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Poultry hangs on to first place

STARKVILLE — Each year for the past decade, poultry has ruled the roost as Mississippi’s top crop, and 2009 is no exception, according to a report from the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Poultry ended the year with a total value of $2.3 billion, a 3 percent drop from the $2.37 billion posted in 2008. Broiler production, the largest segment of the industry, weighed in at $2.15 billion for 2009, while egg production was valued at $140.7 million and chickens at $5 million.

The largest decline in value within the different industry segments was egg production, which dropped 21 percent from $179 million in 2008. Broiler value dropped by less than 2 percent from 2008, and the value of chicken production fell only 4 percent from the previous year.

“The decline in value stems from a price drop for table eggs,” said agricultural economist John Michael Riley of the Extension Service. “Egg prices have declined about 25 percent from what they were in September, but 2008’s egg prices were much higher. The 2009 decline seems drastic when compared with 2008, but it is not as dramatic a drop as we have seen in previous years.”

Mississippi Poultry Association president Mark Leggett said producers and growers used knowledge from previous production years to make smart decisions in 2009.

“Gasoline and grain prices were really high in 2008, and many producers and growers struggled through it,” Leggett said. “That allowed them to approach 2009 cautiously, and that approach has paid off.”

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