Livestock production brings economic boost

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COLUMBIA, Mo. – In Missouri, counties where animal agriculture increased from 1987 to 2002 experienced greater growth in economic activity and tax revenues than did counties with no increase in animal agriculture.
According to a recent University of Missouri analysis of all Missouri counties, 48 of the state’s top 50 counties by agricultural receipts increased those receipts during the 15-year period because of livestock production.
“The number of cropland acres harvested in Missouri is declining, yet the total value of agricultural products sold is increasing,” said Ray Massey, agricultural economist. “Most of this increase is from livestock sales.”
Example. Using the counties of Carroll, Pettis and Vernon as a case study, Massey illustrated the impact of livestock production.
In 1987, these three counties all had about the same number of farms and acres in production, and the market value of agricultural products sold in each county was similar, Massey said.
In the 1990s, more livestock moved into Pettis and Vernon counties in the form of poultry and hog production, while Carroll County remained a crop-producing county, he said.
“By 2002, the differences were significant.”
In 1987, the market value of agricultural products in Carroll County was $52.6 million; by 2002, that total had grown to $61.8 million.
In Pettis County, the market value of agricultural products in 1987 was $52.8 million. With the addition of poultry production, that total grew to nearly $102 million in 2002.
In Vernon County, increased hog production pushed the market value of ag products from about $33 million in 1987 to more than $80 million in 2002, Massey said.
Local economy. This increase in livestock production also increased local sales tax receipts, he said.
“Sales tax collections in Pettis and Vernon counties increased 100 percent during the 15 years, but only 50 percent in Carroll County. That’s twice as much tax revenue for schools, roads and other public needs.”
Animals over crops. While increases in crop production will occur from technological advances, the rate of growth is much less than for livestock production, Massey said.
“We get about a 1 percent increase in crop yield per acre each year. If you put an animal feeding operation in the same area, you’ll mushroom the economic activity on that land.”
Not all rosy. Massey added that despite the overall benefits and economic impact of livestock production in a county, studies in other states have found that the presence of an animal feeding operation can depress local property values.
Missouri is one of the few states that doesn’t record the sale price of a property as part of the public record in the county office, so data for analysis is unavailable, he said.
“However, studies in other states indicate that the negative impact of animal feeding operations on residential values diminishes quickly with distance.”
Massey estimated that Missouri residences located within one mile of an animal feeding operation might experience a decreased value.

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