In a final hour attempt to reverse the additional $5 million cut, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Doug Davis and House Chairman Johnny Stringer concurred in maintaining the ag units of Mississippi State University at the equivalent level of other higher education budgets.

“We’re really grateful to them, Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, and Speaker of the House Billy McCoy for standing with us on this,” Morgan said. “Their support, and that of the 48 organizations that signed the letter to the governor indicates just how strongly people feel about the contributions of the ag units to our state.”

Agriculture and forestry create $9 billion in income at the farm gate in Mississippi, and landowners, farm operators, and the agri-industrial complex contribute $730 million to state and local governments through increased tax revenues.

Agriculture and forestry employ 17 percent of the state’s work force in the production, processing, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, marketing, and transportation of raw materials or finished goods, and generated 15 percent of the state’s taxable income, the letter to the legislative leaders pointed out.

“Due to technology advancements, largely bolstered by the two land grant systems, most of the employment generated by agriculture is high paying, off farm jobs in allied businesses that simply would not be in Mississippi were it not for the agricultural and forestry complex.”