Agricultural trade provides significant contributions to both the agricultural and nonagricultural sectors of the U.S. economy, supporting $280.5 billion in economic output and 1.6 million jobs in 2009 according to “National and Regional Impacts of U.S. Agricultural Exports,” an article published in the latest edition of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s online magazine, Choices.

Throughout the economic downturn, the agricultural industry remained a steady source of income and jobs in the U.S. With record exports in 2010, the agricultural trade sector earned a surplus of nearly $34 billion while nonfarm sectors of the economy suffered deficits of over $668 billion.

Despite this disparity, nonagricultural sectors – such as food processing and transportation – also benefit from the agricultural trade industry, which generates output, employment and income. “Agricultural trade provides a significant contribution to the U.S. agricultural economy and creates positive effects throughout the nonfarm sectors of economy, as well,” say authors Mechel S. Paggi, C. Parr Rosson, III, Flynn J. Adcock and Daniel Hanselka.

The article discusses the distribution of agricultural output throughout different regions of the U.S. based on market demand and location of the most highly valued crops. In 2009, the Midwestern U.S. saw the largest economic gains from agriculture, in part due to its production of in-demand crops like feed grains and oilseeds.

The authors go on to point out that under pending agricultural trade agreements with countries like Korea, Colombia and Panama the U.S. could see more economic gains in the future.