported 46,000 jobs in the U.S., $3.6 billion in GDP and economic output of $9 billion in 2015.

“The value of exports to the U.S. economy extends far beyond our fields and farms,” said NCGA president Kevin Skunes, a North Dakota farmer. “By analyzing the impacts to individual states and congressional districts, constituents and legislators alike can better understand how their local communities benefit from and depend on exports.”

The study found that the positive impacts of grain exports also extend well beyond the agriculture industry. “Some of the industries receiving the greatest economic benefit and contribution from grain exports are the whole trade, real estate, oil and natural gas extraction and pesticide and chemical manufacturing industries. Also receiving significant economic contributions from grain exports are the full- and limited-service restaurants, hospitals and employment services industries,” the report noted.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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