News Filed Under Agricultural Economics
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If you thought it was hard paying to fill up your car, try buying diesel for a farm tractor to plant crops that may not sell for enough to cover total production costs.
Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said farm fuel prices are running at least 55 percent higher than they did last year. While market prices have improved since last fall enough to soften the blow, crop prices remain below adequate levels.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers are facing some of the lowest prices in 25 years as they harvest crops, many with yields greatly reduced by drought.
Problems from steadily rising production costs and falling prices are magnified by the lack of rain this year. In recent weeks, cotton prices have been as low as 45 cents a pound, soybeans $4.63 per bushel and rice $6 per hundredweight.
Dr. John Lee, ag economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said these prices are significantly lower than prices in recent years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low yields and market problems brought on by Mississippi's weather challenges and Asian economic problems resulted in an estimated 8 percent loss to the state's agriculture's total gross income.
Dr. John Robinson, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said observers should remember 1997 was a record year, and supplies were high going into 1998. The "Asian Flu" resulted in less movement of U.S. products to Pacific Rim countries.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many state producers will remember 1998 as a farming disaster as low market prices compounded yield losses from heat, drought and hurricane.
Corn and soybeans took the biggest hit as low yields matched lower prices. Production value for both fell 32 percent from 1997 even though acreage this year was higher than last.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Turbulent markets, at home and abroad, are giving U.S. farmers more to worry about than the weather.
Economic problems began in 1997 with Asian countries in financial distress, next came this summer's Russian crisis, followed closely by the recent drastic fall of the U.S. stock market. Combine these burdens with the weather challenges farmers faced this summer across the country and the picture is bleak.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A second-year program is educating farmers in how to make good management and marketing decisions under the freedom granted them by the last Farm Bill.
Managing Profitability in Agriculture in Changing Times, developed by Mississippi State University's agricultural economics department, coordinates with MSU's Extension Service to teach farmers how to improve their operation by focusing on the basics.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Few areas of the financial world remained untouched by Asia's economic troubles that started in October, but Mississippi farmers are weathering it well.
Agricultural markets were shaken when Asian stock markets plummeted last fall. Hardest hit were Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan. These countries along the Pacific Rim have traditionally been strong consumers of American grain, cotton and poultry.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Producers with insured crops in South Mississippi damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Georges can get relief for the loss by following the proper claims process.
Dr. John Robinson, ag economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said Mississippi has about 60,000 acres of corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat in the 15 southeastern counties.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's total value of production posted an new record of $4.9 billion, an increase of 3 percent from 1996. Casual observers might think a 3 percent change means little happened in Mississippi's 1997 farm economy.
"Several row crops had significant changes in their total value this year, but that was largely because of planted acreage changes," said Dr. John Robinson, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State poultry producers saw record broiler and egg production with 1997 values up 6 percent to more than $1.43 billion.
Dr. Wallace Morgan, head of Mississippi State University's poultry department, said the state's poultry industry has grown steadily for the last 10 years. Mississippi now ranks No. 4 nationally in broiler production.
"Domestic consumption continues to increase, our exports have been growing very rapidly and Mississippi has been a favored state for growth," Morgan said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The forestry industry continued its record breaking pace in the state, setting its 10th record in 11 years with 1997's estimated value of $1.22 billion.
Dr. Bob Daniels, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University, projected a 3 percent increase over 1996's forestry value. Pine prices and production were up, while hardwood saw a slight price increase and harvest decrease.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- How can Mississippi cotton growers harvest a record 900 pound average and not be enthusiastic about the crop?
1997 was the first year since 1983 that Mississippi cotton growers planted less than 1 million acres, and only the third time since record keeping began in 1866. Growers had governmental incentive to reduce acres in 1983 due to abundant supplies. In 1997, the incentives not to plant cotton came from market prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Like a real roller coaster ride, 1997 left some farmers saying, "Let's go again," and others saying, "No way."
Cold, wet conditions at planting time had row-crop growers struggling to plant fields. As the conditions persisted, the young plants struggled to mature.
"Early season conditions resulted in about 30,000 acres of cotton being destroyed -- mainly in Northeast Mississippi," said Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University.
Growers planted much of the state's cotton later than ideal.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cattle producers struggle to interpret confusing market signals and maintain an efficient farms. Better communication between industry segments could reduce some of the confusion.
Dr. Charlie Forrest, extension marketing specialist at Mississippi State University, said market efficiency in the beef industry has fallen behind other industries.
STARKVILLE -- A second month of record high milk prices are a welcomed reprieve for embattled dairy farmers reeling from months of skyrocketing feed costs.
The record prices and somewhat lower feed costs arrived too late for more than 30 Mississippi dairies that have closed their doors since the first of the year.
Dr. Bill Herndon, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said basic formula prices reached all-time highs in August and September.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Another month closer to closing the books on the 1996 crops and farmers are starting to breathe easier.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released the Sept. 1 crop production forecast which yielded few significant changes from the August report. The similarity in the two reports was a pleasant change from last year, when a late drought and insects sent yield estimates plummeting.
STARKVILLE -- Although farmers continue to be at the mercy of unforeseeable conditions, a recent report released on the eve of harvest season is painting an optimistic picture.
The Mississippi Agricultural Statistics Service's Aug. 1 crop production forecast is predicting larger state crops in soybeans, hay, and corn and sorghum for grain. With the exception of grain corn, yields per acre are expected to be higher in all major crops including cotton and rice.
By Douglas Wilcox
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Caught between a rock and a hard place might best describe how Mississippi dairy producers are feeling this year. With the skyrocketing price of corn and low beef prices being offered for cull dairy cows, dairymen are facing a choice between paying higher feed prices or retiring and selling off their herds.
Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said last year's small corn crop is cutting into some dairy producers' profits and possibly forcing others out of business.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Agricultural industries dependent on corn are more than ready for harvest to begin. Unfortunately, they have a long wait ahead of them and yields still are uncertain.
Corn prices are having a dramatic impact on the poultry, catfish, beef, dairy and swine industries.
Mike McAlpin, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said corn prices have doubled since January. He said feed is the primary poultry cost, regardless of the price.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The cows may be mad in England, but in the United States, it's the cattlemen with reasons to be angry.
Dr. Charlie Forrest, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said fed cattle prices are down $6 to $8 per hundredweight from this time last year. Calf prices are down about $25 per hundredweight.