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BETHANY FUNKHOUSER: SC agribusiness brings in $46.2B a year

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Agriculture continues to have by far the largest impact on our state’s way of life.

According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, agribusiness (which includes agriculture and forestry) accounts for 245,957 jobs and $46.2 billion in annual economic impact making it the number one industry in South Carolina according to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.

The top commodities in South Carolina:

1. Broiler chickens

2. Turkeys

3. Corn

4. Cattle

5. Soybeans

6. Cotton

7. Chicken eggs

8. Peanuts

9. Floriculture

10. Tobacco

According to the 2017 United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Census of Agriculture, the Pee Dee Region had an agricultural economic impact of approximately $1,674,000,000. The top counties include Sumter, Kershaw, and Chesterfield. Kershaw and Chesterfield were the top leaders in poultry and eggs and Sumter had the largest ag impact at $13,243,938 for corn in the Pee Dee region.

Florence County

If we look directly at Florence County, we can see that the top commodities include:

1. Soybeans: $15,675,000

2. Corn: $6,593,000

3. Cotton: $6,390,000

4. Tobacco: $3,588,000

5. Peanuts: $2,688,000

These are only the top five commodities. There are dozens of other commodities in Florence County that add to the over $67 million in agricultural impact, including sweet potatoes, livestock, greenhouses, and greens to name a few, according to the 2017 United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service Census of Agriculture

Darlington County

If we look at Darlington County, we can see that there is an agricultural impact of $132 million. Some commodities with the highest ag impact in Darlington County include:

1. Poultry and eggs: $37,809,827

2. Soybeans: $10,581,949

3. Cotton: $9,343,219

4. Corn: $9,120,037

5. Field nurseries: $6,784,700

Some other top commodities in Darlington County include turfgrass, tobacco, peanuts, and sweet potatoes.

The value of agricultural production in the Pee Dee underlines how vital agriculture is in our communities and how important it is to maintain our agricultural community for the economic well-being of the Pee Dee.

It is wonderful to see businesses outside of the agricultural sector support the agricultural community. Recently Duke Energy provided $500,000 in grants for agribusiness education. This grant was divided between the S.C. Governor’s School for Agriculture ($150,000), The Centers for Heir’s Property Preservation ($150,000), and for the National FFA Organization($200,000.) The new Farm at Florence District 1 was also awarded $50,000 to promote agriculture education.

By supporting intergenerational farm operations in the fields and bringing agriculture into the classroom to grow future generations of farmers shows how various industries and the state is supporting the interconnected network that makes up the South Carolina economy.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

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Agriculture is inherently a precarious business. We all know families knocked down by lousy crop years or who had to fold because of a lack of people willing to work honest jobs in the agribusiness sector.

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