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"Agriculture and manufacturing are the two bright spots in the economy right now,” says Abbott Myers, chairman of Mississippi Land Bank and a rice/soybean/corn producer at Dundee, Miss. But, he says, the growing federal deficit, the likelihood that Congress will eliminate direct payments and other farm program funding, the potential for interest rates and inflation to increase, and continuing higher costs for farm inputs pose challenges to farmers.
CYNDI HYDE-SMITH, center, Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce, was a special guest at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Land Bank. With her are Gary Gaines, left, the organization’s president, and Abbott Myers, chairman of the board.
Grain production outlook
There are forecasts, Myers says, that agricultural exports will slow next year, that world supplies will build, and grain prices will go down.
“If we look at the growth in world grain production, most of our competition lately has come from South America. But our next major competitor looks to be the Ukraine. The Russian economy has been booming, and a lot of that surplus money is being channeled into agricultural production. The only downside for them is that their weather is very erratic. We all remember past grain shortages in Russia as a result of weather disasters.”
Good crop prices in recent years have also brought sharp increases in land prices, Myers says.
“In my area of the Delta, in the past 14 months, farmland has gone up over $1,000 an acre, and land rents are up $100 per acre. In the Midwest, rents are running $300 to $400 per acre, and I’ve heard as high as $500 in some places in Illinois. These kinds of increases are unheard of. I don’t see how such prices can be sustained with the potential for grain prices to go down.”
In the next 20 years, Myers says, projections are that world food production will need to double in order to meet the needs of population growth.
“It seems we’re producing at the maximum now, but we’re going to have to do a lot more. How we will accomplish it is an awesome challenge.
“I think agriculture has a strong future, but we need to be wary of three things: inflation, rising production costs, and the overreaching of government, which we’re seeing on every hand.”
Mississippi Land Bank “is in a strong capital position to meet the lending needs and growth in the area we serve,” Myers says.
“We’re so excited about the future of agriculture — it’s a wonderful time to be in this business. We know there are obstacles ahead, but we’re confident that Mississippi and American farmers will continue to overcome these problems and meet the challenges that arise.”