Skip to Main Content

Economic Impacts of Tennessee Agriculture and Forestry

Agriculture and forestry have a profound impact on Tennessee’s economy, the health of our citizens, the beauty of our landscape as well as the quality of our lives. In hundreds of rural communities across our state, agriculture and forestry are the primary drivers of local economic activity. Agriculture and forestry’s impact is also felt throughout the manufacturing, processing, distribution and marketing sectors of our economy. The following economic impact study was developed by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and is presented by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Major findings include:

  • In 2009, agriculture and forestry contributed $71.4 billion to Tennessee's economy.
  • Agriculture and forestry accounted for 14.7 percent of the economic activity within the state.
  • Agriculture and forestry employed more than 363,500 people, or 10.3 percent of the workforce.


This study uses an input-output model reflecting the state’s 2009 economy to determine direct impacts on related input industries, and impacts through resulting expenditures for four major indicators: total industry output, employment, labor income and value-added. The objectives of this analysis are to: 1) provide an overview of Tennessee’s agriculture and forestry resource base, 2) compare livestock and crop statistics for 2006 and 2009, 3) provide an overview of Tennessee's dairy industry, and 4) evaluate the economic importance and impacts of the agricultural and forestry industrial complex, including the bioscience industry, for the state and for specific consumption regions within the state.

This study was conducted by Burton C. English, Ph. D., R. Jamey Menard, M.S., and Kim L. Jensen, Ph.D. of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. The full study can be read at:

Summary of Study Findings

  • In 2009, the agro-forestry industrial complex contributed $71.4 billion to the Tennessee economy, accounting for 14.7 percent of the economic activity conducted within the state, and employed over 363,500 individuals, or 10.3 percent of the total number of workers.
  • Agriculture, a subset of the agro-forestry industrial complex, accounted for 10.4 percent of the state’s economy and generated $50.4 billion in output. Agriculture employed close to 262,000 Tennesseans, with more than 101,000 (both full- and part-time) in agricultural production.
  • Agriculture input supplying industries – agricultural machinery and chemical products – generated nearly $2.5 billion in cash receipts annually.
  • Tennessee farmers earned more than 74.6 percent of their cash receipts from soybeans, broilers, cattle and calves, greenhouse/nursery, corn and cotton.
  • Exports for Tennessee’s forest products outside the United States for 2009 totaled $744.6 million. Paper products had the highest export value at $504.3 million, followed by wood products ($86.5 million), furniture and related products ($81.6 million), and forestry and logging ($72.2 million).
  • Major markets for Tennessee's exports of agricultural and livestock products included Mexico, China, Turkey, Viet Nam, and Indonesia.
  • Tennessee, one of the top hardwood lumber producing states, produced 881.0 million board feet of hardwood lumber and 15.0 million board feet of softwood lumber in 2008.