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Alternative land uses can increase income
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most agricultural land can make money in more ways than one, and many Mississippians are discovering that the development of natural resources can offer benefits year-round.
Land that is in timber is often a great place to hunt deer. A rice paddy in the winter can offer excellent waterfowl hunting, and walking trails and bed and breakfasts both need scenic settings to be successful. All of these take advantage of one of Mississippi's best natural resources, its land.
Jim Miller is program coordinator for the Mississippi State University Extension Service's Sustainable Natural Resource-Based Enterprises program. This program focuses on assisting private landowners in their attempts to manage natural resource enterprises for profit.
"Some are using land to its highest financial potential, but many landowners look at their natural resources as adjunct to their primary operation rather than as an integral part," Miller said.
The goal of the program, which began in 2001, is to help landowners make wise decisions in managing and operating their natural resources.
"If a landowner already has an agricultural, forestry or livestock operation and wants to add a new enterprise, we provide information to help them understand the tradeoffs that must be made. To be successful, the new enterprise must be compatible with the existing enterprise," Miller said.
He said landowners wanting to diversify and offer access to their land for recreational uses often can provide guide services or amenities such as food plots and be compensated appropriately. Those interested in such an enterprise must enjoy dealing with the public and be able to manage a business.
Adding a new enterprise to existing land can occur simultaneously with the primary activity or after that activity has concluded for the year. Examples include deer hunting on a timber tract or waterfowl hunting on winter-flooded farmland.
"If you have a land resource base and want to sustain it, an alternative enterprise might actually fill in a time gap when you wouldn't actually be working on the land. This would allow you to bring in some additional income from the same piece of property," Miller said.
In addition to increased revenue generated by a piece of property, Miller said the extra effort leads to better land management.
When he began promoting this Extension program, Miller formed an advisory committee made up of private landowners and representatives of several state and federal agencies such as the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Mississippi departments of tourism and agriculture. This committee helps Miller stay abreast of issues and information needs among Mississippi landowners.
Miller authored and co-authored three recent Extension publications on the subject of natural resource enterprises dealing with wildlife and recreation. They cover general considerations for landowners, business considerations for landowners and hunting leases.
For more information on the Sustainable Natural Resource-Based Enterprises program, contact the local county Extension office.
Contact: Jim Miller, (662) 325-2619