Mississippi’s crop values could top $7 billion for the third year in a row, according to John Michael Riley, the agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Riley says his preliminary estimate of 2014’s production values is around $7.7 billion.
“The row crops sector of the agricultural economy took a bit of hit, but there were pockets of that sector that saw improvements, such as cotton and rice,” Riley said. “On the bright side, the livestock sector is doing well with all three segments of that industry -- beef cattle, dairy cattle and hogs -- showing double-digit improvements, percentage wise, from the previous year.”
The Rise of Forestry
Forestry, which is the state’s second highest commodity, is showing a 13.8 percent increase in value to $1.2 billion. This is thought to be driven by the improvement in housing starts, and it is 48 percent higher in value than back in 2009 when the recession first hit the industry.
“Expectations are for a nearly 20 percent increase in total U.S. housing starts in 2015 as more first-time buyers enter the housing market,” said James Henderson, an associate forestry professor at the MSU Extension Service.
A Boom in Soybeans
Mississippi’s top row crop, soybean, was ranked the third highest commodity in 2014. It has a preliminary estimated value of about $1.1 billion with producers using harvesting equipment to harvest about 200,000 more acres than 2013. If the projected yield of 52 bushels per acre is accurate, a record will be set. Riley stated that there had been a lower price for soybeans in 2013. He predicts that in 2015, price points for corn, cotton and soybeans will be relatively equal.
“Right now, the producers’ agronomic needs, where crops fit in rotation and what works from a soil nutrient standpoint, will drive acres in 2015,” said Riley. “There’s no clear winner from a price standpoint.”
Final figures will be released in May 2015. At this time, Riley’s predictions may be realized and indicate a positive upswing for Mississippi crop values.