Treat and Promote Agriculture as an Important State Industry Cluster

Who can implement this: State lawmakers, universities, governmental organizations, and advocacy organizations

Establishing agriculture as an industry cluster in Utah would emphasize its importance to the state’s economy and better connect farmers to resources and other support. As a result, the agriculture industry will become more sustainable and economically feasible.

The purpose of industry clusters is described by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development as follows: “With the Utah Strategic Industry Clusters, Utah works to create sustainable advantages around emerging (and mature) sectors by combining and aligning a wide variety of business interests, including: industry experts, research universities, capital, fresh technology, and environmental concerns.”[1] Agriculture is an important industry in Utah, and the economic impacts of agriculture are dramatic. According to a 2011 Utah State University study, the agricultural processing and production sectors together account for $17.5 billion in total economic output after adjusting for multiplier effects. The two agriculture sectors account for about 78,000 jobs and 14.1 percent of total state output.[2] Having a cluster would show the state’s economic and legislative leaders that the state considers agriculture to be a viable, lucrative, and important business sector in Utah.


  • Agricultural experts from universities, state agricultural organizations, the farming industry, and advocacy organizations need to educate elected officials and governments on the importance of agriculture to the state's economy because clusters are established based on what these decision makers see as core strengths of the state’s economy.
  • It is recommended that existing state-level organizations like the Utah Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency offices, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development promote agriculture as a state industry cluster. State universities should also teach Utahns about the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy.
  • Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and other economic and development organizations should use the following six-step procedure, or a suitable equivalent, to create and implement industry clusters:[3]
    • Investigate: Analyze local and national trends, perform outreach to verify data, and select clusters that have the most potential for growth.
    • Inventory: Define the cluster specifically and inventory organizations and institutions important to the cluster, key leaders in the industry, and policies and practices that affect the cluster.
    • Convene: Review and confirm the cluster’s focus and scope; identify the needs, opportunities, and obstacles the cluster faces; and identify areas of strong mutual interest among stakeholders.
    • Diagnose: Synthesize findings into a market analysis, select strategic interventions, and develop an action plan with stakeholders.
    • Act: Establish clear expectations for cluster partners, allow leadership to emerge, and implement the identified interventions.
    • Evaluate: Analyze how well the interventions achieved their goals, including how well the interventions created job growth in the cluster, and explore possibilities for additional interventions and strategies.


One of Oregon’s core business clusters is agriculture. Oregon estimates agriculture provides 1 of every 8 jobs in the state and makes up 15% of the state’s economy. The establishment of agriculture as an industry cluster has allowed Oregon to research agriculture’s economic weaknesses and strengths and create initiatives to protect and encourage the state’s agricultural businesses in the future.[4]