World Statistics Day: Agricultural Trade Multipliers showcase the many ways agricultural exports affect U.S. economy

This flow chart shows how additional economic activity was generated by agricultural exports in 2018.

The Agricultural Trade Multipliers, one of many data products offered by the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS), provide annual estimates of the effects of trade in farm and food products on the U.S. economy. These effects, when expressed as multipliers, reflect the amount of economic activity and jobs generated by agricultural exports. Similarly, the agricultural trade multiplier can be utilized to evaluate impacts of shocks such as COVID-19 on the agricultural sector. As this Chart of Note shows, exports constitute a large market for U.S. farm and food products and send ripples of activity through the nation’s economy. For instance, farm purchases of fuel and fertilizer to produce agricultural commodities for export spur economic activity in the manufacturing, trade, and transportation sectors, and the movement of these exports requires data processing, financial, legal, managerial, and administrative services. In 2018, U.S. agricultural exports valued at $139.6 billion generated an additional $162.9 billion in economic activity, for a total of $302.5 billion in economic output; thus, on average, every dollar of U.S. agricultural product exported generated $1.17 of additional domestic economic activity. No sector benefited more than the services, trade, and transportation sector, which realized $88.2 billion worth of additional economic activity due to U.S. agricultural exports. On the farm, agricultural exports supported an additional $22.1 billion of business activity beyond the value of the agricultural exports themselves. This chart is drawn from ERS’s Effects of Trade on the U.S. Economy, released March 2020.

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