Agriculture makes up just 1.5 per cent of Palmerston North's gross domestic product, but underpins a great deal of the city's economic activity in ways that are hard to measure.
The city council has released a profile of the role of agriculture in the Manawatu to help measure its significance and issues.
Agriculture contributed an estimated $348 million in regional GDP in 2011, $268m directly, and $80m indirectly.
It made up 25 per cent of Manawatu District's GDP, but just 1.5 per cent of the city's.
Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said the figures underestimated agriculture's importance to the city through a range of other businesses.
Manufacturing in the city had a strong agricultural flavour, many jobs in wholesaling and transport dealt with agricultural products, shops and business services drew customers from a wide rural catchment, while research organisations employing 2360 people had a strong focus on agricultural research.
Massey University had strengths in land-based science teaching and research, its range of qualifications, and the only veterinary science programme in New Zealand.
Mr Naylor said improving terms of trade for agriculture had brought clear benefits for the city and contributed to its stronger economic and population growth over the last 10 years.
Economic policy adviser Peter Crawford said the economic profile recognised the environmental challenges facing agriculture. The profile adds to those already done that cover defence, logistics, manufacturing, tourism, research, not-for-profit groups and government agencies.
- Manawatu Standard
The lower drink-driving limits from December are:Related story: Drink-drive limits lowered