Measuring the economic impact of agriculture in Clay County

Measuring the economic impact of agriculture in Clay County

By Melanie Musselman 

Dispatch Staff

 

All of us who grew up in Kansas remember in grade school learning all the state symbols which make our great state unique. One of these well-known monikers is the “Wheat State.” According to the August 20th Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Economic Contribution Report, our state also continues to be a leader in grain sorghum and beef production. These figures are based on data gleaned from the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. The US Census of Agriculture is measured every five years.

At a glance, in Kansas, there are approximately 58,569 farms on 45,759,319 acres. This represents 87.5% of all Kansas land. The average farm size is 781 acres. Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas, valued at nearly $65.7 billion in 2017. 

The agriculture sector in Kansas employs more than 254,000 people through direct, indirect and induced effect careers, or almost 13% of the entire workforce in the state. More than 21 million acres in Kansas are harvested for crops and over 14 million is pasture land for grazing animals.

Breaking the report down even more, here in Clay County, there are approximately 547 farms with 386,077 acres of land in agricultural use. The average farm size in the county is 706 acres down from the state average. There are 258 farms from 50 to 499 acres in size which is 47% of the total reported. 

So just how much does agriculture contribute to our county’s economy? The KDA report describes the significance in terms of output and the number of jobs.

“These reports serve as important information tools for stakeholders and the general public. For 2021, 20 agriculture and agriculture-related sectors directly contribute $215 million in output and 849 jobs to the Clay County economy.”

The number one ag industry in terms of the value of output is grain farming which includes corn, wheat, grain sorghum and rye production. Using rye as a cover crop is becoming increasingly popular in reducing weed growth and conserving moisture in the soil. The next most profitable sector is beef cattle ranching and farming, including feedlots and dual-purpose ranching and farming. Ranking third is oilseed production which is primarily soybeans. According to the 2017 Census in Agriculture for Clay County, the top crop in number of acres is soybeans. Coming in a close fourth, is other animal food or feed manufacturing. 

Even though the 2017 US Census of Agriculture data was just released, preparations have long been underway for the next Census of Agriculture which will be next year. USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service began preparing for the 2022 Ag Census in 2018. 

 

For more details about KDA’s Economic Contribution Report of Agriculture in Clay County or any of the state’s 105 counties, log on to their website at: www.agriculture.ks.gov/ksag