Animal health, production in St. Joseph, MO, ranks fourth in U.S. metro ag economies

According to a recent analysis of the largest agriculture centers in the U.S., St. Joseph, MO, ranked fourth due to its strength in animal production and its location as part of what is marketed as the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

The rankings, which were published in a blog by Forbes magazine contributors Joel Kotkin and Mark Schill, ranked the 124 largest metropolitan ag economies in the country based on short- and long-term growth in almost 70 agriculture-related industries that included food processing and manufacturing, wholesaling and farm equipment. The rankings also included average earnings in those farm communities, earnings growth, and the share of agribusiness in the local workforce.

St. Joseph came in fourth place due to its location along the Missouri-Kansas border, which has become a major center for food processing companies, especially those that process meat, as well as for the development and production of animal pharmaceuticals, the authors said.

The city is part of what has been dubbed the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor that runs from Columbia, MO, to Manhattan, KS, and where almost one-third of the estimated $19 billion global animal health industry is located, More than 300 animal health companies, including recent additions like Integrated Animal Health (IAH), Prommune, and Parnell Pharmaceutical Holdings ($PARN), are located along the corridor.

Other Midwest areas known for their animal and crop production included Grand Island, NE (ranked 11), Evansville, IN (ranked 12), and Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA (ranked 14). The No. 1-ranked area was Madera, CA. According to the analysis, 6 of the top 10 on the list are located in California.

Based on their data, the authors said all-inclusive areas of agriculture, which includes factories, laboratories and distribution, accounts for 3.75 million jobs in the U.S. That's compared to about 4.3 million in the tech sector. Net farm income, according to preliminary USDA numbers cited in the story, was $108 billion last year, up 24% from 2004.

- check out the Forbes blog