Miss. timber industry expects decline

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mississippi’s forest industry is expected to record another net decrease in the 2007 timber harvest as it recovers from Hurricane Katrina.

Marc Measells, a forestry researcher for Mississippi State University, said two other factors continue to affect the industry in varying ways.

“Drought conditions have allowed more harvest, driving down prices,” said Measells, adding the continuing nationwide housing slump figure devalues Mississippi’s timber.

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In the university’s 2006 report on forestry in Mississippi, timber harvests were valued at $1.21 billion, just behind poultry and eggs as the state’s top agricultural commodity. The latter brought in $2 billion.

Overall, the timber harvest decreased more than 16 percent and severance tax collections were just more than $3.4 million, or 7.1 percent lower than 2005 — losses attributed to continuing hurricane recovery, increased imports and energy prices and the nationwide housing slump.

Measells predicted another decrease in the value of the state forestry product of about 8 percent.

The university’s report on the state of forestry in 2007 is being prepared by Measells and fellow researcher James Henderson. Results are expected by the end of the month, Measells said.