After watching recent election results and the legal and political wrangling, we Americans should never again doubt the value of our vote. Razor-thin margins and recounts show the power of an individual choice.

Individual choices are powerful in agriculture, too. A single venture has greater impact than we realize. One poultry manure-fired power plant in Benson is expected to create 30 jobs, dozens of spin-off jobs and generate more than $8 million for the local economy. One average dairy farm supports 5 or 6 jobs in production, processing and marketing. Retail spending from that income creates at least one more job.

Add it all up and the Minnesota dairy industry generates more than 53,000 jobs, according to a University of Minnesota study. With over $1 billion in income to dairy producers and processors and nearly $1 billion to spin-off industries, the dairy industry is a huge contributor to the state’s economy.

The U of M study shows the state’s poultry industry is responsible for more than 26,000 jobs — 10,000 in production and processing and over 16,000 in spin-off industries. Those 26,000 people earned more than $900 million in income during 1996.

Agricultural industries do not just impact agriculture. A grain producer impacts grain elevators, truckers, cereal producers, retailers and many others. This ripple effect is evidence that many industries are tied to agriculture’s success whether they know it or not.

Value-added agriculture accounts for about $22 billion of the state’s economy each year. This not only includes the value of raw commodities and processing, but also the jobs and spin-off industries reliant on those value-added enterprises.

That is why AURI supports new and innovative uses for farm commodities. Every individual enterprise ripples into more income, more jobs and more value for the state.