New ‘profile’ shows Arkansas agri sector includes about 43,000 farms

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 861 views 

Agriculture is Arkansas’ biggest industry and and its economic impacts in 2017 topped $21 billion, according to the University of Arkansas. The last time impact was determined was in 2014, and the booklet containing the information was called the Economic Contributions of Arkansas Agriculture. It’s now called Arkansas’ Agriculture Profile.

“This booklet presents a concise look at Arkansas’ multi-faceted agriculture industry,” University of Arkansas President of Agriculture Mark Cochran said. “Many people don’t realize the impact Arkansas Agriculture has, contributing 17.1% of the state’s value added or $21.4 billion. This does not include the retail food sector, for example, grocery stores, restaurants and food service establishments.”

The state’s value added figure is the total value generated by agriculture, including purchases of goods and services such as fuel, electricity, financial services and others, UA extension economist Wayne Miller said. Consumer good and services such as groceries, clothing, automobiles, and others in the retail and service sector are part of the tabulation.

About 25.4% of that figure is in induced impact, while another 24% is in indirect impacts. Processing accounts for 32.9% while production is 15.7%. About 41% or 13.7 million acres in the state are dedicated to farms. There are about 43,000 farms in the state, and the average size is 319 acres, according to the profile. The average farm real estate value was $3,180 per acre.

Arkansas ranked 16th in the country with $8 billion in total agricultural cash receipts in 2016 and 11th among all states in animals and animal products with $4.7 billion. The state ranked first in rice production ($859 million) fourth in broilers ($346 million) sixth in cotton ($166 million) seventh in other poultry ($104 million) tenth in soybeans ($790 billion) 10th in soymeal ($201 million) and 10th in vegetable oil ($123 million). Those figures were calculated for 2016.

In 2016, Arkansas ranked 34th in overall GDP with $120.7 billion, but ranked eighth among all states when examining the share of GDP generated by agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting.

Agriculture contributed 264,215 jobs, or one out of every six in the state as of 2015. About $9.572 billion in wages was generated, or 15.2% of the state’s total.

Arkansas has 19 million forested acres, an area larger than New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island combined. About 2.7 million are federal acres. Forest production in the state increased significantly from the late 1970s to 2015. Softwood timber production increased 48% to 366 million tons. Hardwood production grew 64% to 532.8 million tons.