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Agricultural Economic Development

Agriculture is one of Mississippi’s top industries. Agriculture and forestry production and processing is Mississippi’s $45.2 billion industry (Henderson and Barnes, 2016). These production and processing industries provide a major economic contribution to the state economy, accounting for: 
  • 266,392 jobs in the state
  • 15.3 percent of the state’s wages and salaries
  • 18.6 percent of all industry sales
  • 17.5 percent of value-added
  • $3.73 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue contributions
According to the U.S. Census (2012), the local food system in Mississippi contributes significantly to Mississippi’s economy using the many assets and activities across the state, including but not limited to: 
  • 10.9 million total acres are in production
  • 133,306 acres is the average county number of acres in production
  • 345 acres is the average farm size of operation
  • 497 farms offer agritourism and recreational activity
  • $3.10 million in gross revenue from agritourism and recreational activity
  • $77,600 is the average county gross revenue from agritourism and recreational activity
  • 349 farms sell direct-to-retail or direct-to-institution
  • 1,206 farms sell direct-to-consumer
  • $4.02 million in total direct-to-consumer sales
  • 94 farmers markets exist across the state (Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, 2017)
The top 10 Mississippi counties ranked by total farm acreage, average farm size, agritourism and recreational activity, direct-to-consumer sales, and number of farmers markets are:
  • Total farm acreage: Bolivar, Sunflower, Yazoo, Washington, Tallahatchie, Leflore, Panola, Coahoma, Hinds, and Holmes (Figure 1) 
  • Average farm size: Tunica, Issaquena, Sharkey, Washington, Sunflower, Leflore, Coahoma, Bolivar, Humphreys, and Tallahatchie (Figure 2)
  • Agritourism and recreational activity: Tunica, Sharkey, Leflore, Coahoma, Quitman, Kemper, Calhoun, De Soto, Franklin, and Benton (Figure 3)
  • Direct-to-consumer sales: Chickasaw, Greene, Scott, Simpson, George, Tate, Panola, Harrison, Hinds, and Covington (Figure 4)
  • Number of farmers markets: Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Forrest, Calhoun, Madison, Neshoba, Alcorn, Washington, and Chickasaw (Figure 5)
These local food system top 10 county review, infographics, and profiles are designed for economic developers, planners, local food system advocates, local governments and communities in Mississippi. The infographics show the attributes of the local food system in each county as well as a state summary. These infographics can be used in the planning for growth of local, regional, or state-level food system expansion and development.

The Top 10 Figures

Total farm acreage description in text.
Figure 1. The Top 10 Mississippi Counties by Total Farm Acreage (2012)
Source: U.S. Census 2012
Average farm size description in text.
Figure 2. The Top 10 Mississippi Counties by Average Farm Size (2012)
Source: U.S. Census 2012
Agritourism and recreational activity description in text.
Figure 3. The Top 10 Mississippi Counties by Agritourism and Recreational Activity (2012)
Source: U.S. Census 2012
Top 10 counties with direct-to-consumers sales description in text.
Figure 4. The Top 10 Mississippi Counties by Direct-To-Consumer Sales (2012)
Source: U.S. Census 2012
Top 10 MS Farmers' Markets by County description in text.
Figure 5. The Top 10 Mississippi Counties by Number of Farmers Markets (2017)
Source: Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, 2017
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Rows of canning jars line a table at an open-air marketplace.
Filed Under: Agricultural Economics, Agri-business, Local Food System Economies, Food and Health, Food September 11, 2020

Cottage food laws enacted to allow new entrepreneurs to start small-scale food businesses in their homes were updated recently to stay current with the business climate.

Filed Under: Agri-business, Agri-tourism, Local Food System Economies August 14, 2020

The Mississippi State University Extension Service will start rolling out tips Monday to help agritourism farms adapt when they face market losses as COVID-19 changed the way schools are operating and how group events are being held this year.

Filed Under: Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, Local Food System Economies, Food Safety, Coronavirus April 16, 2020

An April 24 webinar with experts from the Mississippi State University Extension Service will address pressing questions about the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on food production in the U.S.

Filed Under: Local Food System Economies, Small Business, Food, Food Safety November 27, 2019

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Experts from the Mississippi State University Extension Service will offer a workshop designed to help food-related business owners prepare for disasters.

“Food as a Business: Disaster Preparedness for Food Businesses” is for anyone who currently operates or is interested in operating an agriculture-based food business, including retail, cottage food or food processing operations.

Topics include financial preparedness, risk management, record keeping, crisis communication planning, emergency-action planning and food recall and traceability planning.

Filed Under: Agriculture, Local Flavor, Local Food System Economies October 5, 2018

Mississippi producers can learn how to serve the farm-to-school market at an Alliance of Sustainable Farms event Oct 19.

Success Stories

Red potatoes in a biodegradable basket are flanked on either side by green snap beans.
Agri-tourism, Culinary Tourism, Farmers Markets, Local Food System Economies, Economic Development, Rural Development, Food, Health, Nutrition, Rural Health, Vegetable Gardens
Volume 4 Number 2

From the youngest to the oldest generations, thousands of people are visiting, shopping, and enjoying themselves at the Hernando Farmers’ Market, held Saturdays on the historic DeSoto County Courthouse lawn.

The market has more than just fresh produce. It connects the community by uniting the shoppers, producers, and artisans who come.


Monday, February 5, 2018 - 7:00am

Select Your County Office


Portrait of Dr. James Newton Barnes
Associate Extension Professor