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Ag value rose in 2001 despite poor markets
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Prices that reached some historic lows couldn't prevent Mississippi farmers from posting a farm value in 2001 that surpassed the previous year's by just over 3 percent.
Final agriculture production figures were recently calculated and show the state's largest industry had a value of $4.39 billion. Farm production value in 2000 was $4.25 billion.
"In retrospect, I don't know that we saw any huge surprises," said John Anderson, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "The value of poultry production was higher than anticipated, but the value of cotton production was lower, apparently due to greater-than-expected losses from adverse weather late in the growing season.
"Overall, you don't see a huge change in the value of ag production. The big story for all the crops was large total production and continued low prices, particularly for row crops," he said.
Poultry kept the state's top spot, with a $1.66 billion production value in 2001. This figure is higher than anticipated, and topped the $1.38 billion value of 2000.
"2000 was not a great year for poultry, and a lot of it had to do with weakness in some major export markets," Anderson said. "2001 was a better year for foreign sales, and the big question for 2002 will be how big an impact the Russian ban on poultry imports had on us."
Increased demand for all types of meat in the last several years also has helped the poultry industry.
Forestry maintained its No. 2 ranking. Value appears to have dropped 10 percent to $1.12 billion, primarily on weaker prices. Final 2001 figures will be available in mid-May.
"This is caused by large supplies, both domestic and foreign," Anderson said. "Imports from Canada increased in 2001, but there was also a lot of domestic production of timber."
Cotton is the state's largest row crop and third in production value at $438 million, down almost 9 percent from 2000 because of what Anderson characterized as "unbelievably low" prices.
"Cotton acres were the highest they've been in decades, and we had a phenomenally good year of production over most of the state. Worldwide, we have a huge oversupply of cotton, and the demand has been declining in recent years," Anderson said. "I don't look for it to get better any time soon."
Soybean value held steady as higher production compensated for lower prices. Corn increased more than 40 percent, but that increase was from a very low value of production in 2000.
Catfish dropped 13 percent in value even though total pounds produced in 2001 was up 1 million to 381 million pounds. Price per pound live weight was 74 cents in 2000, but dropped to 63 cents a pound last year. 2002 prices have dropped even further.
"That's the story right there -- that 11 cents a pound drop in price," Anderson said. "Then the Vietnamese imports hurt price on top of increased domestic production of catfish."
Anderson said cattle's 4 percent decline was a reflection of a low point in the normal cattle market cycle. Hogs increased 17 percent on both higher production and prices.
Mississippi's 2001 Top Crop Values (In millions)
- Poultry $1,659
- Forestry* $1,120
- Cotton $439
- Catfish $260
- Cattle/calves $210
- Soybeans $164
- Corn $100
- Milk $80
- Rice $80
- Hay $78
- Horticultural crops* $74
- Hogs $59
- Wheat $29
- Sweet potatoes $28
- Grain sorghum $15
*Preliminary figures as of early May