In 2001, Mississippi ranked 26th among the states in income from agriculture, with marketings of over $3.1 billion; crops accounted for $900,000 and livestock and livestock products $2.2 billion.
The history of agriculture in the state is dominated by cotton, which from the 1830s through World War II was Mississippi's principal cash crop. During the postwar period, however, as mechanized farming replaced the sharecropper system, agriculture became more diversified. In 2002 Mississippi ranked 2nd in upland cotton and 4th in rice production. About 1,980,000 bales of cotton worth $380 million were harvested in 2002. Soybean output in 2002 totaled 44,000,000 bushels, worth $243 million, and rice production was 16,192,000 hundredweight in 2002, with a value of $62.3 million.
Federal estimates for 2002 showed some 43,000 farms with a total area of 11 million acres (4.5 million hectares. The richest soil is in the Delta, where most of the cotton is raised. Livestock has largely taken over the Black Belt, a fertile area in the northwest.