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Tennessee Agriculture -Agricultural Extension Service the University of Tennessee

Tennessee Agriculture -Agricultural Extension Service the University of Tennessee

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Published by: Dbalt on Jan 04, 2012
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Agricultural Extension Service
The University of Tennessee
The Farming Sector
Input Supply Sector
The Processing and Distribution Sector
Community Development
What’s in the Future?
The Role of Your Institute of Agriculture
ennessee’s agriculture-related businessesbelong to an important and ever-changingpart of the state’s economy.Many of these changes have been dramatic. In1950, more than 30 percent of Tennessee’s popula-tion resided on farms. In 1990, this number was justover 2 percent. Furthermore, in 1970, farm produc-tion accounted for 8 percent of the state’s grossproduct. By 1996, production agriculture contrib-uted 1.2 percent to the value of Tennessee’s totalproduction. However, these percentages can bemisleading. While it is true that the relative share of the state’s total economy contributed by productionagriculture has declined in percentage terms, the totaldollar output of this sector was more than $2.2billion in 1997, up almost $500 million from 1987.What does this mean in terms of the importanceof agriculture in Tennessee? Well, it depends on whatyou are looking at
what you consider to beagriculture. While it is true that the number of people who depend on production agriculture(farming) for their livelihood and the relative shareproduction agriculture and its related services as apercentage of the state’s economy have both declinedin recent years, every Tennessean depends on agricul-ture. Agriculture-related businesses produce, processand distribute the food we eat; many of the clotheswe wear; the lumber we use to build houses, schoolsand churches; and the plants we enjoy in our homesand landscapes. Agriculture is also the source of raw materials used in manufacturing many prod-ucts, ranging from automobiles to zippers, that weuse every day.It takes a vast network of businesses known as the“agribusiness sector” or “agribusiness complex” toprovide us with these items. This sector is made up of three basic parts: the businesses that supply inputs tofarms, the farms that produce raw agriculturalproducts and the businesses that process these rawproducts and distribute final goods to consumers.This agribusiness network creates many jobsfor persons who probably do not connect them-selves with agriculture. A worker in an industrialplant may make gauges for farm machinery or atextile worker may make clothing from cottonfabric. In fact, 23 percent of the 2.2 million em-ployed persons in Tennessee work in theagribusiness sector.The production agriculture or farming sector isthe core of the agribusiness complex and is one of themore amazing economic sectors in the world. InTennessee, this sector is comprised of over 91,000farms that utilize roughly 45 percent of the state’stotal land area.The increasing productivity of American farmersis the envy of many other industries. From 1974-1991, agricultural productivity (output per worker)grew at a rate of 2.17 percent annually, while produc-tivity for the entire economy grew at a rate of 0.21percent annually. This type of productivity growthallows the average Tennessee farmer to feed 129persons, 101 in this country and 28 abroad.Increasing productivity has caused productionagriculture to be in a constant state of change. Onemajor change has been in the number of farms.While the trend since the 1940s has been towardfewer and larger farms that use a smaller share of thestate’s total land area, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture reported a slowing of this trend. From1993 to 1999, the number of farms in Tennesseedeclined 2.2 percent from just over 93,000 to ap-proximately 91,000
. This change in farm numberswas primarily due to an increase in the number of smaller farms in East Tennessee. While the numberof the smallest farms declined, there was a significantincrease in the number of farms in the 10- to 179-acrerange (12.2 percent) and a slight increase in the
 D. Alan Barefield, Associate ProfessorGeorge F. Smith, Professor Agricultural Economics

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