Agriculture, forestry has huge impact on S.C.
S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers is traveling around South Carolina promoting awareness of the huge economic impact agriculture and forestry have on our state. Commenting on a study conducted by Dr. James London, London & Associates of Clemson, Weathers noted that from 2006 to 2013, agriculture and forestry in South Carolina have grown 23 percent increasing the annual economic impact to $41.7 billion and 212,000 jobs.
The study, commissioned by the Palmetto AgriBusiness Council, South Carolina Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Farm Bureau and Clemson University Public Service Activities, was unveiled by Commissioner Weathers and Gov. Nikki Haley earlier this year. “It’s exciting to see this growth in jobs and our agribusiness economy,” said Weathers. “The numbers also help portray the magnitude and powerful influence of this great industry in our state.”
“Agriculture and forestry share a rich heritage in South Carolina,” said S.C. Farm Bureau President David Winkles. “Those sectors, including food, fiber and forest products and support services continue to be major economic drivers for our state.” South Carolina’s diverse Agribusiness Cluster consists of 60 sectors in the agriculture component, and 29 sectors in the forestry component – generating $41.7 billion total and $26.8 billion in direct output, he said.
In aggregate, these sectors account for 9.1 percent of economic activity, 10.5 percent of the state’s workforce and $8.8 billion in labor income in South Carolina. Weathers stressed the importance of supporting S.C. farmers and producers by buying local. It keeps our dollars here and generates an even greater impact on the rural economy and job growth, he said.
Weathers attributes much of the growth to the “50 x 20” plan pushed by the S.C. Department of Agriculture, along with the Palmetto Agribusiness Council and the South Carolina Farm Bureau, and the 20/15 Project led by the South Carolina Forestry Commission and the SC Forestry Association. The 50 x 20 plan calls for increasing the economic impact of the Agribusiness Cluster to $50 billion by the year 2020.
The 20/15 Project calls for the forest industry to have a $20 billion impact by year 2015. Reaching these targets would increase agribusiness’s impact by $16 billion over the impact assessment for the year 2006. Weathers said that in addition to looking at new crops, the partnering entities are looking at recruiting companies to use S.C. farm products, and to boost Agri-tourism in the state.