Topping list great thing for our area

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Normally, finishing in second-place isn’t ideal, but when you’re talking economic drivers in the state, No. 2 isn’t too shabby.

A Mississippi State University Extension Service agricultural economist has provided preliminary figures for the values of the state’s agricultural impacts in 2014.

No surprise that poultry rained No. 1 in the state at an estimated $3.13 billion projected total value. Regardless of which comes first that’s a pile of chickens and eggs.

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Forestry ranks as Mississippi’s No. 2 commodity at an estimated $1.28 billion in value during 2014. That’s up nearly 50 percent since 2009, which is good news for the state and the nation as it indicates the housing market is improving with new construction increasing.

But the value of our area’s timber resources can go far beyond just cutting down trees for simple lumber.

Timber is our area’s biggest natural resource and one that’s renewable with good management practices.

After the closure of paper mills throughout the region, our timber “basket” is full and growing by the day. That means our area is ripe for additional economic development tied to timber.

No one knows for sure what the next great use for timber will be — whether for some kind of renewable fuel source or some type of product development, rest assured Southwest Mississippi will be in the catbird seat when any new uses come on line, and we’ll be happy to be No 2.

Besides, trees smell much better than poultry houses anyway.