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By Sam Fahmy, Jordan Powers for CAES News

The top of Conner Hall, the CAES administrative building, with blue skies beyond
In 2021, UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences generated an economic impact of $686.3 million, divided between teaching ($241.3 million), research ($182.3 million) and outreach ($262.6 million) in the report.

A recent university-wide report authored by University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) economist Michael Adjemian has revealed that in 2021, CAES’ economic impact on the state of Georgia was the highest since UGA began publishing the annual report in 2015.

CAES generated an economic impact of $686.3 million last year, divided between teaching ($241.3 million), research ($182.3 million) and outreach ($262.6 million) in the report.

The total economic impact is the third-highest of any college or unit at UGA, which set a record with an annual economic impact of $7.4 billion in 2021.

“The University of Georgia, and CAES specifically, provides state residents with significant value through its teaching, research and outreach missions,” said Adjemian, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

A record-setting year

“We estimate that CAES’ economic impact this year is its highest since the university began publishing a report in 2015,” said Adjemian and Sharon Kane, agribusiness and community development economist with the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED), in a joint statement. “Our college brings in more research dollars and offers more beneficial outreach services than at any time on record.”

To estimate the economic impact figures, Adjemian calculates the benefits to the state of Georgia that CAES offers through its teaching, research and outreach missions.

“Teaching our students confers improvements in human capital — life skills — that will increase their productivity and lifetime income. The most straightforward method to approximate (a lower bound on) CAES research benefits is to measure the amount of funding our researchers bring into the state,” they said. “Because outreach programs have different features, we need to consider how each one might help state residents.”

For example, when researchers discover an improved crop variety that increases yields, reduces pests or disease, or garners a higher price at market, the network of specialists throughout Georgia inform producers for their practical use. Once adopted, this improved variety produces increased efficiency, enhanced quality or improves profitability for farmers, adding value to the Georgia economy.

Serving Georgias 159 counties

Sharon Kane (left) and Michael Adjemian
Economists Sharon Kane (left) and Michael Adjemian estimate that CAES’ economic impact in 2021 was its highest since the university began reporting in 2015.

UGA’s status as the state’s flagship land- and sea-grant institution means that contributing to the economic vitality and well-being of Georgia citizens and communities is an integral part of its mission.

UGA Cooperative Extension agents serve each of Georgia’s 159 counties, providing reliable, research-based information across the state through science-based programs and educational opportunities in agriculture, the environment, family well-being, and 4-H youth development and leadership.

In fiscal year 2021, UGA Extension agents had 1.2 million in-person contacts with people across the state, launching partnered initiatives to provide vaccine education; offering health, wellness and financial security programs; and addressing supply chain issues by connecting producers with consumers.

Georgia 4-H served more than 97,000 youth statewide over the same period, both virtually and in person.

“In leading this school-wide economic impact report, I’ve had the chance to learn so much about the university and all the great work we do as educators, researchers and outreach professionals,” Adjemian said. “Because we are careful to include only what we can safely defend, we leave a lot of beneficial activities out of the report. The figures we publish should really be viewed as a lower bound estimate … It’s likely that the true impact is substantially higher.”

To learn more about CAES research and its impact in the state of Georgia, visit caes.uga.edu.

For more information on UGA Extension’s outreach across the state, visit extension.uga.edu.

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