Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, Guest Columnist
The Picayune Item
Typically when I think of agriculture, the thought of tractors plowing fields and cattle grazing pastures comes to mind. After all, our sophisticated agricultural system in the United States does a marvelous job of producing food for our country as well as the rest of the world. Miss. is, and has been, one of the top agriculture producers within this system. The fertile soils along the Miss. River and other river and tributary systems in this state have placed our region in a prime position in the agriculture pyramid. Of course agriculture is vitally an important in the economics of Pearl River County.
The latest Census of Agriculture (2007) indicates that Pearl River County has 878 farms comprised of 135,676 acres. Of these 878 farms, 480 are in the livestock or poultry business, mostly beef cattle; 237 in the business of hay and grass; 35 vegetable farms; and 54 orchards. The total market value of the goods sold on these farms exceeded $20 million. That is quite an economic impact.
Of course some entrepreneurs are finding some very innovative ways to stretch out the revenue of their farms. Has anyone taken their children to a corn maze? What a great way for a child to experience a farm first hand. During this big adventure, children get to actually see vegetables and livestock first hand. Among the things to do is to pet and feed the livestock. Also, children can purchase a pumpkin to take home and carve for Halloween.
Like those that are wisely using their farms in innovative business ways, other agriculture entrepreneurs take their wares direct to market. These business people can often be found selling their vegetables at local markets and roadside stands. After all, one thing that never goes out of fashion is eating. Those that can figure out new ways to market and expand their business will grow and prosper.