COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – According to findings from a new analysis released Monday, the agribusiness industry has a $51.8 billion economic impact on South Carolina each year.

State leaders said this exceeds a goal they set in 2009 to grow the economic impact of agribusiness to $50 billion by 2020. They called it the ’50 by 20 plan’.

South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said, “We didn’t reach this goal by accident; it took collaboration, strategic planning, and a lot of hard work. From farmers to foresters, from poultry plants to paper mills, from turfgrass to high-tech tractor repair, agribusiness has an enormous impact on South Carolina, and we’re proud of it.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, over the last decade they worked with their partners to expand the Certified South Carolina program, created the Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE), and developed new expansion and export opportunities to grow South Carolina agribusinesses.

“It’s no surprise to anyone who’s paying attention that the agribusiness industry has achieved this important milestone,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “Over the years, South Carolina’s economy has changed and grown dramatically, but our farmers and others in the agribusiness industry have been a constant and have always helped lead the way.”

“Agribusiness has long been a pillar of South Carolina’s economy, and its contribution is continuing to grow,” said Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist with the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business and author of the study. “The industry expanded by 40 percent between 2010 and 2020.”

State leaders added that there is room for growth in the agribusiness sector in South Carolina. The analysis showed the state currently imports $11.7 billion in agribusiness products from outside of the Palmetto State. Officials said if this demand were captured by in-state operations, it would increase the total value of agribusiness by 23%.

Commissioner Weathers said to incentivize investment, SCDA is asking the General Assembly to set aside $75 million in this upcoming year’s budget to establish a Growing Agribusiness fund.

According to the report, the agribusiness business industry is responsible for 259,215 jobs and $12.3 billion in annual labor income in the state.

You can read the full study on the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s website.