Mississippi's agriculture industries had their best year ever in 2011. Unfortunately for growers, high front end costs are cutting deep into their bottom line.

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Miss. Agriculture Sets Record Value, Farmers Still Feeling the Pinch

By Daniel Cherry | Published 09 Jan 2012 05:53pm | comments

Mississippi's agriculture industries brought in record production value in 2011, but that doesn't mean farmers are reaping the rewards. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how high overhead costs have farmers hurting as bad as ever.

For the first time ever, Mississippi's commodities were valued at more than 7 billion dollars. Unfortunately for the folks who produce those commodities, there wasn't much rise in their profits...if at all. Andy Prosser with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture explains fuel, fertilizer, and feed costs are at historically high prices.

"Just like any other business in this country and around the world, what you make you have to look back on your input costs and what it costs for you to make it. Those costs, with them going up too, when you look at $150 and acre and your input costs are at $130 an acre or $150 and acre, it's basically a wash."

Poultry remained the highest grossing agriculture industry in the state, topping out at more than $2.4 billion. But Mike Cockrell, Chief Financial Officer with Sanderson Farms in Laurel says it wasn't a bright year...the bad economy has people buying less chicken.

"That reduced demand unfortunately was paired with historically high grain costs, and the two did not work very well together. As a result, our year end results are the worst we've ever reported."

Times are tough right now for farmers, and Danny Murphy who farms about 1,500 acres in Canton says many in his area are leaving the age old profession behind.

"Twenty five, thirty years ago there were probably 100-150 farmers in there that were active and making their living farming. Today I think we're probably somewhere in the 30-40 range of really active operations."

Along with higher input costs, farmers lost hundreds of thousands of acres during last year's historic flooding. A severe drought parched another huge portion of the state.




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