The US food industry, which employs roughly half of all US workers, has long been the subject of intense criticism.
The US is the only major economy in the world that relies on imported food for a majority of its consumption, with much of the bulk of the nation’s food consumed on the East Coast.
However, many have pointed to a discrepancy between the number of workers employed in food production and the amount of food that is consumed by the country.
A recent report by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that the US government estimated the food sector contributed to US gross domestic product (GDP) by $5 trillion in 2016, an amount that was nearly $1.5 trillion more than the number reported by the USDA.
“That’s a big number.
But it’s a little misleading,” said Michael Pollan, an associate professor of food policy at the University of California-Berkeley and co-author of the report.”
The real figure is $1 trillion less than the total $5.2 trillion that food is accounted for in the economy,” Pollan told Al Jazeera.”
In other words, that’s about a tenth of the total GDP of the United States.”
Pollan said there were two main reasons for the discrepancy between these figures.
One was that the USDA counted as “foreign-made” the products produced by countries that did not have US certification.
This meant the food produced in these countries was not counted as American, and so the US was not receiving the full value of the product.
In the second case, the USDA added foreign-made items to the list of goods that were not counted by the US, but were still counted as part of the country’s economy.
“It’s not true that the food industry contributes $1,000 billion more to the economy than the US produces,” Pollen said.
Pollan noted that the discrepancy was most apparent in the dairy industry, where the United State produces about one-third of the world’s milk.
This contributes $200 billion to the GDP of all countries that export dairy products.
“This is a big problem for the dairy producers,” Pollin said.
“The US dairy industry is in the bottom third of global dairy production.
It’s going to be really hard to turn this around if the US imports dairy products from Canada or Mexico.”
According to the US Agriculture Department, the food and agriculture sectors collectively employ roughly half the countrys workforce.
The US Department of Agriculture, however, reported that the overall US workforce was 4.3 million in 2016.
The report cited a study from the Brookings Institution that found that a study by the International Labour Organization found that, based on the average wage of an American worker, a US-owned dairy farm produces $7,400 in profit per worker per year.
“If the US economy was doing well, it would have $1-trillion more in gross domestic products,” Pollans said.
The issue has also been raised by the agriculture industry, with some experts arguing that the industry could have more to contribute to the national economy than it has.
According to a report from the National Association of Manufacturers, US agriculture accounts for less than 1 percent of the overall economy.
The USDA’s estimates are likely to change in the future, and experts say the current estimate of $5 billion in 2016 could change significantly.
“We’ll have to see how it turns out to be a more accurate number,” Pollingan said.