1708-Badger Common'Tater

Page 32

Badger Beat

Economic Impact of Specialty Crops and Irrigated Agriculture in Wisconsin

every other Wisconsin industry. For example, growers purchase equipment and fertilizers from local suppliers, hire crop scouting and accounting services and invest earnings in local banks.

By Associate Professor Paul Mitchell and Professor Steve Deller, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, UW-Madison, and Robert Smail, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

In turn, these farm workers and the input and service providers use their earnings to pay for housing, groceries and other personal expenditures in their local economies.

Wisconsin is home to nationally significant production and processing of specialty crops, chief among them potatoes, but also vegetables such as sweet corn and green beans, fruit like cranberries, plus several other fruits and vegetables. Irrigation is important for growing most of these specialty crops, and Wisconsin’s abundant water and rich soil resources are among the reasons why these specialty crops are grown and processed here into food. Irrigation is also important in Wisconsin for growing commodity crops as well, particularly field corn, soybeans and alfalfa, important crops for the state’s dairy industry. Many people know that specialty crops and irrigation are important to Wisconsin, but the key for communication with stakeholders and the public is to document specifically how important. The task is a common request, and economists have developed standard methods and metrics to document the importance of an industry or a technology.

Industry Specialty Crop Production Potatoes Vegetables Cranberries Other Fruit Specialty Crop Processing Total Impacts

This article will update an older estimate of the economic impact of specialty crops in Wisconsin (Keene and Mitchell 2010), plus expand it to include more broadly the economic impact of irrigated crop production in Wisconsin. ECONOMIC IMPACT Farmers growing specialty crops benefit the Wisconsin economy in multiple ways. In a direct sense, they create economic activity and jobs within their respective industries. Potato growers hire and pay people to work on their farms. However, crop production also benefits nearly

Total Revenue ($ million) $695 $271 $228 $158 $38 $2,822 $3,517

In this way, one dollar received by a Wisconsin farmer for producing and selling a specialty crop creates more than one dollar in value as the dollar is spent and re-spent in the statewide economy. The total economic impact of specialty crop production in Wisconsin captures this ripple effect in statewide spending. INCOME SPENDING Specialty crop processing has a similar ripple effect—processors hire and pay people and buy numerous inputs and services (including raw products from farmers), and this income is spent and re-spent in the statewide economy as well. The total economic impact of specialty crop processing in Wisconsin captures this ripple effect in statewide spending. Economists call this “ripple effect” for each industry its economic multiplier effect, and they have developed

Total Economic Activity ($ million) $1,059 $413 $348 $241 $58 $4,781 $5,835

Table 1: Total economic and employment impacts of the specialty crop production and processing in Wisconsin (2013-2015 average) 32 BC�T August

Total Jobs 7,567 2,922 2,497 1,735 413 16,981 24,538


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