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Agriculture retains economic stronghold

MBJ Editorial

Mississippi State University’s Office of Agricultural Communications has released its annual report on Mississippi agriculture. While this information is preliminary, it does provide an accurate picture of what went right and what went wrong for ag production in 1999.

The report takes a big picture approach to analyzing commodities produced in the Magnolia State, along with a breakdown of specific segments of the ag economy, like timber and poultry. What did the writers and editors at MSU discover? Plenty. Some good. Some bad. All of it is relevant to Mississippi business.

Despite a rough year by all accounts, the state’s total value of farm and forest production in 1999 is expected to approach $5 billion — a remarkable sum considering depressed market prices and a challenging growing season for a number of crops.

According to the MSU Ag Communications report, Mississippi’s total commodities, which include poultry, forestry, crops, catfish and livestock, have been estimated to have a market value of more than $4.6 billion for 1999, a decrease of approximately 2% from 1998. Anticipated government payments are expected to raise total gross receipts to just over

$5 billion.

“When all the indirect and secondary affects are taken into account, agriculture and forestry account for more than 26% of the Mississippi economy,” said Dr. John Lee, head of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University. “No other sector in the state’s economy can claim that much economic impact.”

Agribusiness — even at its high-tech best — is still the heart and soul of Mississippi culture. While the state’s economy is increasingly diverse, we’ll always be tied to the land — for better or worse.

Here’s hoping that 2000 will be a year of success for Mississippi’s farmers, ranchers and growers.

Additional details are online at http://ext.msstate.edu/ppe/news/news/agnews/agnews.htm. The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is on the Web at http://www.mdac.state.ms.us.

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