One of the most delightful parts of building this website has been discovering things that really surprise me. As a life-long resident of the State of Mississippi, I have always thought of catfish or timber first when someone mentioned agricultural products. But recently, I found a list of the top 15 Mississippi agricultural products published December, 2013 by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) and was surprised to find one of my favorite foods topping the list!

  • Poultry / Eggs – $2.71 Billion
  • Forestry – $1.17 Billion
  • Soybeans – $993 Million
  • Corn – $631 Million
  • Cotton – $331 Million
  • Cattle/Calves – $289 Million
  • Catfish – $178 Million
  • Hay – $157 Million
  • Hogs – $144 Million
  • Rice – $141 Million
  • Wheat – $126 Million
  • Horticulture Crops – $115 Million
  • Sweet Potatoes – $69 Million
  • Milk – $40 Million
  • Peanuts – $23 Million

Chicken (and eggs) has always been one of my favorite sources of protein and I’m proud to say I’ve never met a chicken I didn’t like. Who knew that eating chicken could be so helpful to my home state!

From Ken Litwin’s article at

No industry can provide protein for humans at such a reasonable cost as the poultry industry, Mark Leggett says.

The president of the Mississippi Poultry Association is proud to point out that poultry continues to be Mississippi’s top commodity, and farm gate impact numbers – the amount paid to farmers for raising chickens – have been above $2 billion every year since 2000.

“Our state produces chicken for Mississippi residents and also ships to other U.S. states, plus we export to 60 foreign countries,” Leggett says. “Mississippi poultry is well positioned to feed growing populations throughout the world.”

According to the United Nations, the rapidly growing world population will be consuming two-thirds more animal protein by 2050 than it does today. Mississippi already exports more than $300 million annually in poultry sales, with its biggest foreign customers being Mexico, Russia, Hong Kong, Angola and Cuba.

“Poultry in Mississippi accounts for 55,000 direct and indirect jobs, with wages and salaries at around $1.2 billion,” Leggett says. “This state is home to six of the largest chicken broiler companies in the country – Koch Foods, Marshall Durbin Company, Peco Foods, Sanderson Farms,Tyson Foods and Wayne Farms – plus Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg processor in the world, is based in Mississippi.”

There are 2,000 poultry growers in the state that sell products and services to the six big companies. Among them is Danny Thornton, a Leake County farmer who was raised in the broiler business in central Mississippi. Thornton is considered an expert in the poultry industry, with 37 years of experience that included teaching agriculture at Mississippi State University in the Department of Poultry Science until his retirement in 2012.

The Mississippi Poultry Association has produced a really interesting video on the history of poultry production in Mississippi, and if you want to learn more check out the video below:


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