South Carolina’s agribusiness industry cluster released an updated economic impact study showing 23 percent growth of the cluster since 2006. The study was prepared by Dr. James London and commissioned by the Palmetto Agribusiness Council (PABC), the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Farm Bureau, and Clemson University Public Service Authorities.
The agribusiness industry cluster impacted South Carolina’s economy to the tune of $41.7 billion in 2013. The direct output of the agribusiness cluster is $26.8 billion, making agribusiness the largest industry cluster in the state. The cluster directly employs 109,141 individuals and supports a total of 212,530 jobs, accounting for 10.5 percent of the state’s workforce. The cluster is diverse, including 60 subsectors of the agriculture industry and 29 subsectors of the forestry industry.
The PABC was organized as the cluster’s leadership organization in 1999. Agribusiness was among the foundational clusters partnering with the SC Council on Competitiveness at its founding to upgrade the quality of the agricultural business environment, improve the average wage and quality of life in South Carolina’s rural areas, and develop a flourishing economy by exploring opportunities for agricultural sustainability.
According to the study, Agribusiness shows a significant increase in receipts for agricultural commodities despite the recession, while forestry has been slower to recover and negatively affected by the drop in the paper market and the influx of Canadian timber. Still, output of the forestry sector has returned to pre-recession levels, and the outlook is favorable as recovery continues.
The study emphasizes the importance to fill gaps in the supply chain to fully realize the potential of the agribusiness industry in South Carolina. In 2009, South Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers issued a ten year goal for South Carolina Agriculture: to reach $50 billion impact by the year 2020. To reach this goal, the report recommends “further integration through locating suppliers of critical components or better integrating existing subsectors to enhance economic performance.”
Click here to watch the press conference held by Governor Haley and Secretary of Agriculture Hugh Weathers to highlight the results.