AUBURN, Ala.—Agriculture, forestry and related industries contribute $70.4 billion–nearly 40 percent—to Alabama’s gross state product. Proponents of a new strategic plan would like to see agriculture’s impact on the state’s economy grow even larger by 2020.
The plan from the Alabama Agriculture & Forestry Steering Committee calls for a more cooperative relationship between business and government. Alabama Extension Director Gary Lemme said the plan if enacted fully, would help create as many as 58,000 new jobs in Alabama and add $7 billion to the state’s economy by 2020.
“These are achievable goals,” said Lemme. “What we are talking about is expanding the agriculture and forestry component of the state’s economy by 2 percent every year for the next five years.”
“Continuous improvement and growth requires commitment to innovation and visionary leadership. Complacency is our greatest enemy.”
Lemme who served on the Steering Committee called the plan a grassroots effort.
Agriculture & Industries Commissioner John McMillan said that both the steering committee and groups representing the entire spectrum of Alabama’s agriculture and forestry industries spent hundreds of hours developing and refining the plan.
“By focusing our efforts and working in unison with one another, these goals, which may seem ambitious, can be achieved,” McMillan said. “We have taken the first critical step of uniting behind a specific set of goals, objectives and action items that are critical to agriculture and forestry.”
Governor Robert Bentley has reiterated his commitment to work in unison with farmers, foresters and small businesses allied with their industries in helping to achieve their goals.
“This Strategic Plan provides a clear and concise direction of improving the lives of Alabama’s working families through economic expansion,” said Bentley.
Key Elements of Strategic Plan
Lemme said the strategic plan outlines important elements vital to future growth in the agriculture and forestry industry.
- Fostering capital investment
- Developing a quality workforce
- Ensuring freedom to operate
- Maintaining transportation infrastructure
- Expanding markets and trade
- Strengthening the land grant mission
- Promoting economic development with state agency collaboration
“Alabama Extension conducted an economic impact study in 2013. That study showed us just how large an economic engine agriculture and forestry are in the state. The strategic plan is a natural outgrowth of that study and will help us ensure that agriculture and forestry continue to grow the state’s economy.”
“The Strategic Plan to Grow Alabama’s Agriculture, Agribusiness, Forestry and Forest Products Industries – 2015-2020” is available online. To learn more, go to www.AlabamaStrategicPlan.com .