AGRIBUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

The Agribusiness Industry in the United States

Overview

The U.S. agribusiness industry is a major competitor in the global market, due to its strong workforce, market size, and infrastructure. The agribusiness industry encompasses subsectors such as agricultural chemicals, crop production, aquaculture, forestry and logging, and livestock (agricultural machinery and equipment is represented in the machinery and equipment industry page). The agribusiness industry contributed over $159 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy in 2018. In 2017, inward stock of FDI in the U.S. agribusiness industry totaled more than $14 billion.

The U.S. agribusiness industry is expansive and provides important support to the economy and its workers. More than 2 million farms across the country cover over 900 million acres. The U.S. agribusiness industry produced $388.5 billion in agricultural products in 2017. The industry directly employs over 311,000 workers in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations as of May 2018 and more than 115,000 in other occupations such as engineering, production, and food science. In the same year, inward FDI in the U.S. agribusiness sector directly supported 14,700 jobs in the United States.

Investors in the U.S. agribusiness industry are supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s series of grade shields, official seals, and labels representing the quality and integrity of products such as beef, chicken, fruits and vegetables, eggs, and organic products.

Industry Subsectors

Agricultural Chemicals: the manufacturing, mixing, formulation, and preparation of fertilizers, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals. 

Agricultural Commodities: crop production, which produced $194 billion of goods in 2017. That year, the top agricultural commodities were corn and soybeans.

Aquaculture: the cultivation of aquatic organisms in controlled aquatic environments, both in marine and freshwater environments. Most U.S. aquaculture (70 percent) pertains to the freshwater farming of catfish and trout.

Forestry and logging: the establishment, management, use, and conservation of forests, trees, and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values.

Livestock: the production of animal goods such as meat, dairy, wool, and leather. In 2017, livestock commodities accounted for half of U.S. agricultural products with a value of $195 billion. Cattle and calves were the top livestock commodity in 2017, followed by poultry and eggs, and milk.

FEDERAL PROGRAMS & RESOURCES

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences. It invests in and supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice.

USDA Rural Development Business Programs provide financial backing and technical assistance to stimulate business creation and growth. The programs work through partnerships with public and private community-based organizations and financial institutions to provide financial assistance, business development, and technical assistance to rural businesses. These programs help to provide capital, equipment, space, job training, and entrepreneurial skills that can help to start and/or grow a business. Business Programs also support the creation and preservation of quality jobs in rural areas.

The USDA Economic Research Service is a federal statistical agency with the mission to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.

Prepared in collaboration with the International Trade Administration's Industry & Analysis Unit (I&A)

Emblem of the International Trade Administration

Industry & Analysis (I&A) staff of industry, trade and economic analysts devise and implement international trade and investment strategies to strengthen the global competitiveness of U.S. industries. By combining in-depth analysis with the International Trade Administration’s industry relationships, I&A devises initiatives to unlock export and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses, represent the interests of U.S. industry in trade negotiations, and publishes research on global opportunities for U.S. companies.

Investing in Rural America

Rural regions of the United States have lower costs of business while providing a high quality of life, access to transportation, and abundant natural resources—the whole package for foreign investors. This panel discussion from the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit Academy discusses the unique opportunities and advantages of investing in rural America. 

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