Researchers found that crop production alone generated over $12 billion dollars in 2010 and that over 103,000 people are either directly or indirectly employed in agricultural jobs in this region.
"I think the numbers sort of speak for themselves," said agricultural expert Darren Hudson.
Hudson and a Texas Tech Research team are putting on paper what many folks in the South Plains have known for years.
"Roughly 20% of the employment in this region can be attributed to the Ag sector," said Hudson.
To put these numbers in perspective, the economic contribution of the agriculture sector, including crops and livestock, is between $24 and $25 billion each year. Texas Tech University's annual contribution is $1.5 billion, and the medical industry is $3 to $4 billion.
"You can see that agriculture is the big driving force of the economy in the Panhandle and we need to do the things to insure that is stable for our area, because that's our area's life blood," said Plains Cotton Growers Chairman Heffington.
Plains Cotton Growers held a press conference announcing these findings Tuesday morning. Heffington says this research will be instrumental in planning water usage policy.
"Water not only grows our crops, it grows our economy. I've heard economists say that without irrigation our region could only support 2/3 of the jobs that already exist," said Heffington.
Producers at the meeting today said they have been working on new water usage policy for a while now. They say they're hoping this research will help them find a way to use water efficiently without sacrificing jobs or economic growth for the region.