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Fuel Costs Hurting Mississippi Farmers

By Daniel Cherry | Published 22 Apr 2011 03:13pm | comments

Rising fuel costs are hurting Mississippi's nearly seven billion dollar agriculture industry. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how rising fuel costs are hitting home for many of the state's farmers.

Gas in Mississippi is climbing towards four dollars a gallon, and people all over the state are feeling the effects. But few are hit harder than Mississippi farmers. Brad Peeples is the manager of the Rankin County Farmers Cooperative.

"Everything we sell we're seeing an inflation. Gates, wires, fencing, seeds, plants. It's causing people to just cut way back. We're still selling the necessities, but we're not selling the stuff...if they can live without it, they're not buying it."

Market prices for many of Mississippi's commodity crops are the best they've been in years, but Andy Prosser with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture says any additional gains Mississippi farmers might have made will probably be cut.

"Farmers, event though they have a good price that they can get at the end of the year their expenses are going to be significantly higher to make that crop. That limits the farmer's ability to make a top quality crop because he may be trying to cut expenses, fewer times across the field, less fertilizer. That's probably going to end up being less yields."

Poultry farming is the highest grossing agriculture industry in Mississippi. Tommy Rhodes raises chickens and cattle near Pelahatchie. He depends on the Midwest for grain...he's worried about poor weather conditions and fuel prices causing farmers there having lower yields.

"Making a good bottom line out here is tough, real tough. If they can't make a good crop it's going to sure enough make us suffer. I doubt there's enough corn grown in Mississippi to support the chicken business. So we have to depend on our northern states, and if it's hurting them up there, it's going to hurt us down here."

Mississippi's agriculture industry employs about 17% of the state's entire workforce. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.




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