Despite challenges, ag industry surpasses 2019 with $7.35 billion value

Agriculture continued its reign as Mississippi’s top industry in 2020 with farmers in the state generating an estimated “agricultural value” of $7.35 billion, according to the Mississippi State Extension Service. 

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s agricultural industry’s value surpassed its 2019 total of $7.01 billion — overcoming obstacles to reach the $7 billion mark for the ninth year in a row.

“We did some midyear analysis on June 1, and the economic picture for farm products looked pretty bleak,” Keith Coble, head of the Mississippi State University Department of Agricultural Economics, said. “We went through unprecedented losses early to midyear, but markets have generally improved in the latter portion of the year.”

Poultry production led the way for the industry once again in 2020 with an estimated value of $2.16 billion—a slight decline from 2019’s total of $2.57 billion. While forestry typically comes in at number two, a 2.6% decline from a year ago allowed for soybean production to move into its place with an estimated production value of $1.21 billion. 

Courtesy of MSU Extension

The MSU Extension Service outlined the performance of several other commodities in 2020. 

  • Rice was up 44% to an estimated value of $138 million. 
  • Peanuts posted a 34% estimated increase to $19 million.
  • Cattle and calves experienced slight growth in 2020 with an estimated value of $261 million, up about 5% from 2019 levels. 
  • Milk declined 1% – $24 million
  • Hogs declined 7% – $38 million
  • Catfish also faced a turbulent year due to restaurant demand disruptions among other factors. Its value of production stayed flat in 2020, with an estimated value of $226 million.
  • Specialty crops remained at 2019 levels and together brought an estimated $106 million in production value to Mississippi. 
  • Sweet potatoes posted an estimated 1.8% increase for a 2020 value of $96.7 million.
  • Hay – up 3% to $140 million
  • Wheat – down 17% to an estimated $4 million.