Fewer farmers are producing food sold in the state and nation

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:59 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some Mississippi farmers, planting and harvesting year round, are concerned about where food will come from in the future as their numbers dwindle. Agriculture is a $9.7 billion dollar industry in Mississippi, but the number of farmers working the fields and the land is shrinking.

“It’s early in the morning when the roosters crow and late at night when the sun goes down,” said Smith County farmer Jeff Snyder.

That’s the life of the third-generation farmer. For 71 years, his family has raised crops and sold them here at Brenda’s Produce. But Snyder is a dying breed.

“It’s seven days a week, and anything could happen, you know. You could have water lines break or tractor go down,” said Snyder. “You’re always fixing something, and you’ve got to love it. If you don’t love it, then you’re not gonna make it.“

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Survey, they are among just over 34,000 farmers in the state. That’s about 8,000 fewer than about a decade ago.

“It’s definitely a shame that it’s dying out like that,” said Dan Cherry.

The Jackson father of two shops often at Brenda’s stand for fresh local produce.

“I don’t think it’s going to be more difficult to feed our family. I just think that food’s gonna come from somewhere else, and it’s a shame that we’re gonna lose that local touch,” said Cherry.

Seventy-three-year-old stand owner Brenda Langham said she has been farming all her life, working in the fields with her late father, who opened the Jackson business.

“There’s not a lot of farmers left,” said Langham. “There’s not gonna be but just a very few, and it’s gonna be the older generation in a few years.”

Local farmers say they are now relying mostly on relatives and a network of growers to keep the industry alive. Brenda’s Produce is open Monday- Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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