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The impact of agribusiness on Parmer County

Parmer County’s agricultural value exceeds $604.9 million.

The 4,065 agricultural related employees account for 86.5% of all private sector employment.

Parmer County ranks third in overall cash receipts, 2nd in ensilage, 3rd in dairy, and 7th in corn, fed beef and cow-calf/stockers receipts among all Texas counties.

The county ranks 4th nationally in the value of cattle sales and 12th in overall value of livestock, poultry and other products.

This analysis does not include the impact of agriculturally related public sector employees or the 796 farm and ranch operators.

Most of Parmer County’s 882 square mile land area is used for agricultural purposes, with 437,000 acres under cultivation and another 124,000 acres in pasture. Crop production is an important part of the local economy, generating an average of $153.2 million annually over the 2008-2011 time period. Approximately 175,000 irrigated acres provide flexibility with respect to the type of crops that can be grown in the county. Parmer County ranks 2nd among Texas counties in ensilage production, 7th in, 9th in hay, and 12th in sorghum. Corn sales lead crop receipts, with $46.4 million average annual sales from 2008-2011. The county also produces $10.4 million in other crops which include vegetables.

The county has more than three times as many acres in cropland than in pasture, but the value of livestock sales is greater than crop receipts. Over one third, $124.5 million, of the $352.4 million in livestock receipts are from fed beef. In fact, Parmer County ranked 7th in cash receipts from fed beef among Texas counties and 4th in cattle sales nationally, according to the 2007 census of agriculture. The county’s dairy industry added $152.2 million in cow-calf and stocker operations contributed $58 million in agricultural receipts, ranking 3rd and 7th, respectively among all Texas counties. Parmer County also ranks 17th in in other livestock production. Almost all of the $17.5 million can be attributed to a growing poultry operation in the county.

Of course, the direct value of agricultural production is not the only benefit to the local economy. Many production expenses are paid to local suppliers. Farmers and ranchers also spend part of their wages and profits in the county eating at local restaurants and buying groceries, clothing, etc. In turn, the employees of these businesses purchase supplies and spend wages at local businesses. As money circulates through the economy, it multiplies the original $505.6 million economic contribution from farm and ranch production to a total county-level economic output of $646.2 million. A good deal of the money that is spent outside of Parmer County is still spent in Texas, so the farmer level production leads to a larger state-level output of almost $1.1 billion.

Agribusinesses take many forms including: manufacturing, retail trade and food service, wholesale trade, agricultural services and transportation. A total of 2,143 people were employed in Parmer County agribusiness during 2007 with an associated payroll of $61.9 million according to the 2007 Texas County Business Patterns publication. In addition, 1,922 people were either employed full or part-time on local farms, ranches, and confined livestock operations earning $24.6 million annually. It should be noted that the impact of agriculture on the Parmer County economy is underestimated, since the economic contributions of the public sector employees working in agriculture and the 796 farm and ranch operators are not considered.