A new study says agriculture still is Missouri's top economic industry.
For many years, there's been a usually friendly debate among agriculture and tourism leaders about which industry is most important to the state's economy.
The new study, released last week, was commissioned by the state Agriculture department and the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Among its findings: Agricultural products "brought in a whopping $88.4 billion in revenue" in 2016, and agricultural jobs employed more than 378,232 people, "who earned a collective $17.5 billion in labor income."
Agriculture employment is 10.5 percent of Missouri's total number of jobs, the report said, and the $17.5 billion in labor income is 9.3 percent of Missouri's total.
The report said agricultural companies also contributed $2.2 billion in state and local taxes, and $4 billion in federal taxes.
"While crops amounted for a hefty portion of revenue, the biggest contributing industry was food and related products manufacturing," a news release said..
The report found that Missouri's breweries were the top economic contributors, "raking in nearly $3 billion, with oilseed production and pet food manufacturing rounding out the top three, coming in at just over $2 billion each."
The study noted Missouri consistently ranks as one of the top performing agricultural economies in the nation.
In 2015, the Show-Me State ranked 13th in the U.S. for gross profit, and the state ranks in the top-five states for the number of farms, biodiesel production, beef production, turkey inventory and rice acres harvested.
The 30-page report — which can be seen online at agriculture.mo.gov/economicimpact —provides a number of charts and graphs showing how agriculture has changed in Missouri over the years.
The online version also has an interactive feature for people interested in county-by-county, or congressional district, statistics on agriculture's economic contributions.
For example, Cole County agriculture had $376.9 million in sales and 2,492 jobs providing $72.4 million in labor income and paying $23.0 million in taxes.
In Callaway County, there were $179.3 million in sales and 2,100 jobs earning $46.0 million in labor income and paying $11.8 million in taxes.
In Moniteau County, the report shows $400.6 million in sales, with 1,933 jobs earning $67.5 million and paying $23.3 million in taxes.
In Miller County, the 2016 statistics were $151.8 million in sales and 1,563 jobs earning $45.6 million and paying $14.2 million in taxes.
And in Osage County, the report showed $391.5 million in sales, with 1,727 jobs earning $47.3 million and paying $18.3 million in taxes.
The report also provided an outlook for future agricultural possibilities in the state.
It noted that, due to growing consumer interest in locally-grown produce, fruit and vegetable production will be in demand.
And produce farming provides a good opportunity for a new generation of farmers to get their start, especially with produce farms generally having a smaller geographic footprint.