With a long, hot summer dragging to an end, the Mississippi Business Journal takes a look at agribusiness in this week’s special editorial focus.
Our writers have talked to folks involved in every aspect of ag production, and not surprisingly, all is not well. Devastating weather, anticipated low prices and confusion over federal assistance have set up 1999 as a record-setting bad year.
Farmers, the ones still left – just barely hanging on – want answers. How can they continue to plant, harvest and sell commodities or raise livestock when prices won’t even cover their basic costs? What happens to the consumer when large, multinational conglomos control every aspect of food production? What is the cost to Mississippi business when there aren’t any small farmers working – and buying supplies and services?
These tough questions don’t have any easy answers, but as Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell Jr., points out, “When we reach the point when we are not supporting agriculture, ultimately American consumers will lose. Most people don’t realize that if we continue to lose farmers, the price will go up as a result of less supply.”
Perhaps when we’re hit in the belly, Americans will realize that despite Farm Aid, despite legislation, the farm crisis that has ravaged the country and Mississippi, is not going away, and ultimately, it’s up to us to find a solution.