Arizona Agriculture: A Growing $17.1 Billion Sector

By Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers: The University of Arizona releases economic data to show Arizona agriculture has become a $17 Billion Industry

Editor's note: This editorial first appeared in the Arizona Republic's "My Turn" section on Monday, November 17th, 2014. We republish it here with more details on the jobs impact Arizona agriculture has on our state, numbers worth noting. 

One of the greatest resources of this country is our inspiration – an idea every time you turn around. Some inspired ideas lack timing, the imagination of others, timid investors and some are just half baked. But we see tremendous evolution and revolution in old businesses becoming new and brand new businesses shaking the ground as to how the rest of us do business and even as to how we live day-to-day. The pace and velocity of inspired ideas are extraordinary.

Arizona agriculture is a $17.1 billion industry.

Agriculture and Arizona agriculture would hardly be described as some sort of emerging technology, but they continue to produce more, on less, with less invasive inputs and with less water than ever before. To highlight, this state uses about the same amount of water today as we did in 1957 (Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle were in the World Series). The reduction in water, due to efficiencies and new technologies, are in no small measure due to the strides in agriculture. And agriculture will do more.

The actual changes now coming off the drawing board of science and technology will ratchet up production efficiencies, improve the quality and safety of what we produce and reduce the costs of regulatory schemes. Even if you are immune to change by now, some of the innovations coming in animal and crop agriculture, may cause you to take notice. We not only produce more with less – we produce better with less.

And, we are not drying up and blowing away. Periodically, the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona produces an empirical update as to the economic contributions of Arizona agriculture. They just announced their findings and Arizona agriculture provides a $17.1 billion annual contribution to this state. Additionally, the Arizona agricultural sector provides 88,000 jobs and for every one of these jobs an additional 69,000 are provided. And remember … we make “stuff” … food, fiber and ornamentals, much of it for export with returns coming back to this state. If you listen closely in one of our fields or pastures or nurseries, if you put your ear close to the ground … you can just hear capital grow.

$17.1 billion … that’s my story and I am sticking with it.

Special note: The full report by the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be available soon and Arizona Farm Bureau will post to www.azfb.org