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VOLUME 90 NO. 1

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014

Mississippi’s Outstanding Ag Leaders

Farm Bureau: Making a Difference in Your Life My name is Keith Morton. I farm with my wife, Beth, in Falkner, where we grow soybeans, wheat, corn and cotton. I have served on the Tippah County Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 1989, and I am currently serving as the board president. Being a member of Farm Bureau has blessed me in many ways, but I want to share a couple of programs that have been especially beneficial to me.

Commodity Program Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) has a Commodity Program that recognizes 15 of the top commodities produced in the state. These include aquaculture, beef, cotton, dairy, equine, corn/wheat/feed grains, forestry, honeybees/apiculture, horticulture, peanuts, poultry, rice, soybeans, sweet potatoes and swine. Our regional managers serve as advisers for the different commodity areas, and we have

commodity advisory committees that make policy decisions concerning the commodities. Over the years, I have participated in the cotton and soybean meetings and gained much beneficial knowledge about these crops. We usually have specialists on hand from Mississippi State University to give us production updates, address any production issues and advise us on market conditions. Many times, members of the Department of Agriculture staff or a Senate or congressional ag staffer will inform us of upcoming policy debates that could potentially affect the commodity we produce. This leads to one of the most important functions of the commodity groups, which is to make policy recommendations that will benefit our particular commodity. These recommendations can then be adopted by any of the county Farm Bureaus that agree with them and submitted as a resolution to the MFBF Annual Meeting.

I have been honored to serve as the chair of the MFBF Soybean Advisory Committee in years past. This experience allowed me to gain perspective on how important the Commodity Program is to our members.

Young Farmers Another program that has meant a lot to Beth and me is the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Program, which helps young farmers and ranchers become more aware of Farm Bureau as an advocate of agriculture. Since space is limited here, I invite you to read about this program in the next issue of our magazine. Encourage your friends to become Farm Bureau members. Review the list of membership benefits on page 2.

Keith Morton is a former first vice chair of the YF&R State Committee and a former state Young Farmer of the Year.

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MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY Volume 90 Number 1 January/February 2014 Mississippi Farm Country (ISSN 1529-9600) magazine is published bimonthly by the Mississippi Farm Bureau® Federation. Farm Bureau members receive this publication as part of their membership benefit. Periodicals postage is paid at Jackson, MS and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to P. O. Box 1972, Jackson, MS 39215 EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICES 6311 Ridgewood Road Jackson, MS 39211 601-977-4153 EDITOR - Glynda Phillips ADVERTISING Angela Thompson 1-800-227-8244 ext. 4242 FARM BUREAU OFFICERS President – Randy Knight Vice President – Donald Gant Vice President – Ted Kendall Vice President – Reggie Magee Treasurer – Billy Davis Corporate Secretary – Ilene Sumrall FARM BUREAU DIRECTORS Carla Taylor, Booneville Lowell Hinton, Corinth Ronnie Jones, Holly Springs Chris Lively, Clarksdale Randle Wright, Vardaman Kelcey Shields, Mantachie Mike Langley, Houston Kenneth King, Ackerman Wanda Hill, Isola Jimmy Whitaker, Satartia Oliver Limerick, Shuqualak Vander Walley, Waynesboro David M. Boyd, Sandhill David C. Barton, Raymond Jeff Mullins, Meadville Mike McCormick, Union Church Lyle Hubbard, Mt. Olive Larry Jefcoat, Soso J. B. Brown, Perkinston Louis J. Breaux IV, Kiln Betty Mills, Winona Jon Koehler Bibb, Tunica HONORARY VICE PRESIDENT Louis J. Breaux III Material in this publication is based on what the editor believes to be reliable information. Neither Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation nor those individuals or organizations contributing to the MFBF publication assume any liability for errors that might go undetected in the publication — this includes statements in articles or advertisements that could lead to erroneous personal or business management decisions. FARM BUREAU®, FB® and all Farm Bureau logos used in this magazine are registered service marks owned by the American Farm Bureau Federation. They may not be used in any commercial manner without the prior written consent of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

CONTENTS

January/February

2014

FEATURES 6 Outstanding Ag Leaders Mississippi’s outstanding agricultural leaders are spotlighted in this issue of our membership publication. Full coverage of Farm Bureau’s 2013 annual membership meeting will run in the March/April issue.

22 A Talented Cook Yalobusha County Farm Bureau member Peggy Whiteside has won many cooking competitions. Come with us as we learn more.

26 Solve the Mystery Our mystery town, located in Smith County, serves as the home office of Southern Pine Electric Power Association. Read the clues and make your guess.

DEPARTMENTS 2 Member Benefits 6

President’s Message

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Commodity Update: Equine

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Commodity Update: Peanuts

“Our mission is to create an environment in which Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and Farm Bureau members can have a better life and make a better living.”

About the

cover

Tippah County row crop farmer Keith Morton visits one of the soybean fields he and his wife, Beth, farm together in the hills near Falkner. Inside, Keith talks about Farm Bureau and what it has meant to him through the years.

Design: The Cirlot Agency 4

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Randy Knight, President, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation

I am writing my column in October as Senate and House conferees begin working out the details of a final Farm Bill reauthorization. Sen. Thad Cochran, who serves on the Farm Bill conference committee, has strived to bring all sides together to work in a bipartisan manner to complete this bill, and progress has been made. Mississippi farmers are hopeful. It has been a bumpy road, and we could not have gotten this far without Sen. Cochran’s steadfast leadership and knowledge. Hopefully, we will have a new Farm Bill that meets the needs of all farmers by the end of the year.

EXCELLENT AG LEADERS

The type of leadership exemplified by Sen. Thad Cochran is important to the future of our farming industry. Farm Bureau is all about shaping the agricultural leaders of tomorrow, and the men and women honored during our 92nd annual membership meeting in December have benefited in one way or another from our excellent leadership programs. In this issue, we visit with a few of our honorees, and the rest will be featured in our March/April issue. Ag Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith received our Distinguished Service Award while Rep. Bill Pigott and Sen. Russell Jolly were our Friend of Agriculture Award recipients. Our Excellence in Leadership Award went to Robert Naron of Bolivar County, and Julie White and Nelda Starks of Oktibbeha County received our Ag Ambassador Award. All of these outstanding leaders are deserving of our recognition and thanks. Our first-ever Farm Woman of the Year is Rita Seward of Jackson County. Like most farm women, Rita wears many hats on her family’s large row crop, cattle and quarter horse

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industries. A humble, unassuming man, Keith tries hard to avoid the spotlight, but I am going to beam it on him anyway. Keith is a former MFBF director and the current president of Tippah County Farm Bureau. He is a former chair of the MFBF Soybean Advisory Committee, a former first vice chair of the MFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers State Committee and a former state Young Farmer of the Year. Keith serves in leadership positions with the Mississippi Land Bank, Mississippi Soybean Association, Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board and Northeast Mississippi Producer Advisory Committee for Soybeans. In the past, he has served as chair of the Northeast Mississippi Producer Advisory Committee for Cotton. And how about those soybeans? Keith and his wife, Beth, farm together in a true partnership, growing soybeans, cotton, wheat and corn in the North Mississippi hills near Falkner. As the women’s chair for Tippah County Farm Bureau, Beth has also served our organization well.

operation. The family also continues to operate one of Mississippi’s first agritourism endeavors. And finally, I know you noticed our cover. Through the years, longtime Farm Bureau volunteer leader and past annual membership meeting honoree Keith Morton of Tippah County has well served our organization and the Mississippi soybean and cotton

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I want to conclude my column on leadership by encouraging you to continue your grassroots efforts to raise the visibility of our Farm Bureau programs in your communities, even as we work together to tackle issues that affect our farmers, ranchers and Farm Bureau members across the state. We have accomplished a lot in 2013, but we still have many goals to reach. I am eager to begin.

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Commodity

Update: Equine

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

Many Mississippians are proud horse owners, part of the equine culture of our state. Horse trails, riding clubs and other events are popular activities that many enjoy. However, there are more opportunities for horse lovers to use their special talents. One way is to become involved with a hippotherapy (physical therapy on horseback) group.

History Therapeutic horseback riding has been around for centuries, perhaps as far back as the early days of the ancient Greeks. However, it wasn’t brought to the United States until the 1960s. Once established in our country, riding for disabled persons was developed as a form of recreation and motivation. In today’s world, hippotherapy has been developed as a medical field. Trained specialists use the horse as the therapist. Many doctors and therapists refer patients to these riding programs to assist patients with widely differing needs.

Different Benefits A disability does not have to limit or hinder a person from riding horses or enjoying the outdoors. There are many benefits to be derived from therapeutic riding. Numbered among these are physical, psychological and emotional benefits.

Because horseback riding rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human’s gait, the physical benefits are improved posture, muscle strength and balance. Psychological benefits come from the human-animal bond that develops between the horse and the rider. Also, the emotional benefits are a sense of independence and a positive self-esteem, built from accomplishing such a feat as riding a horse.

Mississippi Commodity is Excellent Update: Peanuts for Peanut Production MATT BAYLES MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Equine

How to get involved There are many therapeutic riding farms and programs around the state of Mississippi. These opportunities can be found from the northern part of the state all the way down to the south. Each facility follows the guidelines of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship.

BETTY MILLS MFBF Equine Commodity Advisory Committee Chair

Any new rider is generally assisted by two sidewalkers, who walk alongside of the horse. A third assistant leads the horse that carries the novice rider. Most riding classes are taught by an instructor with a strong equine background and an understanding of various disabilities. These farms and programs are looking for volunteers to help with their programs and events. If you would like to volunteer, contact the nearest therapeutic riding facility. They will welcome your help and provide you with a unique service opportunity.

You might have heard the popular saying, “Willpower is the ability to eat just one peanut!” This statement bears testament to the fact that peanuts are loved by many, especially here in the United States, where peanuts (and peanut butter) are the most popular nut of choice, comprising approximately 67 percent of all U.S. nut consumption. Today, peanuts are frequently consumed in many different forms and used in many different food and nonfood products. This steady demand for peanuts and peanut products, both domestically and in the world market, has lead peanut production to become big business in many parts of the United States and in several areas of Mississippi. Commercial peanut production first began in the United States in Virginia during the 1800s, when the crop was mainly grown as food for livestock and the poor, as it was considered difficult to grow and harvest. Peanut production continued to increase in the Southeast during the first half of the 19th century, but the nuts became especially popular during and after the Civil War, when many soldiers from both armies, many of whom were farmers, found them to be a convenient, easy-to-pack source of protein and took them back home to plant at the end of the war. In the late 1800s, roasted peanuts became a popular snack sold at circuses, baseball games and by street vendors. However, during that time, the demand for peanuts never shot upward because the peanuts were still harvested by hand, which resulted in a lack of uniformity and diminished quality, with stems and debris being left in the peanuts.

SAMANTHA LAIRD

LONNIE FORTNER

MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Peanuts

MFBF Peanuts Commodity Advisory Committee Chair

Around 1900, mechanical equipment for planting, cultivating, harvesting, shelling and cleaning peanuts was invented, which not only reduced the labor necessary for peanut production but also improved peanut quality and drove up demand for roasted and salted peanuts, peanut butter and candy, and peanut oil. In the early 1900s, the boll weevil threatened the South’s cotton crops, and in 1916, George Washington Carver, a researcher and inventor famous for his work with peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans, published his famous research bulletin, “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption.” It was during this time that peanuts became a significant agricultural commodity that helped save the economy of the South and, for a time, even rivaled the position of cotton as a Southern crop. After Carver discovered more than 300 uses for the peanut, including chili sauce, coffee, shaving cream, shampoo, rubber, axle grease and plastics, the demand for peanuts steadily increased, and commercial peanut production continued to rise. According to the American Peanut Council, peanuts are currently the 12th most valuable cash crop grown in the United States, with a value at the farm gate of over one billion U.S. dollars. While no one knows exactly when peanuts were first grown in Mississippi, it is clear that commercial peanut production increased in the Mississippi Delta during the 1970s with the

introduction of a peanut buying point and dryer in Coahoma County. When peanuts were initially grown in Mississippi, they were produced according to a set quota system, and by the 1980s, most of the allotted peanut acreage for our state had moved to Southeast Mississippi. When the 2002 Farm Bill created a peanut marketing loan program, peanut acreage was opened and expanded to other areas of Mississippi. In 2012, Mississippi planted approximately 50,000 acres of peanuts, its biggest peanut crop in recent years, and became the seventh largest peanut-producing state in the nation. The 2012 planted acreage increased tremendously from the 15,000 acres planted in 2011 and was the result of a tight peanut supply increasing demand and causing prices to skyrocket. This year, with the peanut supply and demand market back in check, Mississippi peanut farmers planted approximately 33,000 acres of peanuts. Mississippi has proven to be an excellent place for peanut production, boasting the highest peanut yields in the nation in 2011. Many industry leaders expect peanut production in Mississippi to remain strong in years to come. To date, three major peanut buying and shelling companies have established four peanut buying points in different areas of Mississippi. Their commitment to this bodes well for the future of Mississippi’s peanut industry and for the peanut farmers in our state.

Sources: http://www.peanut-institute.org/peanut-facts/ • http://nationalpeanutboard.org/the-facts/history-of-peanuts-peanut-butter/ • http://nationalpeanutboard.org/the-facts/fun-facts/ http://nationalpeanutboard.org/the-facts/george-washington-carver/ • http://agfax.com/2012/09/30/mississippi-central-peanuts-are-a-big-deal-in-mississippi http://deltafarmpress.com/peanuts/peanuts-gain-popularity-mississippi-commodity • http://msucares.com/news/print/cropreport/crop13/cr20131011.html?intlink=rcmid http://msucares.com/news/print/cropreport/crop11/111021.html

Sources: History of Therapeutic Riding: http://www.stablelifeinc.org/historyEAT.html • Mid-South Horse Review: http://www.midsouthhorsereview.com/news.php?id=4584 Learn About Therapeutic Riding PATH International: http://www.pathintl.org/resources-education/resources/eaat/198-learn-about-therapeutic-riding

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AN AWESOME,

BY CINDY HYDE-SMITH Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce

INSPIRING JOURNEY

As your Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, there are many days when I pause and wonder, ‘How did I get here?’ We are always so busy running the Department of Agriculture and Commerce that I seldom have time to stop and digest the last two years. It really is hard to believe I’ve been your commissioner for two years. I remember when the journey began with the campaign and the decision to embark on a statewide race. My sister, Sherry Hyde-Thames, quoted me Ephesians, “The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.” The Bible is absolute. The truth in that verse is so very obvious. We just finished up the 154th Mississippi State Fair. My goal for attendance was 700,000. I was told that we had never reached that milestone. With sincere prayers for good weather and a little Internet finesse, we had 706,588! We broke the historic record. For a state that has a population of 2.8 million, that’s pretty good. For the first time in the United States, we had a mobile app for Apple and Android devices just for the fair. We had close to 9,000 downloads. We live in a changing world, and our agency adapts quite nicely. We have great employees. Mississippi is such a wonderful place to live. There is so much satisfaction in serving the people of this great state. You truly remember the people who help you along the way. From when I chaired the Mississippi State Senate Agriculture Committee, I remember the significant battles such as private property rights. Farm Bureau was such a driving force in that debate. I had never felt so supported than when I had the opportunity to take that bill to the well of the Senate. Although

the fight was not over, the celebration of a statewide referendum was just as sweet. There’s no doubt that the strongest bonds are forged during the darkest hours. It reminds me of the Kenny Chesney song, “The Boys of Fall.” The lyrics say, “I’ve got your number. I’ve got your back when your back’s against the wall. You mess with one man, you’ve got us all.” Farmers and ranchers unite when called upon, and Farm Bureau proudly carries the torch. While campaigning across the state, I met people from all walks of life. I talked to a lot of farmers who share a lot of the same concerns. They told me they wanted a market where they could sell their crops for a reasonable profit and with sensible regulations that promote a safe product and ensure sustainability. That is our goal at the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. We have many responsibilities such as the Bureau of Plant Industry. Their responsibilities include making sure you are buying a quality product in seed, fertilizers and chemicals. We regulate all of the scales in the state to ensure accuracy, and we oversee many plants in the state for sanitary and safe conditions that meet all state and federal regulations. Our state farmers market is doing incredibly well. We have a lot of very ambitious goals for the Ag Museum. We are looking to make vast improvements to the Coliseum, Trade Mart and show barns. The renovation of the Coliseum depends on legislation, and we look forward to the legislative session and those opportunities. There will be new restrooms on the midway for the 2014 Mississippi State Fair. We just signed a new contract with North American Midway

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipient. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor Farm Bureau bestows on an individual, and it is reserved for someone who has truly made a difference in the lives of Mississippi farmers.

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that includes many improvements. They also just finished refurbishing the carousel at the Ag Museum, which is a beautiful piece of history. It was built in the 1920s and is restored for our visitors. I feel that the future of production agriculture will face challenges with radical groups who want to control many areas of livestock farming. We know the significance of producing enough food to feed this country and many others. Although farmers and ranchers are easygoing by nature, I feel that it’s time to establish the efforts necessary to take these groups to task and protect the harvest. I am so blessed to be raising my daughter, Anna-Michael, a fifth-generation farmer, on our family farm in Brookhaven. Lincoln County Livestock, the cattle auction that my husband Michael’s grandfather started in 1942, provides us with an opportunity to work as a family, along with Michael’s parents, in a profession that we all love. It has been an extra blessing as a mom to have Anna-Michael showing reining horses, and that provides such special family time. I am very grateful to my parents for instilling in me a strong work ethic. I learned to drive on a Farmall cub tractor. Family time is so important, whether at the horse show or the stockyard. It has been an awesome journey, and I am so honored to serve you as your commissioner. It is very inspiring to be a part of the future of agriculture in Mississippi. I want to provide programs that will enhance and benefit not only production agriculture but the state as a whole. Agriculture is our state’s number-one industry, so we have a lot of opportunities for growth.

photo by MSU Ag Communications

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is especially proud of the role he played in helping to increase rice acreage in his county.

to Washington. In the legislative process, agriculture is represented to the fullest.

“Around 1974, rice production in the Delta was restricted by government controls and was farmed on limited acreage,” he said. “A group of farmers, through Bolivar County Farm Bureau’s resolution process, got together and worked with U.S. Rep. David Bowen to do something about that. With his help, we voted at a county annual meeting to support opening the rice allotments where everyone could grow rice.”

“I also appreciate Farm Bureau’s efforts to take agriculture’s message to consumers. We need to let people know where and how their food is grown and how much it costs to produce it. It is a big business, and it is an important business.”

In the mid-1970s, the rice allotment program was eventually opened, allowing Bolivar County producers to begin rice production. Bolivar County became the largest rice-producing county in the state.

Robert Naron of Bolivar County is the recipient of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award. The award was presented during the organization’s annual membership meeting in December. A permanent member of the Bolivar County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and a former state Young Farmer of the Year, Naron is the fourth generation of his family to farm and the third generation to farm in the Delta. Through the years, he has witnessed many changes in agriculture and has helped to effect quite a few of them. “I started farming as a full-time job in 1968,” Naron said. “At that time, my dad encouraged me to join Bolivar County Farm Bureau and become an active volunteer leader. Nona Watson was our Farm Bureau secretary, and after I had been farming about five years, she encouraged me to enter the Young Farmer of the Year contest, which my wife and I won. I also visited Washington a couple of times on legislative trips and was able to meet with legislators, share ideas and be encouraged that they were representing us in agriculture.” During his years of service on the Bolivar County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Naron

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Also, back in those early years, Naron and his father were on the forefront in using conservation farming methods. “My father started a land forming program, along with a good many other farmers in our county,” he said. “We never did have a mass amount of acreage like some have today, but I worked through my 40-odd years of farming at land forming. “This type of farming enables you to control the water you use and thus conserve water and prevent erosion. I worked with the Soil Conservation Service when I was in college, so I got an early lesson about the need for water control structures and conservation in a farming program.” Naron says he is proud of his association with Farm Bureau. “Farm Bureau is the number-one representative of agriculture and farmers, and it deserves our respect and support,” he said. “I know, oftentimes, we look at it to the degree where we think we are trying to be too much to too many people, but that is the good part about being Farm Bureau. We try to equally support total agriculture, no matter if it is livestock, poultry, timber, row crops, vegetables and the list goes on and on. Farm Bureau tries to represent all equally and as best we can and all the way

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In addition to his volunteer work with Farm Bureau, Naron is an active member of First Baptist Church of Cleveland, where he has served as a deacon and in many other leadership positions. He has also participated in numerous mission trips. In conclusion, Naron says he is humbled to receive the 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award and owes a debt of gratitude to his wife for her support through the years. “I couldn’t have done any of the things I’ve done without her,” he said. “She is my rock and my support in everything that we encounter in life. She’s the love of my life.” The Narons have two sons, one daughter and two grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way. During his 40 years as an active Bolivar County Farm Bureau volunteer leader, Naron has served in many capacities, from voting delegate to committee member to committee chair. He has also participated in many national legislative events. Through the years, Naron has received many honors. In 2000, he received the Delta F.A.R.M. Environmental Stewardship Award. In 2009, Bolivar County Farm Bureau presented him a Lifetime Honorary Board Member status. The Excellence in Leadership Award was established to recognize those volunteer leaders of Farm Bureau who have made a significant contribution to Farm Bureau and agriculture in Mississippi. Their contributions have been performed as a result of an unselfish effort to strengthen Farm Bureau and to enhance rural life in Mississippi.

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A TRUE FRIEND OF AGRICULTURE

Rep. Bill Pigott of Tylertown is the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 Friend of Agriculture. The award was presented during the organization’s annual membership meeting in December. Rep. Pigott represents District 99, which includes parts of Lamar, Marion and Walthall counties. He serves as the vice chair of the Mississippi House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Pigott says his work with the House Agriculture Committee has given him an insight into some things that the average Mississippian takes for granted.

BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS

“It’s kind of a shame, but even though agriculture is the top industry in Mississippi, it doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves,” he said. “One reason is because of the way the Legislature is made up. We have many concentrated urban areas that elect lawmakers that don’t have roots in farming or rural communities.

(Photo by Danielle Ginn)

“It’s kind of a shame, but even though agriculture is the top industry in Mississippi, it doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves.”

“I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in a rural area, and I have farmed for many years so I know production agriculture. That gives me an advantage the average representative doesn’t have.”

Legislation During his time in the Legislature, Rep. Pigott has worked with several key pieces of legislation. “Sometimes, getting a piece of legislation through a committee is not as important as being able to stop it before it gets to the floor,” he said. “To look at it, taking it at face value, the legislation might seem harmless. In fact, it might look good. But when you get down to the inside workings of it, you see that it could actually do harm to our farmers and rural communities. “Some issues we dealt with this past session included the fact that rural roads and bridges don’t get the attention they deserve because of the way the Legislature is made up, with more urban lawmakers than rural lawmakers. Those roads and bridges help farmers get agricultural products to market, and it is very important to maintain them. Another issue was water. Mississippi is fortunate to have good water, but some of the regs coming down on discharge of water can make it real hard on farmers.”

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Rep. Pigott was instrumental in pushing through the Cottage Food Bill this past legislative session. This bill allows small food operations under $20,000 to be exempt from Department of Health regulations for nonhazardous foods. The foods must be labeled properly, and nonhazardous foods include baked goods not subject to spoilage as well as jams, jellies and preserves. “I didn’t know it, but for something like 12 years, they had been trying to introduce that bill, and it never made it. So you never know what you’ll run into,” he said. “But since it was instrumental to helping people in rural Mississippi earn a little extra spending money, I worked to get the bill passed.”

Grassroots As a former Farm Bureau county president and state board member, Rep. Pigott appreciates Farm Bureau, the way it is structured and its importance to Mississippi agriculture. “Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization that operates from the county up,” he said. “The local grassroots members help decide what goes into the policy book that guides Farm Bureau’s work in the Legislature. “Working as a volunteer leader gave me insight into how resolutions are drawn up at the county level, pass through the resolution process at the state level and are put in the policy book for the staff to try to push to be adopted in the Legislature.”

Unique Experience Rep. Pigott says it has been an honor to work with Rep. Preston Sullivan, who serves as the chair of the House Agriculture Committee, as well as Sen. Billy Hudson and Sen. Russell Jolly, the chair and vice chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He says he is humbled to receive the 2013 Friend of Agriculture Award, and he has enjoyed his time in the Mississippi Legislature. “It has been a unique experience,” he said. “I appreciate the people who have given me the opportunity to serve them.”

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A TRUE FRIEND OF Sen. Russell Jolly of Houston is the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 Friend of Agriculture. The presentation was made during the organization’s annual membership meeting. Sen. Jolly represents Dist. 8, consisting of Chickasaw, Calhoun, Grenada and Lee counties. He is the vice chair of the Mississippi Senate Agriculture Committee. “One of the biggest surprises I’ve had during my first term serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee was discovering that agriculture is affected by bills that crop up in other areas,” he said. “With highway transportation, you must worry about rural roads and bridges being properly maintained so farmers can get their products to where they need to be. With wildlife, the issue of how feral hogs are being controlled is important to farmers. You have immigration, and many farmers across the state depend on immigrant labor. So you have something with just about everything.” Immigrant labor is a big issue of concern for state farmers right now. “We’ve done a lot of research on this, and we’ve learned that Alabama passed a law that cost them over $2 billion in economic damage,” Sen. Jolly said. “I don’t think Mississippi can afford that. Still, many of our farmers depend on immigrant labor, and the problem needs to be worked out. “In my district, we have Vardaman, the Sweet Potato Capital of the World. Growing sweet potatoes is essential to the economic wellbeing and growth of Vardaman and Calhoun County. Without immigrant labor, I don’t feel the industry would be where it is today, and it is not only sweet potatoes, but forestry, blueberries, poultry – the whole thing. It’s a problem, and we need to work it out, but I think we need to work it out through the federal government.”

(Photo by Danielle Ginn)

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AGRICULTURE BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS

As a cattle farmer, Sen. Jolly says he understands the importance of maintaining the Animal Cruelty Compromise Bill that was set into place a couple of years ago. “In my opinion, we have compromised probably all we can compromise in that area,” he said. “Farmers take care of their animals better than we take care of ourselves. That’s just like my father and my grandfather always taught me: If you don’t take care of your animals, they won’t take care of you. I know I spend a lot more money on them than I do myself.

Catfish Labeling Bill, which closes a loophole in the Mississippi Country of Origin Labeling Law, where foreign fish were being labeled U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. The Livestock Theft Bill creates criminal penalties for stealing livestock and requires buyers at stockyards to pay promptly upon purchase of animals. I am proud of all of these bills.

“Now that I’m here, I don’t know what I’d do without Farm Bureau’s help,” he said. “I depend on Samantha Newman and her staff to keep me up to date on current problems and issues. Randy Knight has also been an awfully big help. Agriculture is the number-one industry in the state, and that’s where we need more focus. We don’t have enough farmers in the Legislature, and we need more to protect our rural way of life.”

“With some of the problems we are having now in that area, what worries me is that we have over seven billion people in this world that we are trying to feed,” he said. “In 2050, they are projecting we will have over nine billion people. Being able to feed them is our biggest concern. Related to that, funding for land-grant university and agricultural research is important because it’s the only way to feed those nine billion people in the world.” Sen. Jolly was instrumental in getting several key pieces of legislation through the committee in his two years in office. “The most popular, I feel, was the Cottage Food Bill,” he said. “That bill allows small food operations who are under $20,000 to be exempt from Department of Health regulations for nonhazardous foods. We also had the

“Farm Bureau is probably the biggest reason I ran for the Senate,” he said. “I had served as a county Farm Bureau president and a state board member for many years so I was familiar with the agricultural issues. I also knew how important it is for agriculture to have a strong voice in the Legislature.

“Agritourism is another issue we’ve worked with that’s very important. Kids today are about two or three generations removed from the farm, and agritourism teaches them what farmers go through. I think agritourism is an excellent way to help promote agriculture.”

In conclusion, Sen. Jolly says that in his work with the Senate Agriculture Committee he has discovered the committee has an outstanding chair in Senator Billy Hudson. He and Sen. Hudson also work closely with Rep. Preston Sullivan and Rep. Bill Pigott, the chair and vice chair of the House Agriculture Committee. “We work together, along with our committee members and Farm Bureau, to strengthen Mississippi agriculture,” he said. “That is our main goal.”

Sen. Jolly sees Farm Bureau as being essential to state agriculture and to his work in the Mississippi Legislature.

“Agriculture is the number-one industry in the state, and that’s where we need more focus.”

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FARMtastic

BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS

LEADERS HONORED Nelda Starks and Julie White, the women’s chair and women’s vice chair for Oktibbeha County Farm Bureau, received the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 Ag Ambassador Award. The presentation was made during the organization’s annual membership meeting in December.

The first FARMtastic was held in November 2012 at the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville and offered five learning stations that spotlighted Oktibbeha County agriculture. The two-day event enjoyed an attendance of approximately 700 third-graders from all area schools.

The event has received great feedback.

Nelda and Julie are the leaders behind FARMtastic, an event that teaches schoolchildren about agriculture. Julie came up with the idea after hearing about similar events in other states. She and Nelda visited one of the most successful, Ag Magic, held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. They were impressed with the program and the level of participation. During a county Farm Bureau board meeting, the women suggested that this type of learning experience could be successful in Starkville. “Nelda and I are very passionate about agriculture, and we want to share,” said Julie, who is an extension agent/county coordinator for the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service’s Oktibbeha County Office. “Consumers today have no idea where their food comes from and how important farmers are to the economy of the state, the nation and the world,” said Nelda, who is retired from the MSU Extension Service, having served as a nutrition specialist and a 4-H agent in Harrison, Perry and Oktibbeha counties. “We were just tired of visiting classrooms and hearing that chocolate milk comes from a brown cow and hamburgers come from the local fast-food place,” Julie said. “We thought that a much better way to do the Ag in the Classroom program would be to devote several days to it and give it a concerted effort – a huge splash,” Nelda said.

Extension coworkers, local farmers and many community organizations have helped tremendously. They come in and work with the youth and teachers, telling about certain commodities,” Julie said.

“The response has been very positive. We had one teacher tell us she had been teaching 15 years, and it was the best field trip she and her students had ever taken. With the student pretest/posttest, we did see an increase in knowledge and understanding of agriculture,” Nelda said. In 2014, Clay and Lowndes counties will join the five counties, and the event will offer eight stations. “We are excited and honored to receive this award,” Julie said. “We know who has gotten it in the past, and we feel it is a real tribute to our efforts.” In 2013, four more counties, Webster, Choctaw, Winston and Noxubee, joined the event sponsored by the MSU Extension Service in partnership with Oktibbeha County Farm Bureau and many other local organizations. FARMtastic was held for five days – open to schoolchildren on Tuesday through Friday and to the public on Saturday – and enjoyed an attendance of approximately 1,000 students. Seven learning stations were offered this year, including Barnyard Bonanza, Mighty Crops, Wonder Plants, Enchanted Forest, Farm Toys, FARMvillage and My Plate Theater. Julie and Nelda pushed the idea forward, but FARMtastic would not have been possible without the help of a whole lot of people. “Several departments at MSU, numerous ag-related MSU student organizations, several

“We are humbled by this, and we appreciate everyone who has helped. It was a true team effort,” Nelda said. “Oktibbeha County is a county where Extension and Farm Bureau have always worked together. It is a good partnership.” The Ag Ambassador Award was created to recognize individuals who have gone beyond their normal range of activities in promoting Mississippi agriculture. It’s not presented every year – only when Farm Bureau feels that it has been earned. Julie White and her husband, William, received the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers 2012 Excellence in Agriculture Award. They placed in the top ten in national competition.

(Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)

(Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey) 18

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operate a successful agritourism venture. “My husband kept reading about how family farms were being sold and how the next generation wasn’t interested in farming,” Rita said. “He said we needed to educate young people about where their food comes from. We looked around to see what other farms were doing, and we visited agritourism operations in other states. We decided to open a 10-acre corn maze in the fall of 2002.

As the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s first-ever Farm Woman of the Year, Rita Seward well understands the work that goes into building a successful farming operation. She wears many hats on Seward Farms in Jackson County, from managing the office (her primary job) to helping with the cattle, the crop harvesting efforts and the agritourism business on an as-needed basis. In addition, she serves on the Jackson County Farm Bureau cotton and peanut advisory committees. “Wherever I need to be, I am there,” she said with a smile. “That’s the way it works when you farm. We raised our children and grandchildren on this farm, and now, it takes everybody to make it happen. We have three generations working here.”

FARM WOMAN OF THE YEAR

It all began when Rita’s father-in-law and his family moved to the area in 1938 and began farming cotton. Today, Seward Farms grows cotton, peanuts, corn, oats, wheat and ryegrass and raises stocker cattle and quarter horses on acreage in four counties. The Sewards also

AND SEWARD FARMS MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

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The corn maze was a hit, and the agritourism operation began to grow. Today, it includes corn cannons, hayrides, pony rides, pig races, a PVC slide, a farm animal alley, a goat walk, a jumping pillow, a café, a snack/souvenir shop and more. Around Halloween, you will find a Field of Fright and a Haunted Hayride. Some 20,000 people visit the farm when it is open in the fall months. They come from Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and south Mississippi as well as towns and cities as far north as Jackson. “Families like to spend the day here,” Rita said. “It’s a nice, safe place for their children to play, and they enjoy a day on a working farm out in the country. We do have added security when we offer our haunted features. We are pretty strict about what goes on here.” The agritourism facet of the farm is now managed by the Sewards’ daughter, Susie, and their daughter-in-law, Susan. With all that

“Our farm is ever-growing and ever-changing,” Rita said. “With our agritourism business, we dream of building a big facility for parties and other events. My husband has always wanted a big two-story barn like the ones you see in the North. We think that would be just gorgeous.” In conclusion, Rita says she is honored to be named Farm Woman of the Year. She and her family enjoy a long history with Farm Bureau, and she appreciates all that it does for Mississippi farmers. “Farm Bureau has been a part of our lives for as far back as I can remember,” she said. “My father-in-law helped organize the Jackson County Farm Bureau and served as one of its first presidents. My husband, Bud, was active in the Young Farmers & Ranchers Program, and our son, Steve, was named a regional Young Farmer of the Year. “We are so thankful to be a part of this organization.” For more information about the Seward Farms agritourism operation, visit www.sewardfarms. com, email info@sewardfarms.com or call (228) 641-3936. The Farm Woman of the Year Award was established in 2013 to recognize, encourage and reward the achievements of women farmers. The recipient personifies the highest level of professional excellence in agriculture.

From left, are Kase Kelley, Bill Kelley, Koda Kelley, Susie Seward Kelley, Kole Kelley, Bud Seward, Rita Seward, Steve Seward, Susan Seward, Megan Seward and Andrew Seward.

BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS

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“Clara Bilbo brought her Ag in the Classroom (AITC) materials, and we set up a room, which we still have today, that is devoted entirely to the AITC program,” Rita said. “We take our visitors in there and let them look through the fact sheets, table-toppers and brochures.”

they have accomplished, the Seward family continues to dream big.

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Peggy Whiteside of Water Valley enjoys many interesting and rewarding pastimes. She hunts and fishes with her husband, Larry, gardens, crafts gifts for friends, arranges flowers, cans and cooks. Peggy is good at many things, but she excels at cooking. She has won so many awards for her cakes, pies and casseroles that we wouldn’t even attempt to list them all here.

COOKING

But maybe we will try. And did we mention she is good?

Contests “My mother and grandmother taught me how to cook, and I’ve been cooking for some 50-plus years,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. “I cook, oh, just about anything. I have tons of cookbooks.”

IS A JOY

Peggy especially enjoys coming up with her own recipes, a talent that has served her well in the many contests she’s entered through the years. The cooking competition at the annual Sweet Potato Festival in Vardaman calls for original recipes, and in 2008, Peggy won first place and the Mayor’s Cup. She won first- and third-place honors for the next three years then first-, second- and third-place honors the fourth go round. She has been recognized for her Sweet Potato Strawberry Chocolate Cake, her Caramel Sweet Potato Bread Pudding and her Sweet Potato Pecan Cake.

BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS

Peggy placed first in a cooking contest during a Water Valley Christmas event, and in 2010 and 2012, won the Celebrate Coffeeville cooking contest with her Chocolate Coffee Cake and Mocha Mudslide confection. This past spring, Peggy was named the grand prize winner in a recipe contest sponsored by Mississippi magazine. She was recognized for her Cabbage Casserole. The secret, she says,

is to add Rotel tomatoes and extra cream of chicken soup to an old family recipe. You can see the full recipe and information about the contest in the May-June 2013 issue of Mississippi magazine. “I entered the contest because I knew that if I placed I would receive cookbooks, and I collect them. I had no idea the casserole would be the grand prize winner.” Peggy shares some of her recipes here and on page 24.

Canning Each year, Peggy’s mother, 88, visits her daughter for three weeks in late summer to help with canning. Their efforts yield a variety of jams and jellies, pickled cucumbers, okra and squash, corn relish, chow-chow, Dutch dressing, fig preserves and tomato salsa, which

they sell at craft shows. Peggy also cans tomato juice and V8 for her own use through the year. Peggy spends three months each year canning. At the time of her interview in early September, she had completed 600 jars and was just getting started. Her products enjoy loyal customers, both old and young. “Canning is quickly becoming a lost art,” she said. “So that’s why I keep it going.”

Peggy’s Advice Peggy’s advice for beginner cooks is to follow directions while you’re learning. When you know what you’re doing, you can add to a recipe and do your own thing. Here’s a recipe from Peggy Whiteside for Mississippi Farm Country readers. See more recipes on page 24.

Chocolate Cobbler Melt two sticks of margarine in a 9x13 glass casserole dish. Take 1 ½ cups of self-rising flour, 1 ½ cups of sugar, ¾ cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of vanilla and mix together and pour over the melted butter. Don’t stir. Mix together a cup of sugar and six tablespoons of cocoa and sprinkle over the mixture. Slowly pour two cups of water over that and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream

Peggy is retired from BorgWarner Inc., where she worked as a line supervisor for many years. She has been married for almost 50 years and has two children and four grandchildren. She attends Bethel Baptist Church and has been a Yalobusha County Farm Bureau member her entire married life.

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Advertisement

PEGGY

WHITESIDE’S

RECIPES Rice Dressing 1 chicken, boiled, deboned & chopped 2 boxes Rice a Roni (chicken flavor) 1 medium onion, chopped ½ cup celery, chopped 4 boiled eggs, chopped 2 tsp. poultry seasoning 1 can cream of chicken soup Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the Rice a Roni (as directed on box) with onion. Add chicken broth instead of water, the flavor packets from the Rice a Roni and celery. Simmer about 15 minutes, covered. Add poultry seasoning, boiled eggs, cream of chicken soup and chopped chicken. Mix well. You can put this in a crockpot on low until ready to serve. (I make this instead of cornbread dressing for the holidays. It is also wonderful made with duck.)

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Southern Sweet Potato Pecan Pie ½ package refrigerated pie crust 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar 4 large eggs 1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar ½ cup butter, melted and cooled ½ cup corn syrup ½ cup chopped pecans 2 Tbsp. flour 2 Tbsp. milk 2 tsp. vanilla 1 ½ cups pecan halves 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit pie crust into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and sprinkle pie crust with powdered sugar. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until foamy; whisk in brown sugar and next six ingredients. Add sweet potatoes. Pour mixture into pie crust and top with pecan halves. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake 30 more minutes.

Zucchini Nut Bread 3 eggs 3 Tbsp. vanilla 2 cups sugar 1 cup Wesson oil 2 cups grated zucchini 1 cup chopped pecans 3 cups plain flour 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. soda ¼ tsp. baking powder Grease two loaf pans and put some granulated sugar in each one and shake to coat the bottom and sides. Mix sugar, oil and zucchini. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add flour, salt, cinnamon, soda and baking powder and blend well. Stir in nuts. Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from pans at once and cool on rack. (I make a lot of these and freeze them.)

“Irises are just a few of God’s masterpieces.” In addition to cooking, Peggy enjoys gardening.

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S lve the Mystery Our mystery town, located in Smith County, serves as the home office of Southern Pine Electric Power Association, the town’s biggest employer. Read the clues and make your guess. This town was incorporated in July 9, 1900, when the railroad came through. It was originally known as the Betah community. When the post office from a neighboring town was moved here, town leaders decided to take the name that was on the post office. In its early years, our mystery town was largely agricultural, and timber and cotton were the most important crops. Back then, the town boasted a hotel, several general mercantile businesses, drugstores, a pickle factory and several cotton gins. The town was packed on Saturdays when folks arrived to shop and visit. Today, our mystery town has stores, two banks and a car dealership. The local florist, which has been run by four generations of the same family, draws customers from neighboring towns and cities. Richard’s Hardware is another popular business.

In the industrial park, you will find Georgia Pacific, a wood products manufacturing operation; Solar Hardware, the number-one manufacturer of mailboxes in the world; Warmkraft, which makes military clothing and seasonally makes deer cameras to place in the woods; Automatic Plating, which applies coatings to metal to prevent rust; and Remy, which makes alternators. Our mystery town boasts a weekly newspaper, a public library and police and fire departments. The town has 1,355 citizens, a low crime rate and good schools. A reproduction train depot stands near railroad tracks where trains no longer run. The building serves as a community center. Our mystery town boasts a baseball complex, three walking tracks and two tennis courts. It is planning a bike trail. This town has many historic churches and buildings. The United Methodist Church is the oldest church. The “Old Town Hall” was located in what was once a Baptist Church built in 1930. The present town hall was moved

Mayor Rosalyn Glenn is pictured at the town’s museum.

into a new, modern building across town. One of the oldest homes, approximately 100 years old, houses the Eaton and Martin law firm. The annual Grillin’ and Chillin’ event draws thousands of people on the first Saturday of November, offering arts and crafts, food vendors, entertainment, an antique car show and a barbecue contest.

Famous people from this town include Eric Clark, a former Mississippi secretary of state, Billy Hamilton, who plays center field for the Cincinnati Reds, and Jason Campbell, a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Our mystery town has the numberone high school baseball team in the state. The town’s water tower was built in 1939 by Chicago Bridge and Iron Company to replicate the Tin Man’s hat from the Wizard of Oz. A museum showcasing historical artifacts is located in a building built in 1901 to house a newspaper office and a clothing store. The museum displays everything from oldtimey pinball machines to old-fashioned hats, knickers and high-button shoes. You will also find a linotype printing press, antique manual typewriters, paper and twine to wrap parcels, quilts that are over 100 years old and sheet music. The museum is free of charge. Simply call the mayor’s office at (601)785-6532 before planning your trip. The museum was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and restoration efforts with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History have it back looking good. The Mississippi Municipal League presented the town with its 2012 Municipal Excellence Award for Public Works.

Name our mystery town.

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Correct Guesses Mail guesses to: Solve the Mystery Mississippi Farm Country P. O. Box 1972, Jackson, MS 39215 You may also email your guesses to: FarmCountry@MSFB.org Please remember to include your name and address on the entry. Visit our Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation website at www.msfb.org. When all correct guesses have been received, we will randomly draw 20 names. These 20 names will receive a prize and will be placed in the hat twice. At the end of the year, a winner will be drawn from all correct submissions.

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The winner will receive a Weekend Bed and Breakfast Trip, courtesy of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. Families may submit only one entry. Federation staff members and their families are ineligible to participate in this contest. The deadline for submitting your entry is Jan. 31.

November/December The correct answer for the November/ December Solve the Mystery is Ruleville. The 2013 Bed and Breakfast winner is Jo Ann Reed of Lee County.

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Legislative Farm Tours It’s another hot, humid day in the Mississippi Delta. As the sun begins to rise, it forms the perfect backdrop for the leadership of the Mississippi Senate and House agriculture committees. These friends of agriculture are braving the Delta heat to visit with local farmers and agribusinesses, who express their concerns and show their gratitude for the work these men and women do in the Mississippi Legislature.

transferred onto barges for transport on the Mississippi River.

As the day begins, we are greeted with open arms and a warm smile at the Buck Island Seed Company. This family-owned business allowed our legislators a hands-on tour to see how various wildlife and pasture seed blends are cleaned, packaged, stored and sent for distribution.

Our final destination was the historic Stovall Farms. The oldest farm in Coahoma County, Stovall Farms is known as an innovator in conservation practices. Stovall Farms uses a series of ditches and pipes to recirculate water and allow the farm to reuse this water to irrigate crops. This tail water recovery system decreases the dependence on underground water and helps reduce overall irrigation expenses. Stovall Farms has taken an additional step in their conservation practices by installing three soil probes in different fields that allow the soil moisture to be monitored from a laptop computer. This advanced technology will improve irrigation efficiency, cut down expenses and increase yields.

The Southern hospitality continued as our legislators were able to climb aboard some of the newest farm equipment available at the local John Deere dealership. From tractors to combines, the committee members were amazed at how the size, price and technology in farming have changed over the years. The knowledgeable, friendly staff answered questions and gave our legislators a look at how advanced technology is a vital key in farming operations. As we made our way through miles of Delta farmland, the legislators were able to see and walk through fields of cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat and a fairly new crop in Mississippi, sesame. Farm leader Richy Bibb explained the grain storage process and many of the obstacles, like copper theft, that he and other farmers have encountered over the years. At the Scoular Grain Facility, the legislators were given an overview of how commodities are brought in, weighed on the scales and

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Our visit to the Pride of the Pond catfish processing facility was a unique adventure for everyone. Our legislators were able to see exactly how catfish are shipped into the facility, cleaned, processed, packaged and shipped to consumers.

After seeing the interest and the positive impact the Delta farm tour made on our key leadership, we invited the Mississippi Senate and House ag committees to take a tour of agriculture in Central Mississippi. Our goal was to emphasize that agriculture is in every area of our state. Our most urbanized counties, Hinds and Madison, have an abundance of agriculture that is just minutes from the Capitol. As we left the hustle and bustle of downtown Jackson, within minutes we were looking at green pastures and hay bales outside of Canton

MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

BY TAMMY MEYER MFBF PUBLIC POLICY COORDINATOR

at Remington-Lott Farms. At Remington-Lott, our legislators were able to walk through and see an expanded cattle operation. The stop imparted knowledge about cattle production, managing a feedlot and the overall day-to-day operations of the cattle industry. The John Deere dealership in Canton showed our legislators a wide variety of tractors, farm implements and farm supplies. The staff encouraged them to touch, crank and see up close all of the products that they provide for our farmers. Making the most of our time, lunch entailed a slid presentation from Dr. Gary Sides, the beef and feedlot nutritionist with Zoetis, on how agriculture has changed and progressed through the years. His interpretation of the American farmer and how he feeds the world left a lasting impression on all of our legislators.

2014 WINTER COMMODITY CONFERENCE Makes plans to attend the 2014 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Winter Commodity Conference scheduled for Jan. 27-28 at the MFBF Building in Jackson. The meeting will offer an informative group of speakers and an opportunity to visit with fellow farmers from around the state. Breakout sessions for individual commodity advisory committees are also planned. The Legislative Reception will be held on the evening of Jan. 27. For more information, contact Nancy Britt at (601) 977-4230. (Pictured is a scene from a past winter commodity conference.)

As we crossed county lines, our final destination was a family farm nestled on the outskirts of Hinds County. In operation since the late 1800s, Gaddis Farms is a diversified farming operation with cotton, soybeans, livestock and timber. The legislators watched as a combine harvested soybeans. They were able to catch a glimpse of Mississippi’s southernmost cotton gin, which has been in operation since 1956, as well as the holding lot that contains cotton modules and round bales. As the day ended, our legislators were taken back in time at the Gaddis and McLaurin general store, located “smack dab” in the middle of Bolton. The general store has been operating in Hinds County since 1871, offering a shopping venue for seed, feed, lumber, clothing and hardware.

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PIC:

(Political Issue Committee)

Expanding Our Effectiveness All Mississippians, regardless of their professions, are impacted by “pocketbook” issues. These can include property tax, sales tax, user taxes and fees, health care, crime, education, waste disposal and others. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) carefully monitors any and all issues affecting the membership, especially those that directly relate to the enhancement of our members’ quality of life. MFBF strives to improve and protect our members’ economic position and carefully takes appropriate steps to respond to issues, based on the policies adopted by the Farm Bureau delegates. Political Issue Committee (PIC) funds are used to promote the passage or defeat of specific issues that will be voted on by: (1) the state’s registered voters; (2) members of the state Legislature; (3) the U. S. Congress; or (4) specific segments of the farming community (i.e., cotton, beef or soybean producers, etc.).

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Farm-related issues have included estate taxes, tort reform, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and the passage of private property rights, better known as eminent domain reform. Farm Bureau supported these issues as sound, beneficial programs that will enhance producers’ net income and improve their quality of life. PIC funds provided the Farm Bureau organization a valuable means of being able to go beyond its normal efforts in each of these cases. By voluntarily contributing $1 or more to PIC annually, you are providing the organization an opportunity to expand its efforts beyond what normal membership dues allow. PIC funds are NOT used to support political candidates or parties. For more information on PIC, please contact Samantha Cawthorn Newman at (601)9774020 or snewman@msfb.org.

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Calendar of Events Jan. 7

Legislative Session Convenes at Noon

Jan. 12-15

AFBF Annual Meeting San Antonio, Texas

Jan. 27-28

Winter Commodity Conference Jackson

Jan. 27

Legislative Reception

Feb. 10-12

Washington D.C. Fly-In Visit

Feb. 18

Women’s Day at the Capitol & Food Check-Out Day Jackson

Feb. 21-23

MFBF YF&R Leadership Conference Vicksburg

March 4

MFBF Ag Day at the Capitol Jackson

April 22-23

Secretaries’ Conference Jackson

April 25

Women’s Leadership Conference Jackson

June 10-12

AITC Workshops

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conservationist for Mississippi. Kurt Readus began his tenure on Sept. 22, 2013.

New State

Conservationist The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the selection of a new state

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Readus started his career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in 1998 as a student trainee and worked in the states of Arizona and Alabama. He served as a soil conservationist and district conservationist in Arizona as well as an area and assistant state conservationistprograms in Mississippi. Throughout his career, he has served on details to national headquarters in Washington, D.C., with the National Conservation Stewardship Team and has served as the acting deputy state conservationist of California. He is married to Dr. Fonda L. Readus and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He says he truly believes in fulfilling the mission of NRCS, “Helping People Help the Land.”

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