Contribution of On-Farm Agriculture and Agribusiness to the Pinal County Economy

Pinal County ranks in the top 2% of all U.S. counties in the total value of agricultural sales and the top 1% in cotton and cottonseed sales, milk sales, and inventories of cattle and calves. Supporting large dairy and beef industries, Pinal County ranks in the top 4% of all counties in barley acreage, corn acreage, and forage crop acreage. 

Agriculture’s contributions to Pinal County’s economy goes beyond on-farm production and jobs. A “ripple” of economic activity is stimulated in other industries to meet the demands of agricultural producers for inputs (indirect multiplier effects) and for consumer goods and services by households that derive their income from agriculture (induced multiplier effects). These multiplier effects mean the total economic contribution of on-farm agriculture is considerably greater than indicated by farm gate sales. On- farm agriculture is just one part of an entire system of agribusiness industries, such as milk processing and dairy product manufacturing.

This study provides a snapshot of existing agricultural activity in Pinal County and conducts county-level economic contribution analyses for: (1) on-farm agriculture and (2) on-farm agriculture and agribusiness combined in 2016. Finally, as the availability of irrigation water is of utmost importance to crop production in the region, this study considers the economic consequences of a hypothetical water cutback. It estimates not only direct on-farm effects of reduced acreage, crop sales, and hired farm labor. It also estimates, through multiplier effects, the negative effects of reduced agricultural production on the broader economy of Pinal County.


Ashley Kerna Bickel, Dari Duval, George Frisvold

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