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Spell seeking aid for farmers

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi farmers are experiencing devastating crop losses due to the record rainfalls during September and October causing crop yields and quality to be severely affected. Current crop conditions show very poor quality and yield for farms which, in some cases, leave farmers only very low discounted prices or total crop loss.

Dr. Lester Spell, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, said “I have requested members of Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Secretary of Agriculture to support legislative measures beyond normal USDA disaster programs to assist Mississippi farmers who have lost all or have lost large portions of their crops severely damaged due to the devastating weather conditions this year.”

Updated crop reports from across the state show producers of a number of crops are feeling the devastating effects. This includes sweet potatoes, cotton, grain sorghum, peanuts, soybeans, rice and corn.

Mississippi State University Agricultural Economists, Dr. John Anderson and Dr. John Michael Riley, have utilized recent crop reports and have estimated current crop losses in Mississippi reaching approximately $485 million. Nearly sixty-four percent of the sweet potato crop valuing more than $39 million is expected to be lost. According to USDA reports, as of Nov. 1, only 38 percent of the crop had been harvested compared to 95 percent at the same time last year. Soybean producers are expected to lose $307 million, which is a 44 percent loss. Nearly half of Mississippi’s cotton crop is expected to be lost. Historically, cotton producers have harvested 90 percent of their crops by Nov. 1 based on a five-year average. As of Nov. 1, only 14 percent had been harvested.

“Existing USDA assistance for many of these crops will not be available for up to a year or more. By that time, I fear many of our hardworking Mississippi farmers will no longer be able to operate due to the excessive losses faced this year which will, in turn, affect their access to financing for the future,” said Spell.

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