Cotton on the Rise in Mississippi
Courtesy of the Mississippi Business Journal
Buoyed by a notable increase in cotton prices, agriculture experts are forecasting a significant rise in the amount of cotton production in the state.
“The outlook for the 2016-2017 crop is we are going to a fairly considerable increase in cotton acres,” said Larry Falconer, Ph.D., an extension professor with the Delta Research and Extension Center. “Cotton prices have rebounded. With cotton futures in mid-70s per pound range for the new crop, it looks like the margins for cotton production are much better than they have been in the past two or three years . . . Hopefully, it will continue to do hang in there at these levels or a little higher,” Falconer continued.
This follows several years of low prices for the crop; in 2015, there were 320,000 acres of cotton planted in Mississippi, a near-historic low. In 2016, cotton acres planted went up to 450,000 acres. Falconer says that, if predictions hold true, there may be as many as 700,000 acres on the high end this year, depending on conditions and the weather.
Brian Williams, Ph.D, assistant extension professor, Mississippi State University, spoke about an upcoming farm bill: “They are thinking about it already,” Williams said. “There is a lot of pressure, more than in past years, to get this farm bill through as early as they can. I think part of that is pure politics. When you look at the makeup of the Senate, especially, there are several Democrats from swing states who are up for re-election in 2018. From what I have heard, they would like to get the farm bill off of their plate before re-election.”
Williams said farm groups are also putting pressure on legislators to get it done as soon as they can just because of the low-price environment and the tight margins compared to where producers where with higher prices when the present farm bill was adopted. He said the sooner a farm bill is adopted, the better producers will fare in getting more money into the commodity programs.
Agriculture is the number one industry in Mississippi with sales of about $6.2 billion a year and employment of about 30 percent of the workforce.
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