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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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Canned goods at a farmers market.
Filed Under: Local Flavor, Farmers Markets, Local Food System Economies, Marketing and Business Planning, Specialty Crop Production March 24, 2023

Have you considered becoming a vendor at your local farmers market? It’s important to do some research, check regulations, and make a plan before you begin a business or begin selling your products at one.

These tips can help you create a plan for selling at farmers markets and other similar venues.

Close up of tomatoes and yellow squash in farmers market baskets.
Filed Under: Local Flavor, Farmers Markets, Local Food System Economies, Marketing and Business Planning, Community, Small Business January 25, 2023

POPLARVILLE, Miss. -- Current and prospective market vendors can learn valuable marketing skills in a Feb. 9 workshop in Poplarville. Farmers Market Vendor Workshop: Boosting Your Revenue will teach participants valuable skills to help them increase sales. The workshop is open to vendors who sell at festivals, farmers markets and other similar venues.

Passion fruit grown on a vine.
Filed Under: Agriculture, Commercial Horticulture, Fruit, Local Flavor, Farmers Markets, Local Food System Economies, Marketing and Business Planning, Specialty Crop Production May 27, 2022

The U.S. passion fruit industry is small, but a team of researchers want to help it grow through a grant awarded to Mississippi State University. Eric Stafne, fruit and nut specialist with the MSU Extension Service, is leading a research project aimed at gathering input from growers, marketers, consumers and buyers. The research team wants to better understand the current industry and its future direction.

Frozen food at shelves in cold warehouse
Filed Under: Agriculture, Agricultural Economics, Beef, Local Food System Economies March 24, 2022

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Two years have passed since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the U.S., but problems the virus caused in the country’s grocery supply chain could remain well into 2022, which will likely mean higher beef prices for consumers.

Josh Maples, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said labor reductions caused beef shortages, which have increased the price of this commodity across the country.

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.

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.

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Portrait of Dr. James Newton Barnes
Associate Extension Professor