Teaching about Agriculture.
VOLUME 89 NO. 6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 Agriculture Teaching Children About A Publication of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation â€˘ MSFB.org Farm Bureau: Making a Difference in Your Life I am Debbie Hackler, and I feel blessed to have lived on a farm near Vancleave in Jackson County all my life. I grew up around dairy and beef cattle and watched my dad work hard growing soybeans, corn and hay. I grew up eating fresh vegetables, home-grown beef and fresh milk, and I knew exactly where my food came from. My husband and I still raise beef cattle, hay and timber. We are passing on our love of farm life and fresh foods to the younger generations in our family. My husband and I have been Farm Bureau members since 1977 and volunteer leaders through the years. After retiring, I was able to become more active as a volunteer leader, and in 2005, I joined the Jackson County Farm Bureau Board of Directors as women’s chair, working with the Ag in the Classroom program. I strongly believe in Farm Bureau, its member benefits, the values that it stands for and its mission of being The Voice of Agriculture®. Farm Bureau strives to make a difference in our lives as both farmers and consumers. It is so important to get the ag story out to the public, and one of the ways that I think Farm Bureau excels in doing this is through the Women’s Program and Ag in the Classroom (AITC). Here in Jackson County, we have a very active AITC program, thanks to our dedicated volunteers and the support of Farm Bureau on the local and state levels. Ag in the Classroom/Ag Education Most people are at least three generations removed from a farm. If you ask children where their milk comes from, they say a store. Many children have never seen a live cow and have not really thought about the fact that milk comes from a cow on a dairy farm or that their food was grown on a farm, processed and delivered to a grocery store for them to buy. My job as a volunteer is to promote, share ag-related information and give out free resource materials about Mississippi’s commodities. I always take along my BFF (Best Farm Friend), Moo-Lissa the Dairy Cow. Children and adults enjoy milking her and learning ag facts. Moo-Lissa, my volunteer committee and I set up displays when we visit schools, festivals, the county fair, fresh markets and many other local events each year, sharing agrelated information with thousands of Mississippians. Moo-Lissa and I explain how important agriculture is in everyone’s lives with a reminder: “No Farmers – No Food.” I also remind students and the public that it is important to “Buy Local - Buy Fresh.” Supporting local family farmers is good for the consumer and good for the farmer. Many items in the grocery store, including some brands of canned and frozen vegetables, are imported. I encourage you to read labels and ask your grocery store to sell more U.S.grown products. None of us wants to depend on another country for our food. If you are unfamiliar with all of the other benefits you gain access to when you join Farm Bureau, see the adjoining page or visit our website at www.msfb.org. 2 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 3 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY Volume 89 Number 6 November/December 2013 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. ® ® 2013 Features CONTENTS November/December 3 Teaching Kids About Agriculture Because today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, the Agriculture in the Classroom program strives to teach schoolchildren to understand and appreciate agriculture. Come with us as we learn more. 9 State Convention The annual membership meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation will be held Dec. 7-9 at the Hilton Jackson hotel in Jackson. A schedule of events can be found inside. 20 Solve the Mystery Our mystery town in Sunflower County is home to the North Sunflower Medical Center, Luster Bayless Hollywood Movie Costume Museum and Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden. Read the clues and make your guess. “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.” Departments 2 6 8 22 30 Member Benefits President’s Message Commodity Update: Forestry Counsel’s Corner Land Program Spotlight About the cover Two-year-old Fisher Hackler is learning to appreciate agriculture every time he visits the farm owned by his grandparents, David and Debbie Hackler. His parents are Joshua and Heather Hackler. See the related article on page 3. Design: The Cirlot Agency 4 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 5 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Randy Knight, President, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Calendar of Events We also visit with Dr. Sandy Slocum, a retired Mississippi State University Extension Agent who is working part-time with the Ag in the Classroom segment of our women’s programs in DeSoto and Tate counties. This is a predominantly urban area of the state where schoolchildren desperately need to learn about agriculture. Dr. Slocum’s help with this is most welcome. Farm Bureau is a great organization. I guess what appeals to me the most is our strong network of volunteer leaders. These men and women work hard each year to carry out our programs and projects, all the while guided by a strong set of traditional values handed down to them by their parents and grandparents. When you become a Farm Bureau member, you gain access to our excellent Member Benefits package, but you also join our family. That alone, in my humble opinion, is worth the membership dues you pay each year. In closing, I want to encourage you to make plans to attend state convention in early December. We have an excellent program planned, but convention is also a great time to visit with friends while taking care of Farm Bureau business for another year. You will find more information about convention inside this issue of our magazine. And since you will be receiving this publication in November, I want to wish you and your family a blessed holiday season. My family and I covet your continued support and prayers as we begin yet another year of service to this great organization. I will talk to you again in 2014. A Reliable Transportation Infrastructure is Vital BY JUSTIN BROOKS A strong and reliable transportation infrastructure is vital to Mississippi agriculture. Without safe and adequate roads and bridges, our commodities would have a difficult time getting to market. Our infrastructure is in very poor shape due to inflation, economic hardship and a lack of funding. Mississippi has begun looking at ways to fund transportation infrastructure improvements, and we are not alone. More than half of the states in this nation are looking at funding strategies for roads and bridges. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) declares that 25 percent of their approximately 29,000 lane miles are in very poor condition. At the current funding level, by the year 2035, more than 50 percent of the roads will be in very poor or failed condition. MDOT announced it would need $1 billion to bring pavement repair to an acceptable condition, but their annual budget is limited to $150 million. The bridges in our state are in just as bad, if not worse, condition. There are 16,609 bridges in the state of Mississippi, and 3,607 of them are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The costs associated with repair are around $3.9 billion. Over the past 23 years, the state fuel tax has not been increased one penny, although the cost of routine maintenance has more than doubled. Mississippi has the seventh-lowest gas tax, along with the eighth-lowest diesel tax, in the country. Even though this sounds appealing to consumers, the consequences over the years are beginning to show their effect. As the costs of goods and services have continued to rise, the dollar has steadily lost purchasing power. The current gas tax, 18.4 cents per gallon, now has the purchasing power of nine cents. In 1990, asphalt was $23 a ton; today, it is nearly $73 a ton. One reason for the decline in Public Policy Research Coordinator Several years ago, Farm Bureau sent its old photos, papers and publications, many of them dating back to the 1920s, to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. But every now and then, when we are cleaning out a closet or a file cabinet, we discover an “ancient artifact” that takes us back. We are reminded once again of how much the world has changed. Several of our staff members and volunteer leaders have served the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation with four state presidents. Over the years, these men and women have witnessed a lot of change. One of the most profound is the degree to which technological advances have transformed not only agriculture but the entire world. Can you imagine a business environment without a fax machine, computers or email? Well, these people can. And how about a life lived without iPhones? Cell phones weren’t widely available to the public until the early 1990s. Before that, we had landlines, carbon copies, paper files and snail mail. In many respects these changes have been positive. As I noted in an earlier column, today’s farmers are able to grow more crops using less land and costly inputs than ever before in our nation’s history. The other side of the coin in our present Information Age is that folks are pulled in so many different directions by so many different ideas and interests it is often challenging to compete for their attention. It keeps us on our toes. That’s one of the reasons our county Farm Bureaus have begun thinking outside of the box. Volunteer leaders are coming up Thinking Outside of the Box Nov. 14 Nov. 21-28 Dec. 7-9 Jan. 7 Jan. 12-15 Jan. 27-28 Jan. 27 Feb. 8-12 Feb. 10-12 Feb. 18 State Resolutions Meeting MFBF Building, Jackson fuel tax revenue is the more fuel-efficient vehicles. It is not unusual, with modern technology, for vehicles to get 25, 30 and even 40 miles per gallon or more. Not only are vehicles getting better gas mileage than ever, we tend to drive less due to the economic downturn we are facing. The 1987 Highway Program was the greatest thing for transportation in Mississippi history, but the ’87 highway bill was missing one fundamental ingredient, a maintenance plan. This past legislative session, at least 37 states brought forth legislative proposals that were relevant to infrastructure funding. The debate is underway about what should or could be done with this situation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving the problem. A few states have adjusted the fuel tax to keep up with inflation. Other states are increasing taxes on the average retail price of gasoline; this tax method will fluctuate according to the price of gasoline. Arkansas and Georgia have implemented a temporary .05¢ and .1¢ increase in sales tax that will generate additional revenue for construction and maintenance. Both of these states took the decision to the polls and let the citizens of the state decide if they want to foot the bill for their infrastructure crisis. Additional revenue methods that are on the table are vehicle and rental car taxes, DMV fees, gambling tax, tolling, alternative fuel and electric fees, Internet sales tax and more. These are just a few ideas that other states have been looking into, but the answer to the problem is quite unclear. For more information about this issue and others that concern Farm Bureau members, contact the Public Policy Department at (601) 977-4229. National Farm-City Week MFBF Annual Meeting Hilton Jackson Jackson Legislative Session Convenes at Noon AFBF Annual Meeting San Antonio, Texas Winter Commodity Conference Jackson with new and interesting ways of making their programs more visible within their communities, and that’s great. It’s a grassroots effort that truly exemplifies what Farm Bureau is all about, and I know our forefathers would be proud. In this issue of our membership magazine, we visit with Vicki Morgan, a public relations/communications expert hired on a contract basis by Leflore County Farm Bureau to build interest in their program. Vicki offers tips that other county Farm Bureaus can use to call attention to their own programs and projects. Legislative Reception AFBF YF&R Conference Phoenix, Arizona Washington D.C. Fly-In Women’s Day at the Capitol & Ronald McDonald House Jackson 6 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 7 Forestry is Agriculture Forestry in Mississippi is an important component to the overall state economy. Forestry has long been the second most valuable commodity in the state behind the poultry industry, until soybeans moved ahead in the last two years due to high prices. But forestry is still a billion-dollar industry in Mississippi. According to 2012 statistics, forestry is the number-three commodity in the state, and Mississippi ranks third nationwide for pulpwood production. According to Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Forest Economist James Henderson, the total combined impact of forestry-related employment accounted for 4.3 percent of all jobs in Mississippi in 2010. The average annual wage in forestry-related occupations was $45,183. That is $5,897 more than the state average. The total impact of the forest products industry to the Mississippi economy also amounted to $10.38 billion in total industry output, $3.95 billion in value-added and $2.63 billion in wages and salaries. In percentage terms, this represents 5.8 percent of total industry output, 4.7 percent of value-added and 4.5 percent of wages and salaries for the entire economy of Mississippi. This considerable economic impact is dependent upon the ability to harvest and transport timber products to sawmills and other value-added production facilities. In 2010, the year of the previously described economic impact study, Mississippi harvested and delivered over $1.1 billion in timber products. The value of that harvest and associated processing into forest products made forestry and forest products a $10.4 billion-dollar industry for the state of Mississippi. But for so many people, forestry is an afterthought in the agricultural sense. Many people view forestry as a separate entity entirely. Just because the pine trees and hardwoods are not planted and harvested in the same year does not mean Commodity MFBF Annual Meeting 9:30 a.m. 10:00-11:15 a.m. 10:30 a.m. SATURDAY, DEC. 7 The annual membership meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation will be held Dec. 7-9 at the Hilton Jackson hotel in Jackson. The General Store and Young Farmers & Ranchers’ live and silent auctions will be held throughout convention. At presstime, here’s a schedule of other highlights. Forestry Update: KEVIN BROWN MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Forestry YF&R Discussion Meet Semifinals “Meet and Greet” Reception with Baxter Black Women’s Breakout Session General Session - Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Ambassador Competition and YF&R Discussion Meet Finals Cooking Demo (Farm to Table) County Promotion Exhibits (Each quarterly winner will man their booth.) Safety Conference Farm Families of Mississippi Benefit Dinner KEN MARTIN, MFBF Forestry Advisory Committee Chair 1:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. SUNDAY, DEC. 8 7 a.m. 9 a.m. 9 a.m. 10:45 a.m. 1:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m. SUNDAY, DEC. 9 8:00 a.m. that forestry is not an agricultural practice. Many landowners fall into this same trap. Forestry is a forgotten crop at times until a hurricane, tornado or ice storm wreaks havoc across a stand of timber. Mississippi has over 19,600,000 acres of forestland across the state, with 125,000 landowners. Mississippi forest landowners pay an estimated $74 million in ad valorem taxes annually. Timber severance taxes for 2012 were $3.5 million. The problem is that the majority of the forest landowners are not dependent upon their timber for a livelihood. These stands are viewed strictly as a retirement income or emergency fund. More landowners need to be aware of the struggles that the timber industry faces. By becoming more involved in Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, these landowners can help build a stronger voice for Mississippi forestry. Forestry faces an uphill battle every day. When counties have problems with the roads, the first group to get the blame is the log trucks. Never mind that gravel trucks and cement trucks running the same roads as the log trucks are putting the same stress on the roads. When counties take steps to make loggers put up higher bonds, this decreases the value of the timber in that county. The loggers cannot pay the same stumpage prices as other counties when the cost of doing business is higher due to the county regulations. Many of these counties try to single out forestry as not being an agricultural product. It is for this reason that landowner involvement is so crucial. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is the largest general farm organization in the state and depends on the leadership of its members to protect and create an environment where farmers, ranchers, landowners and other members can have a better life and make a better living. That last part is why it is so crucial to speak out and have your voice heard. When counties and municipalities put unwarranted regulations on the forestry industry, this affects the bottom line of many landowners in the state. Your voice and involvement in the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation policy development process has the ability to help many other landowners facing the same problems. Forestry contributes something to the majority of the counties in Mississippi. It is high time that the Mississippi public accepted forestry as an agricultural enterprise. Without forestry in Mississippi, many towns and communities would not exist nor prosper. Without forestry in Mississippi, people would have to look to other sources of lumber to build homes, paper to take notes in class or at work and other means of transferring electricity. Forestry in Mississippi employs many people and provides tax revenue to the counties, municipalities and state. Without the forestry industry, Mississippi would be a far different state. Remember what forestry does and how much we depend on the forest landowners of the state the next time you want to complain about roads or you are behind a log truck. Just sit back and admire one of Mississippi’s finest agricultural products on your way down the road. Women’s Recognition Breakfast Women’s Business Session Breakout Session Worship Service - Patrick Henry Hughes General Session - Keynote Speaker is Baxter Black. Presentations will be made for Mississippi Pennies and the Farm Woman of the Year, Friend of Agriculture, Ag Ambassador, Excellence in Leadership and Distinguished Service awards. General Session - Presentations will be made for YF&R Discussion Meet winner and recipients of the Excellence in Agriculture and YF&R Achievement awards. Business Session and County Recognition Program Ag in the Classroom T-shirts for Sale Ag in the Classroom T-shirts are available for purchase now (the long-sleeved version will be available in November) and in the General Store at state convention. The shirts come in maroon or red, sizes Youth, small through large, and Adult, small through 2XL. The cost is $20 for long sleeves and $15 for short sleeves. For more information, call Clara Bilbo at (601) 977-4245 or Pam Jones at (601) 977-4854. You may also email Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org. The State Women’s Committee would like to thank Region 4 Women’s Chair Jody Bailey for the design. Who Grew My Soup? “Who Grew My Soup?” is available for purchase now and in the General Store at state convention. This Agricultural Book of the Year and a free teaching unit are $6 plus $2 postage. For more information, call Clara Bilbo at (601) 977-4245 or Pam Jones at (601) 977-4854. You may also email Pam at email@example.com. “Who Grew My Soup?” was underwritten by the Campbell’s Soup Company. 8 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 9 PAW-PAW’S VEGETABLE GARDEN O n e To m a t o a t a T i m e BY ERIN MCDILL Learning About Life At the ripe old age of 81, John A. McDill, known to me as ‘Paw-Paw,’ has accomplished a lot. As a God-fearing man, veteran, loving husband, adoring father, city worker and multiple award winner, his influence and expertise span many different arenas. An avid vegetable gardener, with a consistent yield of mouthwatering tomatoes, Paw-Paw’s gardening roots began establishing themselves as far back as his childhood, but they have only recently started to blossom in my own life, which is where this story begins. Paw-Paw grew up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, where his family, and many others, farmed to survive. As he says, “If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat.” Although I’ve grown up watching his impressive vegetable garden, with the busyness of life, the challenges of teenage years and, ultimately, going to college, I never really invested any personal time in it myself. When my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago, I suddenly wanted him to teach me everything he knew about life, which later took the form of a vegetable garden. My idea was that he could teach me the “ins and outs” of vegetable gardening before he couldn’t remember everything anymore. I figured if I could learn this, then when he passed on, I could always carry with me a part of him, a special part composed of pieces from his past and present, for me and my future kids. I’ll never forget the first day we tilled. PawPaw, dressed in work overalls and a straw hat, began to show me how to position the rows horizontally because my garden sat on a slight slope. I learned that this way, if a heavy rain came, erosion wouldn’t wash the plants or seeds away. Although I’m a self-described “country girl,” I’d never used a tiller before or knew how resilient Mississippi soil could be. Sunburnt, with blistered hands, exhausted and exhilarated, I had finally planted my first garden. Each day after that, Paw-Paw came down and told me what to do next. It was during this time that I learned how important it is to aerate your plants with a hoe so they can breathe, grow and keep weeds at bay. I learned that wetting the leaves isn’t adequately watering them; instead, you must hammer a hole with a pipe next to the roots and pour water into that hole, allowing it to direct water to the roots, what the Internet said. He told me to save my last batch of shelled pea seeds so I could plant new ones the next year without spending a penny. I discovered ash potatoes and carrots prefer sandy soils, every insect in the world loves eggplants, cucumbers and pickles are the same thing and zucchini is actually better the smaller it is when picked. It sounds a bit elementary, but the truth is, I was raised in a generation where gardening wasn’t needed. With a quick trip to the supermarket these days, everything but the world is at your fingertips – minus a side of good common sense. Throughout my time with Paw-Paw gardening, I learned that sometimes you have to wade through a bit of stinky business (manure) to see a better yield in your life. I learned that patience is always key and that hard work, not shortcuts, pays off in the long run. I learned that the Lord gives us what we need to survive if only we put in the effort to harvest it, that mud is often the best exfoliator, honeybees are your gardening friends and that satisfaction oftentimes accompanies sweat. The truth is, like Paw-Paw, farming is the connection between our past and our future. If we can learn to establish our roots – like the roots of plants – in hard work, dedication, patience and a little trust, we can provide for ourselves and our families while also instilling some of the core values that caused my Paw-Paw’s generation to be deemed the greatest. He once told me that people, like plants, need a little cultivation, a lot of patience and, sometimes, a small cage around them to help keep them straight. His generation has completed their job, now it’s up to mine, and ours, to continue it. That’s what I plan to do – one tomato at a time. where it is needed. I learned that to keep moles at bay all one needs is a half-chewed stick of juicy fruit bubble gum. It was during this time that horse manure became the best fertilizer as Paw-Paw simply couldn’t justify buying it. After all, he never grew up using commercial fertilizer because horse manure was free, and with 20 acres of farmland as a boy, it was his family’s only option. I learned to cross-plant different vegetables and that placement and rotation were essential to soil and plant quality. PawPaw taught me the importance of planting after the blackberries bloomed, not by Erin McDill is a graduate of Mississippi College with a degree in communications-public relations and a minor in sociology. She is completing a “Wellness Works” internship with Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. She and her family live in Rankin County. All photos on this page are courtesy of Erin McDill. 10 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 11 Reaching More Kids With Agriculture BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS Dr. Sandy Slocum, a retired Mississippi State University Extension Agent, will be working part-time with the Ag in the Classroom (AITC) segment of the women’s programs in DeSoto and Tate counties, helping them take agriculture to more schoolchildren. Because of her strong background in ag education and her appreciation for Farm Bureau, volunteer leaders say they are honored to have her on board. They hope this pilot program will ultimately serve as a guide for other county Farm Bureaus across the state. “Dr. Slocum is well-respected within agricultural and Extension circles, and she is a godsend to our county women’s programs. What she brings to the table will definitely strengthen what we are trying to do,” said DeSoto County Women’s Chair Deniese Swindoll, who also serves as Region 1 Women’s Chair. “DeSoto County alone has 40 public schools plus private schools and home-school programs. Our volunteer leaders are stretched to the limit, and that’s a shame. This is an urban area of the state where kids desperately need to hear about agriculture.” Not only does Dr. Slocum bring an additional set of helping hands, she possesses fresh ideas and – one of the biggest pluses of all – she already knows administrators in area public schools from her work with the Extension programs in Tate and DeSoto counties. “She can definitely help us get our Ag in the Classroom program into more schools, and that’s great,” Deniese said. “I can write many carefully worded letters explaining our coloring contest and what we are trying to accomplish with it, and I can hear from the teachers that they want to participate but still get a firm “no” from the principals. That is so frustrating.” State Women’s Chair Betty Mills points out that a cooperative relationship of this type harkens back to the early years when Farm Bureau began taking the Ag in the Classroom program into schools across the state. Founded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1981, Ag in the Classroom (the formal name is Agriculture in the Classroom) is administered in our state by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. Support is offered by the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and the USDAAgriculture in the Classroom Team. The mission of Agriculture in the Classroom is to increase agricultural literacy through K-12 education. “Back in those early years, Women’s Program Director Helen Jenkins had a real struggle getting schoolteachers to accept and use the program in some of the schools,” Betty said. “She had worked in Extension before she came to Farm Bureau so she called her friends and told them she needed their help. Being able to get agriculture’s message to as many schoolchildren as we can, especially kids in urban areas, is what the Ag in the Classroom program is all about.” Dr. Slocum has a Ph.D. in Ag and Extension Education from Mississippi State University (MSU) and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Family and Consumer Science from Auburn University. She worked with the MSU Extension Service for 25 years before retiring. Some of Dr. Slocum’s initial ideas include developing lesson plans and ag education resource kits for every school. To control costs, she is contacting state and national commodity groups and having them send free materials whenever possible. She is also making the games available through the American Farm Bureau Federation’s My American Farm program more user-friendly for third- through fifth-grade teachers, the grades the AITC program targets. “Our AITC materials must be easy to use,” Dr. Slocum said. “If what we give teachers is user-friendly, they will be more inclined to accept the materials and use them when planning their lessons and activities.” Because there are 2,700 fifth-graders alone in the DeSoto County public school system, the pilot program will target the gifted program (Spotlight Program) in 12 schools in DeSoto County. That represents 450 students and 18 to 20 teachers. “It’s easier to get that number of teachers together for training,” Dr. Slocum said. “It is also easier to try out new ideas and see if they work. We will know what works and what doesn’t work before we take this to all of the schools.” In closing, Dr. Slocum says she is excited about working with volunteer leaders in Tate and DeSoto counties, and she is thrilled to be teaching kids again. “When you plant a seed in a child’s mind, he or she will take it home to their parents and your message will spread,” she said. “That’s the way 4-H got started. Extension personnel were having problems selling farmers on new ideas, so they started Corn Clubs and Tomato Clubs and taught kids how to grow those crops. When their parents saw the yields their kids were getting, they were sold on the new ideas. “The Ag in the Classroom program is very similar,” Dr. Slocum said. “In our efforts to reach adults with our message about agriculture, a good place to begin is with schoolchildren.” Deniese Swindoll and Dr. Sandy Slocum 12 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER Tate County Farm Bureau President Mike Ferguson and Dr. Sandy Slocum MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 13 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER Mississippi Farmers Need Farm Bureau BY: GLYNDA PHILLIPS Jasper County Farm Bureau President Lonnie Thigpen joined Farm Bureau in 1970. He has been an active volunteer leader for over two decades. “Ricky Ruffin asked me to serve on the board 23 years ago, and I was happy to do so,” he said. “I have a great deal of respect for Farm Bureau and all that it does to help farmers, especially in the area of lobbying. Farm Bureau is recognized throughout our state and nation as a strong organization that has influence in both the Legislature and Congress.” Lonnie says that a membership in Farm Bureau is a must for farmers in today’s world. Farming has become so complex, with so many issues and challenges that hold the potential to greatly impact a farmer’s daily life and livelihood, that farmers need the support of a strong organization. “We seek out the best-quality bulls in the world and bring some of those pedigrees to local farmers to breed with their cattle,” Lonnie said. “This program has consistently netted our farmers an increase in profit over cattle sold before the program. It has been a big success. “In Jasper County, we also hosted a tree farm conference on my farm that was very successful,” he said. “It brought people in from all over the state plus Tennessee and Alabama. It was geared toward making people aware of the latest practices in managing timber and how to acquire assistance from various agencies and organizations to fund such efforts.” In addition to his work with Farm Bureau, Lonnie serves as a Deputy Commissioner for the Jasper County Soil and Water Conservation District and sits on the board of the Jasper County Forestry Association. He is retired after 35 years of service to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and he served for seven years as a county supervisor. He is a member of the local Alcorn State University alumni chapter. Making a Difference Lonnie has long been involved with a group called Multicounty Community Service Agencies based in Meridian. He has served as chairman of the board for several years. “We depend on private contributions that are matched by federal and state funds, he said. “We help homeless people in nine counties find jobs and places to live, and we have weatherization programs for underprivileged people. We also offer rehabilitation programs for those in need. It has been very successful. Some of the testimonies from the people helped by this program would make you cry. “It’s really important to want to live to improve the quality of your surroundings, and it’s a good feeling as a Christian to help other people,” Lonnie said. “If you live as a Christian, you should be willing to give back to others. My parents were like that, and I learned from them and from my church, Community Center M.B. Church.” Lonnie’s parents, Chester and Rosett Thigpen, were named Tree Farmers of the Year in 1995 for both the state and nation. Lonnie, a cancer survivor, has three grown sons, Lonnie Jr., Kevin and Daniel. His wife, Doris, passed away in January 2013. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is blessed to have many longtime members and devoted volunteer leaders like Lonnie Thigpen of Montrose. “It’s really important to want to live to improve the quality of your surroundings.” – LONNIE THIGPEN “I’ve made many friends through Farm Bureau and shared ideas about farmrelated issues that we needed to contact our legislators about,” he said. “We’ve also shared ideas about how to better grow and market our commodities.” Bull Lease Program In recent years, Jasper County Farm Bureau joined with Smith County Farm Bureau to establish a Bull Lease Program for local cattle producers. 14 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 15 A Long Line Of Talented Cooks BY: GLYNDA PHILLIPS Cooking is one of Heather Dolan’s favorite pastimes. In fact, she hails from a long line of talented cooks, having learned from her mother, who in turn learned from hers. “My mother and grandmother use many of the old recipes, and you can’t beat them,” Heather said. “Anything made from scratch is always better. My mother is known for her fried chicken, but she also makes delicious homemade biscuits. “One thing she makes that she got from my grandmother is her Sessum’s Cheese. She takes hoop cheese, butter and one egg and cooks them together in the oven. We eat that with one of her homemade biscuits, and it is always fabulous.” (See the accompanying recipes.) Considering all of this, it should come as no surprise to learn that Heather’s pimiento cheese spread recently placed first in the appetizer category in a recipe contest sponsored by Mississippi magazine. Versatile Recipe “My mom told me I needed to enter the contest,” Heather said, recounting how she came to submit her recipe. “She pushed me to do it. When they called and let me know that I was a finalist, I couldn’t believe it. When they told me I had won first place in my category, I was so excited. “ Heather developed her unique take on a traditional Southern comfort food while looking for foods that she and her husband, Jody, could take with them camping. They have camped in almost every state park in Mississippi plus parks in other states. “When you go camping, you need lots of quick and easy foods that can be made in advance and that will keep for two or three days. I also wanted to come up with my own pimiento cheese spread because I don’t care for a lot of mayonnaise. I wanted something different.” Heather’s recipe includes three cheeses – sharp cheddar, pepper jack and cream cheese – plus sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, pepper and, of course, pimientos. (For the complete recipe, see the May/June 2013 issue of Mississippi magazine.) Heather has since found different ways to use what started out as simply a great sandwich spread. “Jody wanted to see what would happen if we melted the spread like a fondue,” she said. “So we melted it in the microwave, and it was really good.” Heather also rolls the spread into a cheese ball, which she covers with roasted pecans. She serves it with pepper jelly, and it is delicious. “You can dip the spread in an egg wash mixture, roll it in bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs and deep-fat fry it,” she said. “It is really good. To eat, you simply dip it in Captain Rodney’s Sweet and Sour Sauce.” The most recent idea was to use the spread as a stuffing in hamburgers. “I take two thin hamburger patties and place a little more than a teaspoon of pimiento cheese between them. As I fry the burgers, the spread doesn’t leak out. It stays right in there, and it is delicious. I call it my Juicy Lucy hamburger.” Seasoning a Skillet In addition to cooking, Heather enjoys collecting cast iron skillets and handmade wooden spoons. “I love to cook with cast iron, and I find that if you season a cast iron skillet correctly, it works just as well as any Teflon product.” Here are Heather’s tips for seasoning a cast iron skillet: • Spray the skillet with a nonstick cooking spray like PAM or rub it down with vegetable oil using a paper towel. • Set your oven at the lowest setting and place the skillet in there for three hours. Heather sets her at 175 degrees. • Let the skillet cool then wipe it down and use it. • Spray it with a cooking spray after you clean it every time, and that keeps it seasoned. “My mother and grandmother use many of the old recipes, and you can’t beat them.” – HEATHER DOLAN 16 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER Heather and Jody run commercial cattle and grow hay on their Jasper County farm near Louin. Jody also works for the Mississippi Board of Animal Health, and Heather is a staff auditor with the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor. They have one child, Macy, 2. The Dolans are past members of the Young Farmers & Ranchers State Committee, where Heather served as secretary. They have been named regional YF&R Achievement Award and Excellence in Agriculture winners. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 17 Heather Recipes Mama’s Biscuits 2 cups of White Lily Self-Rising Flour ¼ cup of shortening 2/ 3 to ¾ cup of buttermilk ¼ cup melted butter Dolan’s Cut shortening into flour, make a well in center of flour and fill with buttermilk. Stir into flour until it all comes together, making sure not to over-mix. Place on a floured board and fold over three times and pat out with hands until about ½ to ¾-inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and place in a greased iron skillet. Brush with melted butter. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown. Makes about seven to eight biscuits. Sessum’s Cheese 1 10-oz. block of Kraft Sharp Cheddar Cheese or ½ lb. Sharp Red Rind Cheddar Cheese ½ to ¾ stick of butter 1 egg well beaten Cut cheese and butter into small cubes and place in an ovensafe dish. Place in a 400-degree oven until cheese and butter melts. Remove from oven and whip in the well-beaten egg. Serve with hot biscuits. Ag in the Classroom Trailer The new Ag in the Classroom trailer will be taking the model cotton gin, dairy cow and other agricultural resource materials to schools, fairs and other events across the state in 2014. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation staff and local women’s chairs will also be giving agricultural presentations in classrooms using the materials. For more information, call Women’s Programs and Ag in the Classroom Coordinator Clara Bilbo at (601) 977-4245 or Women’s Programs Specialist Pam Jones at (601) 977-4854. Beef Enchiladas 1 to 2 lbs. of ground chuck 1 pkg. taco seasoning ¼ cup water 1 Tbsp. cornstarch 2 cans of ole El Paso enchilada sauce 8 medium flour tortillas 1 (8 oz.) package of shredded Mexican-blend cheese “I love to cook with cast iron, and I find that if you season a cast iron skillet correctly, it works just as well as any Teflon product.” Brown ground chuck in skillet, drain fat and add seasoning and water, simmer until water evaporates. With a whisk, mix together cornstarch and one can of enchilada sauce until no lumps are present. Then add enchilada sauce mixture to meat mixture and simmer until thickened. Take one tortilla and add 1/ 8 of meat mixture and a sprinkling of grated cheese and roll up. Place in a greased 9x13 casserole dish with tortilla seams facing down. Continue with remaining ingredients. You should end up with eight enchiladas in your dish. Pour a can of enchilada sauce over top of enchiladas and top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and bubbling. 18 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 19 S lve the Mystery Our mystery town began as the Lehrton Community on the banks of the Sunflower River. When the railroad came through in the late 1800s, Lehrton moved to be closer to it and was renamed for a prominent local family. Agriculture has always been important to this Sunflower County town. Back in the early years, it boasted two or three cotton gins; today, area farmers primarily grow grain. The town was also once home to Noel Industries, which made blue jeans. Read the clues and make your guess. The Town Today Our mystery town’s largest employer is North Sunflower Medical Center. The downtown area is in a rebuilding stage and boasts a variety of businesses, including two banks. You will also find Freedom Plaza. The late Duff Dorrough, a well-known local artist and musician, painted murals at Freedom Plaza and elsewhere in the downtown area. Our mystery town boasts several blues markers and the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden. The town is a close community of approximately 3,500 citizens. It is the hometown of the late Hugh M. Arant, a past Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation president. Each September, our mystery town hosts the Great Roast & Run, which includes music, children’s activities, arts and crafts and a Memphis BBQ Network barbecue. Luster Bayless Our mystery town is home to the Luster Bayless Hollywood Movie Costume Museum. Bayless, 75, grew up the son of sharecroppers and as a young adult hitchhiked to Hollywood, possessing little more than the dream of a better life. Through hard work and determination, Bayless went on to become a renowned costumer and costume designer in the entertainment industry. 20 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER He worked for Western Costume for two years, joined Disney Studios for five years and became John Wayne’s costumer for the rest of the movies and days of The Duke’s life. Bayless founded United American Costume Company in North Hollywood, California, which is now run by his daughter, Diana Foster. The company specializes in American history from the 1700s to the 1970s and boasts two 25,000-square-foot warehouses filled with costumes and uniforms that can be rented for movie and television projects. Many of the costumes are reproductions, but some are originals. The business also prides itself on its collection of military uniforms, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. The most recent movie costumed by the company was “Django Unchained.” A recent television mini-series was “Hatfields and McCoys.” A current television show is “Mad Men.” The museum features exhibits of costumes from a variety of movies and television shows, all costumed by Bayless and his company. It also boasts articles of clothing from movie stars that Bayless did not dress, including Marilyn Monroe, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Debbie Reynolds and Jane Russell, to name a few. Luster Bayless The Luster Bayless Hollywood Movie Costume Museum is located in a former clothing store built in the early 20th century. Bayless says he was often chased away from the store when he was a kid for standing out front admiring the shoe display. He made a point of buying the building when it came up for sale. You can make a point of visiting the museum, which is located at 116 Ruby Street. For more information, call (662) 756-0111. Name our mystery town. 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. 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 Nov. 30. September/October The correct answer for the September/ October Solve the Mystery is Coldwater. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 21 Dollar Diplomacy “How much of our country’s foreign policy is based on common sense?” I think the answer would be the same, unfortunately. COUNSEL’S CORNER Historians believe that the harsh terms of the peace treaty following World War I (the war to end all wars), which laid Germany prostrate, was a major factor in the meteoritic rise of Hitler and the National Socialist Nazis in the 1920s and 30s. Woodrow Wilson wanted a less harsh treaty, but Congress would not support him and would not even agree to the U.S. joining the League of Nations. Learning from history, the victorious U.S. adopted the Marshall Plan to help rebuild the defeated Axis Powers after World War II, and it worked. But from there, foreign aid was like kudzu covering everything and, once started, became an irresistible force throughout the world. It keeps relentlessly growing. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote, “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Note that he did not disparage consistency but only the foolish kind. Churchill once asked one of his critics to “turn this over in what you are pleased to call your mind.” With what I call my mind, I am constantly puzzled by our country’s consistent efforts and policy to buy the friendship of the world. England tried it in 1938 and 1939, when it was called appeasement, and Prime Minister Chamberlain returned from a meeting with Hitler and told his people that he brought them, “Peace in our time.” Soon after, Hitler invaded Poland. I may be like Al Capp, the creator of the famous comic strip, “Lil Abner,” who referred to himself as an expert on nothing with opinions on everything, but that’s what the First Amendment is all about. The money this country spends on foreign aid each year is enormous, about $60 billion. How many of its recipients would quickly come to our aid if needed? How many are fair-weather friends with fair weather being defined as keeping deep open pockets? Has anyone ever bought a good friend, much less a deceitful country? I want to be clear that I am not criticizing humanitarian aid for the hungry, the sick and the dispossessed. Our foreign aid is largely for economic aid and military aid. Don’t bother to calculate what percentage of those recipients stood with us in Iraq (twice) and in Afghanistan because you don’t want the answer – another not much. It appears that Teddy Roosevelt’s policy of speak softly but carry a big stick has morphed into speak loudly but carry a big wallet. And who is responsible for this – the president, Congress, the CIA? Yes and no. The bottom line is that the American people are responsible, though we would all like to have someone else to blame. If the question was posed to me of what have you done, I couldn’t get up to the not-much standard. My only answer would be nothing, so I must be one of the hobgoblins Emerson mentioned. The one constant in life is change; yet the more things change, the more they stay the same. Make sense? Not much. BY SAM E. SCOTT, MFBF GENERAL COUNSEL In my library is my father’s copy of Dale Carnegie’s famous book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” which made its author a worldwide celebrity and sold millions of copies. It was the modern beginning of a literary genre now known as “self-help.” Nowhere in it or the following multitudes on the subject say, “Buy them.” And yet, isn’t that what our foreign policy does or seeks to do? Anyone reading this could easily ask, “What does that old fool know about diplomacy?” The answer would be, “Not much.” But what if the question was: Sam E. Scott is general counsel for Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and practices law in the Law Firm of Samuel E. Scott, PLLC, in Jackson. The foregoing information is general in nature and is not intended as nor should be considered specific legal advice, nor to be considered as MFBF’s position or opinion. 22 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 23 Strengthening a County Farm Bureau BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS In the not so distant past, Leflore County Farm Bureau enjoyed a high level of interest and involvement in its programs. In recent years, attendance at meetings had dwindled down to just a few board members. Since volunteer leaders did not want to see Leflore County Farm Bureau die, they began to brainstorm solutions. The one that stood out from the rest was to hire an expert to help them promote their programs. Volunteer leaders presented their idea to their regional manager and the state office. Upon receiving approval to proceed, a job description was drawn up for the new contract position called “County Coordinator,” and Vicki Morgan of Greenwood was hired. She is the current Executive Director of the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association. She is a retired Communications/Public Relations Director for Staplcotn. She has also worked in the banking industry. “Our first step toward increasing Leflore County Farm Bureau’s visibility was to submit a photo to the local newspaper of some of the officers and myself announcing the new position,” she said. “It appeared in the Sunday edition and generated a lot of interest.” The next photo was of the Leflore County Farm Bureau Commodity Display. “Leflore County Women’s Chair Gail O’Neal had set up an interesting and educational display on bees and honey, and I wanted the community to see the kind of effort that went into it,” Vicki said. “Again, we took the photo ourselves, sent it to the local paper, and they ran it. “When you are trying to generate interest in your county program, use your local media. Remember, you are trying to build a strong identity within the community. The effort has to begin at the grassroots level.” In May, Leflore County Farm Bureau purchased a half-page ad in a special agricultural edition of the local newspaper. “Since we were buying a half-page ad promoting member benefits, I asked the editor if he would consider doing a story on Leflore County Farm Bureau, and he agreed.” The two-page spread featured a photo of the county president and Vicki, along with an article that talked about what Farm Bureau does for farmers and how agriculture affects us all, both directly and indirectly. The article also talked about the Member Benefits package and what Farm Bureau members gain access to when they join. In addition, the newspaper ran a photo of the Leflore County Farm Bureau board meeting in May. “The more exposure you can get for your program the better,” Vicki said. “In addition to using the local media, reach out and become involved in your community. People will realize you are there, and if they don’t already know, they will begin to understand what Farm Bureau does for farmers and the rest of its members.” Vicki and Region 3 Regional Manager Britton Hatcher have talked about Farm Bureau at a local Lion’s Club meeting. They are scheduling speaking engagements with other local clubs and groups. To promote June Dairy Month, a model milk cow named Loo Loo Leflore was created by a local artist and used with a program at the Leflore County Farm Bureau office. Over 75 children visited and learned how to milk a cow. The cow was also used at the local farmers market, and the booth was a hit! Loo Loo Leflore was featured in the newspaper twice, and volunteer leaders intend to take her into some of the elementary schools. As an additional step to improve visibility, Leflore County Farm Bureau is renovating its office building, adding new outside signage and landscaping the entrance. “We want to participate in the Business after Hours program through the local chamber of commerce,” Vicki said. “We also want to encourage groups to use our boardroom for community meetings. The more people we can get coming through the doors the better.” Upcoming plans for Leflore County Farm Bureau include sponsoring a Cotton Ball maid at the Junior Auxiliary Charity Cotton Ball, having a booth at the GreenwoodLeflore County Chamber of Commerce’s Salute to Agriculture, having Vicki represent Leflore County Farm Bureau on the chamber’s ag committee, making a donation to the Mississippi Agricultural and Aviation Museum for their renovation project and running radio spots provided by Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation on harvest safety in the fall. Vicki offers these additional suggestions for generating interest in a county program. “Sit down with your directors and talk about goals. Remember to take small steps. One of the first and easiest things we did was to get photos in the local newspaper. Another crucial step was to strengthen our board of directors. Communication is critical to a strong group. I contact board members regularly, texting, emailing and phoning, to keep them informed about public relations efforts, meetings, etc. From four members at quarterly board meetings, we now have a steady 12 members plus the local Extension representative and office staff. “Work closely with your regional manager. They are an excellent source of information and help. Finally, find volunteer leaders willing to work with you to strengthen the program. “We have a great organization. Let’s work hard to keep it dynamic and growing.” 24 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 25 two different models of about a dozen birdhouses, and those quickly sold out, too. It became obvious that people were interested in birdhouses. As time went along, the birdhouses grew larger and more attractive as Jerry crafted them using heart pine lumber from old barns, hence, the name Heartwood. When the demand for the houses continued to grow, he began to use cypress lumber and recycled mahogany from old furniture. These woods are strong, durable and resistant to rot. Today, Heartwood has introduced a third material called PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It is durable, attractive and white, so that it doesn’t need to be painted. Heartwood Company in Star is a true American success story. Brothers Larry and Jerry Glass had an idea to build and sell attractive, high-quality birdhouses, and through talent, hard work and determination, turned their idea into a successful business that today enjoys customers from across the state and nation. Growing a Business Larry came on board as the business began to grow. “I had worked in sales for many years, but I was getting out of that and into real estate, and I wanted something more to do,” Larry said. “I saw possibilities with the birdhouses and began trying to think of ways to sell them outside of Mississippi.” Some friends encouraged the Glass brothers to take their birdhouses to AmericasMart in Atlanta. It is the largest gift show market in the world, with 6,000 vendors and 50,000 to 60,000 buyers from around the world. “I called to ask how much their booth space cost,” Larry said. “I figured they would tell me $300 to $500. When she said $2,000, I just hung up the phone. When you factored in lodging, gas and meals, it would have been too expensive.” But their friends believed so deeply in what they were trying to do that they sent the brothers a check for $2,000 and encouraged them to attend the show. “We sent the check back,” Larry said, his eyes filling with tears. “But we decided to attend the market and finance it ourselves.” Larry says he and Jerry felt like the Beverly Hillbillies when they stepped inside the building where their booth was located. AmericasMart is held in downtown Atlanta and consists of four 20-story buildings with booths selling the wares of multi-million-dollar companies. “We walked in with 20 models of our birdhouses and were promptly overwhelmed by the sophistication of the items in the booths around ours. We figured we had wasted our time coming.” But the brothers showed up the next morning anyway, and by 9:30, a woman had approached them to place an order. They thought, “Well, if we don’t get another one, this is great.” But soon enough, another customer approached and another until a line had formed. All day, for three and a half days, the brothers took orders. So then their dilemma became … How do we fill them all? “We had no inventory and no boxes so we decided to just try and get the birdhouses made and the orders filled as quickly as possible,” Larry said. The brothers began to ship out birdhouses, and in the midst of this, the phone rang. A business they had shipped to earlier wanted to reorder because the first order had sold out already. The brothers got another call like that and another. This went on all week. “It took us six to eight months to fill the orders and reorders and catch up,” Larry said. “We realized we had a concept that would work. We also knew that there were other companies doing the same thing and we needed to upgrade our products to make them more attractive and appealing.” Here is their story. The Beginning In 1998, Jerry and his wife, Lynda, began making decorative wall plaques, door hangers and towel hangers to sell at Saturday morning craft shows in little towns in the area. They wanted to accompany their best friends, who regularly sold frames at the shows, and figured as long as they were there they might as well sell something, too. “Jerry and Lynda enjoyed the craft shows. They sold some items, and this went along for a while, until my mother suggested they make birdhouses,” Larry said.“She tore a page out of a magazine that featured a picture of a birdhouse she loved, and she gave it to them.” Jerry and Lynda’s first birdhouses were small and more decorative than functional. They took a half-dozen of them to a craft show and were surprised when they sold out first. For the next show, they took Architecture for the Birds An American Success Story BY GLYNDA PHILLIPS 26 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 27 Road to Success With Jerry as the designer and Larry as the salesman, the business took off. But the road to success hasn’t been easy. Heartwood has weathered its share of setbacks, including a devastating electrical fire in 2000 that destroyed all of their patterns, inventory and equipment. The brothers made the decision to rebuild, and the business slowly recovered. A recessive economy, beginning in 2008, forced Larry and Jerry rethink their entire operation. They began to diversify their inventory, making and selling other items besides birdhouses. Today, Heartwood offers 200 different models of birdhouses, plus butterfly and ladybug houses, bat houses, owl houses, bee equipment, beetle traps, outdoor furniture and cypress lumber. All of their products are American-made and all are handcrafted. The company will introduce its first line of bird feeders in 2014. The Heartwood compound consists of several large buildings on Mangum Drive in Star, including a headquarters building made from a silo, which the brothers got from a farm in Simpson County. The silo is made to look like a giant birdhouse. When Jerry retired last year, Larry bought him out. But Jerry continues to come in four days a week to design the different models of birdhouses and feeders. He also builds special machinery for some of the unique details like the shingles on roofs. No one else in the world has that particular piece of equipment. In addition, Heartwood contracts out certain elements of their products like the copper roofs, which are made by a local craftsman. Heartwood birdhouses are known for their distinctive and beautiful architecture. Besides Larry and Jerry, other members of the staff include James Enochs, assembly; Valorie Donnell, paints; Ryan Glass, shipping; John Brown, shingler; Betty Hodge, secretary; Ricky Adcock, assembly; and Janine Mangum, assistant. Come See Us The folks at Heartwood invite you to come see them. They are primarily a wholesale operation, but they do sell products on their website and out of their facilities in Star. People drop by off and on all day. For more information, visit the website at www.eheartwood.com or call (601) 845-8600 or toll-free (888) 490-9046. Berta White Scholarship Recipients Berta White Scholarship recipients were honored during a special August luncheon with the State Women’s Committee. The $2,000 scholarship is annually presented to deserving female college students. Recipients are pictured with committee members and 2013 Teacher of the Year Melissa Johnson, who teaches seventh and eighth-grade science at Iuka Middle School, Iuka. Melissa received an all-expense-paid trip to the national Ag in the Classroom conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Front row, from left, are State Women’s Chair Betty Mills; Melissa Johnson; 2013 Farm Bureau Ambassador Alternate Collin Ray Hutcheson, Lee County. Second row, from left, are scholarship winner Jessica Wilkinson, Franklin County; scholarship winner Courtney Wade, Jasper County; and scholarship winner Kaitlyn Ford, Smith County. Third row, from left, are Region 1 Women’s Chair Deniese Swindoll; Region 2 Women’s Chair Kay Perkins; Region 5 Women’s Chair Betty Edwards; Region 7 Women’s Chair Carolyn Turner; and Region 8 Women’s Chair Wanda Hill. Not pictured are 2013 Farm Bureau Ambassador Molly Martin, Rankin County; scholarship winner Joanna King, Yazoo County; Region 3 Women’s Chair Peggy McKey; and Region 4 Women’s Chair Jody Bailey. 28 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 29 Enjoying All That Mississippi’s Land has to Offer BY DOUG ERVIN MFBF Land Program Director In 2013, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Land Program was involved in several facets of the land industry, including mineral rights (staying updated on the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Play in Southwest Mississippi), private property rights, taxes, agritourism (a growing industry in itself), recreational uses of land and ways to improve idle land. The Land Use Committee has also included wildlife resources and rural development as integral parts of the MFBF Land Program because of their importance and economic impact to the overall economy of the state. The MFBF Land Program is designed to give Mississippi landowners an opportunity to discuss and recommend solutions to problems that directly affect their land and often their livelihoods. Through this program, landowners are able to accomplish the following: • Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA/ARS Wildlife-associated recreation in Mississippi collectively generates $2.7 billion in economic impacts from goods and services and creates 71,435 jobs. Hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching activities make an important contribution to the Mississippi economy. Rural land values with recreation: • $654 per-acre increase • Enhanced values of hardwood forests Landowners receive valueadded benefits: • Enhanced income • Cost-share assistance • Control access • Wildlife habitat management • Enhanced land stewardship and retention taxes When you get your tax bill for your land each year, you may ask yourself, “How did they arrive at the amount due?” Let me try to clear some of the confusion and walk us through the process, from the initial evaluation to the tax bill and a few points in between. The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MSDOR) works closely with Mississippi State University (MSU) to set the agriculture use values in all 82 counties. This complicated process is completed annually and requires a lot of accurate data to arrive at values for each type of soil. There are five categories of non-cultivatable soils and five classes of cultivatable soils. In addition, the state is divided into seven regions. Using soil survey maps provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and data gathered over the previous 10 years, MSU determines the value of each soil class within each of the seven regions. By using data gathered over a 10-year time frame, there will not be as many “swings” in value as if you used only the previous year. Value cannot fluctuate more than 10 percent in any given year. Mississippi Code 27-35-50 serves as the guideline that the MSDOR and your county tax assessor use to defend the ag use values. In order to determine the agriculture use value of your particular land, the tax assessor must first determine if the land is cultivatable or non-cultivatable. Aerial photography is used in this process. Each county has a soil map based on the soil surveys provided by the NRCS and used by MSU. The soil maps are overlayed with the current ownership maps so that the exact acreage of each type of soil can be calculated. The value, as determined by MSU, of each soil type is multiplied by the number of acres, and all are added together to determine the “true” value for tax purposes for each parcel of land. This figure is multiplied by 15 percent, which is the assessment ratio given to agriculture use of land. That assessed value is multiplied by the county tax rate based on which district the land is located in. Some counties will add a forestry tax on timber land that goes to the Mississippi Forestry Commission. These monies are used to help fund the fire crews that help fight forest fires. The MFBF Land Program is helping those who love and promote Mississippi agriculture and wildlife resources, while being good stewards of the land, so that many generations to come can enjoy all that our land in Mississippi has to offer. Identify and recommend issues for policy development; • Identify emerging issues related to land; • Offer suggestions or clarification of existing policies; and • Assist in the process of policy implementation when necessary. Outdoor Recreation The white-tailed deer is the image of Mississippi’s hunting heritage. The economic impact of the white-tailed deer in Mississippi is $860.33 million. This includes 28,026 jobs, $393.69 million in wages and $535.26 million in value-added. A special thanks to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Daryl Jones with the Mississippi State University Natural Resource Enterprises program and Jeff Mullins for their help with this article. 30 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 31 2013-2014 Young Farmers & Ranchers Foundation Recipients Taylor Anne King, Yazoo County $3,000 HughÂ Arant Scholarship $3,000 Young Farmers & Ranchers Scholarship Samuel Irby, Scott County Jessica Wilson, Rankin County $3,000 Young Farmers & Ranchers Scholarship Skyler deRegt, Washington County $3,000 Young Farmers & Ranchers Scholarship Keiton Croom, George County $3,000 Don Waller Scholarship Kayla Williams, Clarke County $3,000 David Waide Scholarship Jessica Smith, Pearl River County $3,000 Young Farmers & Ranchers Scholarship 32 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 33 As a Farm Bureau member, you have access to many programs and benefits. To learn more, visit our website at www.msfb.org or see the Member Benefits information on pages 2 and 3. 34 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY 35 36 MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER