Specialty Crop Production
Specialty crop production is important to Mississippi’s economy. Specialty crops typically include horticulture crops, such as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, nursery crops, and floriculture.
Barnes and Myles (2017) recently measured the economic contribution of five of these crops to Mississippi’s economy: blueberries, honey, pecans, sweet potatoes, and watermelons. Results indicated this cluster of selected specialty crops contributes significantly to Mississippi’s economy:
- $238 million in industry sales
- 1,929 jobs supported
- $146 million in income
- $170 million in value-added
- $29 million in local, state, and federal taxes
This cluster of selected specialty crops also supported several economic sectors in Mississippi’s economy. Recipients of these benefits purchased goods and services from 10 other sectors, which created jobs for local residents, who spent a portion of their disposable income on goods and services in the state. The top 10 sectors supported by this cluster’s economic activities in Mississippi include:
- vegetable and melon farming
- owner-occupied dwellings
- fruit farming
- real estate
- support activities for agriculture and forestry
- wholesale trade
- all other food manufacturing
- physicians’ offices
- limited-service restaurants
Numerous businesses in many sectors of Mississippi’s economy are linked together as suppliers and purchasers of goods and services and benefit from agriculture, and specialty crop production in particular. Expansion of production for this cluster of selected specialty crops by 10 percent (about $14 million) could contribute an additional 193 jobs, $24 million in industry sales, and almost $17 million in gross regional product to the Mississippi economy.
Barnes, J. and A. Myles. 2017. “Local Food System Economies: How Selected Specialty Crops Contribute to Mississippi’s Economy.” Mississippi State University Extension, Forthcoming.
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.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept applications for assistance from agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.Sign-up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 -- CFAP 2 -- begins Sept. 21 and runs through Dec. 11, 2020. The program is open to producers of row crops, livestock, aquaculture, dairy and specialty crop commodities.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented a new obstacle for Mississippi blueberry growers in 2020, impacting the labor force for the early-season varieties.