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Monday, June 23, 2014

U.S. agriculture saw double-digit growth in 2013

The output of the agriculture sector in the United States of America (USA) grew by 16.4 percent after inflation last year, the fastest rise for the sector since 1998 and the nation’s gross domestic product grew just 1.8 percent, with the output of the second-fastest growing sector, the information industry, increasing by 3.2 percent, NaijaAgronet news gathered.

Last week, US government released its estimates of state economic growth in 2013. North Dakota according to reports, led with a growth rate of 9.7 percent. Alaska was the only state whose economy declined, shrinking 2.1 percent, largely because of declining oil production.

In the report, the economy of the District of Columbia also declined, but that was because of cuts in government spending while North Dakota benefited from its rising production of shale oil, but was also helped because its agriculture sector amounts to 12.9 percent of its economy, more than that of any other state except South Dakota.

Naijaagronet news checks indicates that agriculture accounted for just 1.6 percent of the country’s output in 2013. But it was learnt that that was the largest share in recent years, up from a recent low of 0.9 percent in 2006. The agriculture sector includes forestry, fishing and hunting as well as farming, but farming is much larger than the other categories.

Naijaagronet news authoritatively gathered that last year, the government changed the way it calculates GDP figures, including counting research and development spending as investments rather than as consumption. It revised figures only back to 1997, so earlier years’ output and growth figures for agriculture are not comparable.

According to an economist with the Agriculture Department, Mitch Morehart, the strong growth in agriculture reflected a recovery in production for some crops after a drought in 2012, as well as strong production and rising prices for livestock. This year, he said, it appears that agriculture is not doing nearly as well.

Overall, the report stated that the economies of the 10 states that are most dependent on agriculture grew at an average annual rate of 3.4 percent in 2013, while the 10 states that are least dependent on the farm economy grew at an average rate of 1.3 percent.

According to the report, “California is by far the largest agricultural producer, accounting for $46.7 billion, or 17 percent of the total national agricultural output of $269.1 billion. But the state is so large that agriculture makes up only 2.1 percent of its output, less than 16 other states. Iowa, ranked second in dollar value at $16.1 billion, depends on agriculture for almost 10 percent of its total economic output”.

The 2013 surge in agriculture ended a string of three years in which that sector did not do as well as the U.S. economy. But since 1998, agriculture outperformed the rest of the economy in nine of the 15 years.

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