The economic impact of agriculture is often overlooked when thinking of thriving industries in Nevada.
The agriculture industry in Nevada provided an economic impact of $1.8 billion in 2015, according to a 2017 report by the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The livestock production industry alone provided an economic impact of $755 million. The livestock production industry includes sectors such as the cattle and calf industry and the dairy and milk production industry.
“Cow-calf is the largest part of the animal industry sector which represents about 75 percent of the production in the state of Nevada,” Jim Barbee, director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA), said.
Nevada has a large amount of rangeland that cattle can take advantage of since it is largely a federally owned state. Additionally, the market prices for the cattle and calf industry are trending up.
“Since 2010, we have seen a dramatic increase in the market value of cattle,” Barbee said.
The report shows that the value of inventory in 2015 was $748 million compared to just $414 million in 2010. Barbee said that there will be a large expansion of cattle in the state in the near future.
“We (are seeing) much more expansion largely due to (the fact) that we are in a much better place relative to our water resources in the state,” Barbee said.
He explained that exports in the cattle industry are also expected to increase as China recently reopened their markets to American cattle exports.
“Nebraska is headed out on a trade mission to China in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “… and those Nebraska cattle are Nevada cattle.”
Cattle produced in Nevada are typically shipped out of state for processing. Barbee explained that calves typically go to California in the fall and winter to take advantage of the grasslands, come back to Nevada in the spring on the rangeland as yearlings before going onto feedlots in states such as Idaho, Colorado and Nebraska.
The total economic contribution of the cattle and calf industry in Nevada was estimated at $642 million in 2015. The sector also provided 3,431 jobs and for each job created it supports additional jobs.
“Every 10 jobs that we have in this industry creates another 12 jobs in those communities that are a result of that economic impact,” he added.
Technology is also increasingly playing a larger role in Nevada agriculture.
Barbee explained that the NDA created its own online inspection program that allows their staff to quickly access and input information. They have been implementing the technology over the past three years and the program is currently 85 percent implemented. Barbee said that they expect to have it fully implemented by the end of the year.
“The great thing about (this technology) is that it helps us provide economic information more accurately because we are able to more accurately define the number of cattle that are in the state and the number of cattle that are shipped out of state,” he said.
The dairy and milk production industry is another sector within the livestock production industry that has a significant impact on the Nevada economy.
“Our milkshed is very important to the economy,” Anna Vickrey, the Nevada Department of Agriculture Food Safety Lab operations manager, said.
According to the report, the sector provided an economic impact of $103 million to the Nevada economy in 2015. The sector also provided 460 jobs and had an employment multiplier of 2.3.
“For every ten jobs within the dairy industry you are creating another 13 jobs,” Vickrey explained.
She explained that NDA’s role within the dairy sector is to protect the industry through testing inspections and promotions.
“Our mission here at the Department of Agriculture is to promote and protect the agriculture industry,” Barbee said.
The department employs approximately 130 to 140 full-time employees and hundreds of seasonal employees across the various agriculture sectors.
To read the full 2017 Economic Analysis report, visit http://agri.nv.gov/.