In an evolving environment that continues to bring change and challenges to Arizona's food and fiber industries, the economic contribution of Arizona agriculture swelled to $9.2 billion, according to a just-released 2004-based statistical study by the University of Arizona.

The $9.2 billion figure is nearly 40 percent higher than the $6.6 billion value based on a similar UA study that used year 2000 numbers. The UA's Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics compiled both study results.

“While agriculture in Arizona continues to experience a super flux of changes, the 2004 data reaffirms that Arizona agriculture is a growth business producing a bounty of the highest quality food and fiber products at affordable prices,” said Kevin Rogers of Mesa, and president of the Arizona Farm Bureau.

The more recent study indicated the financial benefit produced by agriculture for every Arizonan in 2004 was $1,550, compared to $1,200 in 2000. The new study said Arizona agriculture created 74,500 in 2004, compared to almost 73,000 in 2000.

“These new figures directly link agriculture as a major player in the prosperity of local and state economies. We deserve respect for our efficiencies, productivity and value,” Rogers said.

According to the UA, three major reasons led to the $2.6 billion increase between the two studies including higher prices for milk and beef, a continued increase in Arizona milk production and the increased value of lettuce and other vegetables.