The constant and appropriate drumbeat for new manufacturing, industrial and other commercial economic development in Mississippi tends to focus attention away from our state's hugely important agri-business sector, which reached a record-high value of mor

By NEMS Daily Journal

The constant and appropriate drumbeat for new manufacturing, industrial and other commercial economic development in Mississippi tends to focus attention away from our state’s hugely important agri-business sector, which reached a record-high value of more than $6.7 billion for 2011.
Mississippi State University’s Office of Agricultural Communications reported late in 2011 that the total crop and commodities value, including federal subsidies, bumped $7 billion, further establishing the record value.
Dennis Seid’s reporting in Sunday’s edition about corn crop expectations, weather and market prices for 2012 offered a reminder that in Northeast Mississippi, which is relatively heavily industrialized, farm production remains a key economic factor.
Extension agricultural economist John Michael Riley said the 2011 record is a result of high yields and strong market prices for most commodities in 2011.
Mississippi State, which is a land grant university with the state’s largest school of agriculture, reported the state’s top three commodities remain poultry and eggs ($2.44 billion), forestry ($1.04 billion) and soybeans ($860 million).
Wheat, corn, grain sorghum and cotton all showed large increases in value during 2011. In sum, crops totaled $2.66 billion. Add catfish, all categories of livestock, and government payments and the total hits $7.024 billion.
The state’s gross domestic product in 2011, all the goods and services produced by the private and public sectors, fell slightly to $84.3 billion, below the peak of $87.1 billion in 2007, the Mississippi Business Journal reported.
John M. Riley, the MSU agricultural economist who is a chief analyst of the state’s agri-business production, forecasts higher “corn, grain sorghum, peanut, wheat and hay acres” and lower cotton rice, soybean, and sweet potato acres. The biggest jump, he has written, is wheat acres.
“Wheat plantings in the fall of 2011 were 120,000 above the year prior at 480,000 total. Corn acres are projected to increase by 90,000 which would put total acres at 900,000. As was the case across the U.S., peanut acres in the state are expected to have the largest percentage increase (up 233 percent) but account for 35,000 total increased acres. Peanut plantings are expected to be at 50,000 acres, compared to 15,000 last year.”
As Seid’s reporting on corn farming in the region indicated, prices are lower this year than last for some crops, and weather always is a factor.
Nevertheless, everything that grows in Mississippi that’s harvestable and in some way consumable is a big positive for our state and the farming sector when a good crop’s made.