SERA035: Delta Region Farm Management and Agricultural Policy Working Group
Statement of Issues and JustificationThe lower Mississippi River Delta region of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, along with adjacent production regions along the Gulf Coast and the High Plains of Texas, comprise one of the largest agricultural production areas in the southern region of the United States. Cotton, rice, soybeans and sugarcane are the major agricultural row crops produced in the region, along with sizeable acreages of corn, sorghum and wheat. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are ranked first, third fourth and sixth in the United States in terms of rice acreage. In 2009, Arkansas harvested 1.47 million acres of rice, Louisiana harvested 464,000 acres, Mississippi harvested 243,000 acres, and Texas harvested 170,000 acres. Texas was the nation's leading cotton producing state in 2009, with 3.52 million harvested acres, followed by Arkansas (ranked 3rd) with 500,000 harvested acres, Mississippi (ranked 5th) with 305,000 harvested acres, and Louisiana (ranked 8th) with 230,000 harvested acres. Harvested soybean acreage in the four states in 2009 was 3.42 million acres in Arkansas, 1.02 million acres in Louisiana, 2.16 million acres in Mississippi and 215,000 acres in Texas. Louisiana is a major sugarcane producing state with 425,000 acres of sugarcane in 2009. Texas also produces a small quantity of sugarcane, with 41,000 acres.
Commercial farming operations across the region share similar characteristics and challenges. Farm enterprise mix tends to have corn, cotton, rice and soybeans as primary commodities with production of sorghum or wheat available for crop diversification. Although some differences exist across the region, machinery complements and production cost structures are relatively similar for major crops produced by states in the region. In addition, farming operations across the region also face similar current challenges related to the long term economic viability of row crop agricultural production. Some of these challenges or issues include: (1) adoption of new production technologies to reduce per unit production costs, (2) optimal enterprise mix and farm size as production costs change over time, (3) impact of rising fuel and fertilizer prices on farm profitability, and (4) the impact of potential changes in the structure of farm program price supports on farm size and profitability, particularly for rice and cotton production. The purpose of the Delta Region Farm Management and Agricultural Policy Working Group, as outlined in this SERA group renewal proposal, is to address these and other relevant issues and to analyze the impact of such issues on the economic viability of commercial farming operations in the region from a farm management perspective.
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