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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.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE Luis Monterde of Lamar County helped to build the commercial blueberry industry in our state. Come with us as we learn more about this outstanding Mississippi farmer.

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

FARM FACTS Robert St. John writes about visiting a friend’s 40-acre blueberry farm in Purvis. He also includes a recipe.

EDITOR — Glynda Phillips ADVERTISING Angela Ellis 1-800-227-8244 ext. 4242 FARM BUREAU OFFICERS President – Mike McCormick Vice President (North) – Donald Gant Vice President (Central) – Ted Kendall IV Vice President (South) – Reggie Magee Treasurer – Billy Davis Corporate Secretary – Kent Bloodworth FARM BUREAU DIRECTORS Carla Taylor, Prentiss Mike Graves, Tippah Jeff Hollowell, Lafayette Preston Arrington, Sunflower Gabriela Brasher, Tallahatchie Neal Huskison, Pontotoc Scott O’Brian, Clay Joe Huerkamp, Noxubee David Hayward, Grenada James Rasberry, Attala William Jones, Lauderdale Max Anderson, Newton James R. Ford, Smith Josh Miller, Sharkey Tammy Layton, Simpson Noble Guedon, Adams Pud Stringer, Marion Larry Jefcoat, Jones Clayton Lawrence Jr., George Perry Meyers, Jackson Betty Mills, Montgomery Luke Andrews, Bolivar

19 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS Farm Bureau scholarships have been awarded to a number of deserving students. Come with us as we meet these outstanding young men and women.

10 STATE CONVENTION Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation will hold its annual membership meeting on Dec. 1-4 in Jackson. See the agenda of convention highlights inside.


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.



ABOUT THE COVER Luis Monterde is pictured in a blueberry field. Read his story inside this issue of our membership magazine.





The American Dream My Farm Bureau responsibilities keep me very busy nowadays, but whenever I get the opportunity, I head home to Jefferson County. I still farm the same land my ancestors farmed in the 1820s. I still worship at the same church they helped to establish 200 years ago this year. My job as president of the Mike McCormick largest general farm organizaPresident, Mississippi tion in Mississippi is a dream Farm Bureau Federation come true, but the minute I set foot on my land near Union Church, I am reminded once again why I farm. Farmers are just a different breed, I guess. Who else would relish spending the entire day — from sunrise to well after sunset — working outdoors in the heat and cold, wind and rain, tending to their crops and livestock? Who else would eagerly pour their blood, sweat and tears into a farming operation only to see it upended by the weather or rising input costs or falling commodity prices, to name just a few of the challenges farmers encounter in any given year? I’m just a born farmer. It’s my family’s legacy, and I’m proud of that fact. I suspect you feel the same way, too. Each year, our land-grant institutions, Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, help farmers excel at what they do. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Because of their tireless efforts, we are able to farm smarter and more efficiently than ever before in our nation’s history. As a result, consumers have access to an abundant, safe and affordable supply of food, fiber and fuel. When the 2018 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature convenes on Jan. 2, I encourage you to make sure your local lawmakers know how important our landgrant institutions are to all Mississippians. It is imperative that we keep agricultural research adequately funded. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation also strives to make sure farmers have the environment they need to successfully do their jobs. This year, in addition to assist-



ing those farmers affected by adverse weather conditions, we provided all farmers with information about the latest developments in agricultural research and technology. We spoke up about state and national issues impacting agriculture. We supported programs that took agriculture’s message to the consuming public and programs that helped shape the agricultural leaders of tomorrow. We have an excellent staff here at the state office, but we couldn’t do what we do without the efforts of our hundreds of volunteer leaders across the state. The theme of this year’s state convention, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work,” pretty much says it all. Together, we can accomplish so much more than we could ever accomplish alone. Speaking of state convention, it’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. As our harvesting efforts wind down and the holiday season approaches, let’s remember to give thanks for our nation’s farmers and for the dedicated men and women who work to strengthen our farming industry. Let’s also give thanks for the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Here in this great nation, we have an opportunity to dream big and work hard to build a successful life for ourselves and our families. I can think of no finer example of this than Luis Monterde of Lamar County. Luis is a longtime friend of agriculture and a dedicated Farm Bureau volunteer leader who helped build our state’s commercial blueberry industry. Fleeing communism, he came to this country from Cuba many years ago with (in his own words) “just my body and a willingness to work hard.” Luis became an American citizen and built a successful life for himself in the southern region of our state. More importantly, he made a point of giving back to our farming industry in many significant ways. As with most Mississippians, Luis’ deep faith in God guided him through the good years and the challenging years. His faith remains strong today. I invite you to read Luis Monterde’s inspiring story inside this issue of our membership magazine. As always, I covet your prayers and support. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing you at state convention in December. FB


Cultivate Estate Planning and Reap Benefits B Y J U D S K E LT O N — D I R E C T O R O F D E V E L O P M E N T, M I S S I S S I P P I S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y F O U N D AT I O N

The business of farming can be a challenge, requiring considerable planning and carefully developed strategies. Farmers know that timely preparation is essential to optimizing outcomes. However, as the time for retirement nears, few farmers realize the wealth of opportunities available to assist with financial plans for the future. The Mississippi State University (MSU) Foundation’s team of professionals is ready to help farmers develop an advantageous financial plan that can also involve a specific charity. In fact, establishing a charitable remainder trust (CRT) can lead to a mutually beneficial result for a donor, as well as the preferred charity. For older farmers who are contemplating retirement, a CRT is a viable option to provide certain tax advantages and great benefits. For many, financial planning is not a luxury, but simply essential. With MSU, farmers and landowners can obtain a lifetime income through a charitable gift, while also avoiding certain taxes. Some sources for funding a CRT include real property — land, equipment and grain — among other options. Capital gains taxes often are a concern for many farmers who own appreciated stock or real estate. Similarly, those who have recently sold appreciated property may be looking for a way to offset a current tax liability through a charitable deduction. As individuals approach their retirement years, it is crucial to evaluate available opportunities for securing and increasing income in the future. For all of these reasons, a CRT should be considered. What is a CRT? A CRT is a tax-exempt trust that can be used to unlock the appreciation in property that has increased in value and provide a retirement income to the donor or loved ones for life or a term of years. When the trust terminates, the remaining assets pass to a charity. Since a CRT avoids capital gains tax on any property it sells, the property’s full value is preserved for use in making distributions. Funding a CRT often can generate higher payments than if the property had simply been sold and reinvested. The donor also receives a partial, current charitable income tax deduction since the trust assets will ultimately go to a charity, such as the MSU Foundation. Flexible Payouts with Tax Rewards: A CRT pays either a fixed amount (an annuity trust) or a variable amount (a unitrust) each

year to one or more individuals (the trust beneficiaries). Unitrusts have the potential to provide a stream of payments that grow over time if the underlying principal grows, and are well suited to gifts of real property or other complex assets. Unitrusts also offer greater planning flexibility. For example, property with little or no current income can be transferred to a unitrust and held until a future sale, after which payments to the beneficiaries increase to the full unitrust amount. Farmers and other individuals should always consult with their professional tax adviser or attorney for the latest information regarding estate planning and taxes; however, the MSU Foundation has professionals, like me, who are available to work with landowners

and their advisers to explore the benefits of charitable remainder trusts and other charitable planning options. There is no time like the present to consider charitable gift plans before calendar year 2017 draws to a close. For a personal illustration regarding a CRT established through real estate, stock or other means, contact our team at MSU by calling (662) 617-0946 or email For more information on supporting Mississippi State University through the MSU Foundation, visit Jud Skelton is director of development for Mississippi State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A native of the Mississippi Delta, he is a Mississippi State University graduate who joined the MSU Foundation in 2001. FB

With MSU, farmers and landowners can obtain a lifetime income through a charitable gift, while also avoiding certain taxes. Some sources for funding a charitable remainder trust include real property — land, equipment and grain — among other options. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017




★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

BY JUSTIN FERGUSON Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation National Affairs Coordinator & Commodity Coordinator for Major Row Crops

August Recess: A Prime Time for Grassroots Advocacy Each year, Congress recesses for the month of August. Congres- issues. On Aug. 4, MFBF served as host to Jimmy Stringer, Legislasional members and staff spend this important time visiting with tive Assistant to Congressman Gregg Harper. Stringer toured sevconstituents, hosting town hall meetings, touring new factories and eral farms across the district, visited with local leaders, and hosted projects, and discussing issues with various interest groups while in a group lunch with a number of agricultural organizations. the district and state. The month of August is also a very busy time On Aug. 18, Congressman Gregg Harper was the keynote speaker for most farmers. Corn is being harvested, at the Lincoln County Farm Bureau Legislahay is being cut and baled, and many poultive Dinner in Brookhaven. On Aug. 24, the try growers are busy shipping birds. It would Lee County Farm Bureau welcomed ConTHE MONTH OF AUGUST be a challenge to get our farmers and ranchgressman Trent Kelly as special guest to the IS A BUSY TIME FOR ers to Washington, D.C., to visit with policy Lee County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting FARMING, BUT IT’S ALSO makers on key issues in August. in Tupelo. On Aug. 25, MFBF hosted Brett As a grassroots policy organization, with Richards, Legislative Counsel to U.S. Sen. A VERY BUSY TIME FOR members in every county in the state and all Roger Wicker, at MFBF headquarters for GRASSROOTS ADVOCACY four Mississippi congressional districts, the policy briefings and a Mississippi agricultural ON THE FARM. month of August presents us with a key oppororganization roundtable. Brett then toured tunity for our members to be involved in the Gaddis Farms in Bolton. And finally, on Aug. political process. It’s truly a prime time for local 30-31, MFBF hosted Laura Lee Burkett, Leggrassroots advocacy for our farm organization. islative Assistant to Congressman Steven PalaIt gives us a chance to visit with our congreszzo, in South Mississippi for a look at several sional members and their staffs on our farms key policy issues firsthand at the farm level. and ranches to see firsthand many of the issues confronting agriculture. These visits have allowed our members to discuss issues with our This August has been no different. Mississippi Farm Bureau Fed- policy makers on their farms and build relationships that will last eration (MFBF) members and staff have been busy hosting tours on for years. The month of August is a busy time for farming, but it’s farms and visiting with members of Congress and their staffs on key also a very busy time for grassroots advocacy on the farm. FB

Brett Richards, Legislative Counsel to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, visits with Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Central Mississippi Vice President Ted Kendal IV of Gaddis Farms in Bolton during corn harvest.



U.S. Representative Trent Kelly was the keynote speaker at the Lee County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Pictured are Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, Congressman Kelly, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) North Mississippi Vice President Donald Gant, State Representative Shane Aguirre, and MFBF Region2 Regional Manager Terry Norwood.

U.S. Representative Gregg Harper addresses the crowd at the Lincoln County Farm Bureau Legislative Dinner.

Laura Lee Burkett, Legislative Aide to U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo, visits with Bud, Rita and Steve Seward on their farm in Jackson County.


Luis is pictured holding frozen blueberries at the Purvis packing shed, where he also took American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall on a tour this summer.




uis Monterde, 75, of B & M Blueberry Farm in LumMost of Mississippi’s blueberry production is concentrated in berton was one of the first farmers in Mississippi to grow the southern counties. blueberries commercially. Working closely with researchers at Mississippi State University’s (MSU) South Mississippi INDUSTRY CHALLENGES Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, Luis helped to build the Luis says the single biggest challenge for Mississippi blueberry state’s blueberry industry. growers is finding and keeping reliable labor. After the 2017 season, “One day a perfect stranger approached me and asked if I had he says he will use 100 percent mechanical harvesting. ever thought of growing blueberries,” he said. “I thought why not? Economies of scale is another big issue. Luis says Mississippi And so it began.” used to have over 200 blueberry growers. Today, there are maybe Under the guidance of Dr. John Braswell and Dr. Jim Spiers 100 growers. He says small growers can’t survive if they can’t afford (both now retired), Luis planted his first 20 bushes in 1980. He to buy the necessary equipment. Therefore, the industry now has says he had berries the second year, which he ate. When he had 600 less growers with more acres. bushes that were producing berries, he says he started making money. At times, the weather can also be a challenge. “It is a slow process with blueberries,” he said. “The bushes are “This year, was one of the worst years for blueberries,” Luis said. expensive to buy, and it takes two or three years before they are “The weather decides how well our crop will do each year. This year, mature enough to produce fruit. We planted Rabbiteye blueber- in this region of the state, we had too much rain.” ries in the beginning, and I grow that type of blueberry still today.” Southern Highbush is another type of blueberry grown com- FARM BUREAU LEADER mercially in Mississippi. Luis was invited to serve on the board of directors of Lamar In the beginning, Luis marketed his berries locally. Now, his County Farm Bureau by longtime volunteer leader, Carley Parker. berries are sold through the Miss-Lou Blueberry Growers Cooper- He has been a dedicated county board member ever since. He is a ative across the nation and as far away as Canada. Luis was instru- past vice chair of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) mental in helping to form the cooperative and in working to gain Horticulture Commodity Advisory Committee and presently serves markets for Mississippi blueberries. Miss-Lou has18 growers from on the MFBF Labor Committee. Luis and the Purvis packing shed Louisiana and Mississippi. Most of the co-op growers today are provided American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall Mississippi farmers. with a look at the state’s blueberry industry when he visited MisWhen everything is going well, the blueberry packing facility in sissippi this summer. Purvis packages 1 million-plus pounds of berries a year. Fresh berries Luis is a past president of the Miss-Lou Blueberry Growers are packaged in pint containers, and frozen berries are packaged in Cooperative, and at one time sat on the United States Highbush 30-pound boxes. The packing center, which was built in the early Blueberry Council, serving on the Industry Relations Committee. 1980s, has doubled in size through the years and currently has three He served for eight years on the board of directors of the Federal coolers and one large loading dock. Crop Insurance Corporation. “We start harvesting in the middle of May and finish up the first “Farm Bureau has definitely helped the blueberry industry. It has part of July,” Luis said. “We have 20,000 bushes here in Lamar County tried to solve specific issues that have impacted our growers,” he said. alone, but we serve other counties all the way to north of Jackson.” “Former Commissioner of Agriculture Lester Spell also helped the indusIn 2014, according to figures from Mississippi State University, try tremendously. He took a personal interest because he grew blueberthe state’s volume of blueberry production was estimated at 8.55 ries and had a pick-your-own operation. I also want to thank Mississippi million pounds. This volume was determined by multiplying the State University (MSU) and Dr. Juan Silva for their help with the indusarea harvested (2,100 acres) by the average yield per acre (4,070 try. We have a very positive and constant relationship with the MSU pounds per acre). The average price for blueberries (fresh and pro- Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion program.” cessed) in Mississippi that year was $1.15 per pound, resulting in Luis sees a bright future for blueberry production in our state. an average total value of production of about $10.07 million. He says Mississippi’s blueberry industry is in very capable hands. FB Luis and his wife, Paula, who have been married for 55 years, have two sons, Gregory and Scott, and four grandchildren. Luis came to this country from Cuba to escape communism. He became an American citizen and went on to become a successful farmer, as well as a state and national agriculture industry leader. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017



FarmFacts: S T R A I G H T F R O M A M I S S I S S I P P I FA R M E R

Mississippi Blueberries by Robert St. John


esterday, I had a flashback. I was walking through my friend Tim Goggans’ 40 acres of blueberries. It reminded me of walking among grape orchards in Napa or the olive groves of Italy. It was about an hour after sunrise, and dew still covered the berries. There was a slight mist in the distance, and the atmospheric haze was just starting to clear. It felt like a cool Tuscan morning or an early Napa dawn. Workers were sitting on coolers and ice chests on the edge of the field, waiting for the sun to dry the dew off of the berries so they could be picked. Standing there, among the rows, it struck me that blueberries are probably the heartiest crop in South Mississippi. They grow in many other parts of the country, but they proliferate here. Sure, we have climate and soil conditions that can grow several vegetables and fruits, but they don’t thrive like

blueberries. It never cools down during our summer nights, and that keeps us from growing many items later in the year. Most fruits and vegetables need cool evenings to recover from the day’s stifling heat. Blueberries could care less — humid mornings, hot nights, bring ‘em on. The main weather deterrent with blueberries is a late freeze. Once the bushes begin to bloom, a hard freeze will devastate the crop. Supposedly, this will be a “down year” for blueberries in the Southeast, due to late cold spells experienced in several states. Though walking among Goggans’ rows, the bushes were loaded with berries. As Goggans and I walked down the manicured rows among the blueberries, he described the different varieties and the characteristics of each. The life of a blueberry farmer is hectic this time of year. There is usually a six- to sevenweek window when all of the harvest

work needs to be done. If the berries aren’t picked at the exact height of ripeness, it is over for the year. His operation, Sandy Run Farms, ships to a local cooperative, but, lucky for us, he offers a U-pick opportunity to the general public. They also sell picked blueberries for those who aren’t interested in picking the berries themselves. Blueberries are grown from Maine to Oregon, yet the South Mississippi acidic soil is perfect for growing blueberries. Raspberries can’t grow in the height of South Mississippi summers, but blueberries thrive and blackberries, too. Goggans will pick 5,000 pounds an acre or over 200,000 pounds of blueberries this year. Blueberries frequently top the list of the world’s healthiest foods, as they have more antioxidants than any other fruit,

“Standing there, among the rows, it struck me that blueberries are probably the heartiest crop in South Mississippi. They grow in many other parts of the country, but they proliferate here.” — Robert St. John 10



Tim Goggans and Robert St. John

and many believe they can help prevent damage caused by heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. They are low in fat and sodium, and are one of the only natural foods that is blue in color. Goggans grows two different varieties of blackberries and four varieties of blueberries. If one hangs around blueberry farmers long enough, you’ll be well-versed in terms such as Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush. The varieties of blueberries grown locally at Sandy Run Farms are Brightwell, Climax, Alapaha, Powder Blue and Premier. Multiple varieties of blueberries are needed for cross-pollination. The Brightwell is Goggans’ favorite. After an hour, the dew had dried. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

The sun was higher in the sky, and the humidity knob had been turned to high. It no longer felt like Napa or Tuscany. I was, once again, in the middle of a South Mississippi summer. There was no dew; it was hot and humid. The blueberry pickers were beginning to stir. I was headed to my truck and off to the comparative comfort of a 90-degree restaurant kitchen. I drove away and left Goggans to his 200,000 pounds of blueberries. But not before purchasing a flat of berries. I plan to visit often over the next six weeks, as these blueberries seem to be sweeter than most. I’ll pick up a few flats for the restaurants, and before it’s over, I might even pick a few myself.

Robert St. John has spent more than three decades in the restaurant business. Twentynine of those years have been as the owner, CEO and executive chef of Purple Parrot Seafood & Steaks, Crescent City Grill, Mahogany Bar, Branch, Tabella and Ed’s Burger Joint in Hattiesburg. St. John is a restaurateur, chef, columnist and author. FB Check out the blueberry recipe on the following page. The Farm Families of Mississippi Agriculture Promotion Campaign was created to educate the public about the agriculture industry. For more information, contact Greg Gibson at (601) 977-4154. MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY


Blueberry-Peach Shortcake 2 c. all-purpose flour 2 T. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling 1 T. baking powder ⅛ tsp. salt ¾ cup cold unsalted butter (1½ sticks), diced 3 large eggs, lightly beaten ¼ c. heavy cream, chilled ¼ c. sour cream 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash ¼ c. sugar 4-5 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced (about 3 cups) 1 T. fresh lemon juice 1 pint blueberries Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F Sift the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend in the butter at the lowest speed and mix until

insides are fully baked. Let cool on a wire rack.

the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs, heavy cream,

While the biscuits are baking, combine the ¼ cup of sugar

sour cream and vanilla extract and quickly add to the flour and

with the sliced peaches and lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will be sticky.

Split each shortcake in half crosswise and place the bottom

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Flour

half on a plate. Place a small amount of the peach mixture

your hands and pat the dough out ¾-inch thick. You should

atop each biscuit bottom. Place one scoop of ice cream on the

see lumps of butter in the dough.

peaches and spoon the remaining peaches over the ice cream.

Cut biscuits with a 2 ¾-inch cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outsides are crisp and the



Place the biscuit top over the filled bottom half and sprinkle each shortcake with 2-3 tablespoons of fresh blueberries. Serve immediately. Yield: 6-8 servings.



As a result of his success as a farmer, Mike has been selected as state winner of the Swisher Sweets/ Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.

2017 Mississippi Sunbelt Farmer of the Year BY JOHN LEIDNER

After earning a prestigious Harvard University Master of Business Administration degree, Micajah “Mike” Sturdivant III could have entered real estate or most any other business, but decided instead to become a Mississippi Delta row crop farmer. Today, he farms about 12,000 acres of land that is mostly family-owned near Glendora. As a result of his success as a farmer, Mike has been selected as state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. He joins nine other finalists for the overall award to be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Georgia. A farmer for 43 years, Mike grows cotton on 3,300 acres, corn on 4,400 acres and soybeans on 3,600 acres. Almost all of these crops are irrigated. His five-year per-acre average yields are 1,345 pounds for cotton, 195 bushels for corn and 63 bushels for soybeans. Mike’s farm has increased furrow irrigation and cut back on center pivot irrigation. He says older pivots were not designed to efficiently irrigate corn. Furrow irrigation is more practical as a result of better drainage, reduced runoff and precision land leveling. One of his equipment innovations is a Deere cultivator modified with curved shovels between rows to apply liquid fertilizer. The farm got its name, Due West, many years ago. “During the 1850s, this farm was part of Twilight Plantation,” Mike said. “Our headquarters are due west of Twilight Plantation.” A fifth-generation farmer, Mike runs the farm on a daily basis. “I farm with my brothers, Walker and Sykes,” he said. Sykes manages the family’s Due West Grain elevators and Sturdivant Brothers Flying Service. The elevators handle the farm’s corn and soybean storage and market grain for others. The flying service handles aerial application for the family’s crops and for other customers. Walker is a tax attorney who practiced on his own for nine years and came back to the farm. He runs the family’s Due West Gin, one of two cotton gins left in Tallahatchie County. “We gin all our cotton here, plus we gin cotton for other growers,” says Mike. “We plan to expand our volume and gin 30,000 bales in 2017.” The gin helps the Sturdivants receive full value for their cottonseed. They’re working with a Deere dealer to provide custom harvesting and bring more cotton to the gin. To market cotton, Mike relies on the Staple Cotton Cooperative Association, better known as Staplcotn. His great-grandfather was a Staplcotn founder in 1921. He likes the cooperative’s pooling, which allows growers to combine their cotton for sales to mills throughout the year. Grain marketing is improved because the farm has a storage NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

capacity of 1.6 million bushels. “Before we started growing corn, we didn’t have grain storage, so we bought an existing elevator,” Mike recalls. Local chicken companies buy most of the corn, while soybeans are marketed through other local elevators. Mike has worked recently on using spreadsheets and mapping software to track farming practices for individual tracts. This is data he can share with fertilizer suppliers, aerial applicators, farm managers, irrigation services, GPS providers and governmental agencies. Mike has worked to make the farm more efficient, for instance, by switching from eight- to twelve-row equipment and adding precision farming technology. He says vertical integration provided by the grain elevator, flying service and cotton gin help add profitability to the farming operation. Conservation is important to Mike. He uses conservation tillage on a small scale. He relies on precision land leveling and has installed tailwater recovery projects. “We are able to capture runoff and then to re-use the water in our fields,” he says. Mike uses the Pipe Planner program to make furrow irrigation more efficient, and has also built holding ponds benefitting wildlife. He has established conservation easements with the Delta Wildlife organization. His farm is a member of Delta F.A.R.M. (Delta Farmers Advocating Resource Management). He has also participated in a state game management program and a bee pollination project. Mike depends on Martha Ann Clark, his office manager, and Larry Smith, his farm manager. Gary Dyksterhouse, his brother’s son-in-law, helps run the family’s grain elevators. Mike is a past chairman of the Farmers Supply Cooperative of Greenwood. He is also a past chairman of Delta Purchasing. He is the chairman of the Staple Cotton Cooperative and Staple Discount. He is a past director of SF Services Inc. of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mike is a past president and chairman of Delta Council. He is also a member of the board of trustees at Millsaps College. Nationally, he was a member of the Cotton Board, a past member of the National Cotton Council’s Cotton Leadership Program, and a past chairman and director of the Memphis Branch of the St. Louis District Federal Reserve Bank. He has been a cooperative delegate to the National Cotton Council. He also co-chairs a section of the annual fund for the Harvard Business School. He is active in his community, and he and his wife, Jan, have been active in First Presbyterian Church of Greenwood. They have two adult children, a son, Micajah, and a daughter, Lee. FB MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY


Blueberry Bread

Blueberry Bread Pudding

2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese 1 box yellow cake mix 3 eggs ½ c. oil ¼ c. water 1 can blueberries, drained

1 (15-oz) loaf French bread, cubed. 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, cut into pieces 3 c. fresh blueberries, divided 6 lg. eggs 4 c. milk ½ c. sugar ¼ c. butter, melted ¼ c. maple syrup 1 (10-oz.) jar blueberry preserves

Combine softened cream cheese, eggs, water and oil. Add cake mix. Fold in berries. Place in loaf pans and cook per instructions on cake mix box. Fresh blueberries may be substituted for canned blueberries. Betty Mills Montgomery County

Arrange half of bread cubes in a lightly greased 9x13-inch pan. Sprinkle evenly with cream cheese and one cup blueberries. Top with remaining bread cubes. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, butter

and maple syrup. Pour over bread mixture, pressing bread cubes to absorb egg mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 30 minutes more or until lightly brown and set. Let stand five minutes before serving. Stir together remaining two cups blueberries and blueberry preserves in saucepan over low heat until warm. Serve blueberry mixture over bread pudding. Shelby Williams Covington County Blueberry Delite

2 c. blueberries 2 T. sugar ½ c. pecans, chopped 8 oz. whipped topping 1 can sweetened condensed milk ¼ c. lemon juice 2 graham cracker pie crusts

COUNTRY COOKING, VOLUME V: These recipes are from “Country Cooking, Volume V,” available at most county offices. The cost is $20. If you order a cookbook from the state office, you will pay $20 plus postage. For more information, contact Pam Jones at (601) 977-4854. 16


Mix blueberries, sugar, pecans and whipped topping together. In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk and lemon juice. Mix the two bowls together and pour into two graham cracker crusts. Chill or freeze before serving. Joan Thompson Neshoba County NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

2018 Winter Commodity Conference The 2018 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Winter Commodity Conference will be held Jan. 22-23 at the MFBF Building in Jackson. The annual Legislative Reception is scheduled for the evening of Jan. 22. Bryce Anderson, Senior Ag Meteorologist for DTN/ Progressive Farmer, and other key speakers will be featured at this year’s conference. Speakers will address issues of interest to every segment of Mississippi agriculture. More details will be made available as the conference draws closer. For more information, contact Nancy Britt at (601) 977-4230. FB






at State Convention

The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Women’s Programs will again offer a General Store at MFBF State Convention. The store always offers a variety of interesting items for sale. This year, the stock will include T-shirts, cookbooks, the 2018 Ag Art Calendar, canned goods, jewelry, homemade candy, etc. All funds raised will benefit the Ag in the Classroom program. For more information, contact Pam Jones at (601) 977-4854.





★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Region 1 Regional Manager

You Reap What You Sow

As the age of the average farmer continues to rise to almost 60, have you thought about helping the next generation find their start? Farm Bureau has, and we are planting seeds for a bountiful harvest of future leaders. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation often touts our Young Farmers & Ranchers program as the future of our organization, and it certainly is. Agriculturalists, ages 18-35, are just the clientele that this organization is going to depend on moving forward. But how do they get there? What has inspired them to become a young farmer and/or rancher? Farming is often viewed as a generational business — family land and assets passed from one father and mother to the next generation — and that is certainly a great blessing for those who can inherit such. It is clear, though, that this trend of children taking over the family farm is diminishing. USDA’s ag census tells us that in 2012 the farm population had decreased by almost 5 percent since 2007. In a current ag census year, predictions are that this decline may be even more rapid in 2017. With farmers making up less than 2 percent of the United States population, it is clear that the industry cannot self-sustain on generational family farms alone. However, not all farms are generational, as MFBF has a great group of young men and women as firstgeneration farmers looking to make their way in this industry as well. My entry into agriculture was not generational. As the son of two professors, one being a musician, my immediate family did not live life on the farm. However, my father, the music professor, did grow up on a small farm. His brothers continue to raise beef cows today. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old that I took any serious interest in the farming world. As a freshman in high school, I was looking for a place to belong and use my leadership talents to stand out from the crowd. I found that place through FFA, with the help of my advisor, Mr. Rusty Coats. The former Future Farmers of America, now simply FFA, has given millions of young people an opportunity to learn about agriculture and leadership since its inception in 1928. I also began to learn more about my family’s farming interests. That same music professor (my dad), who’s farming experience to me

State FFA Officers

was only a large garden and old embellished tales of feeding chickens before school, has since told me that some of his best ag memories were through his run to the Georgia dairy judging title with his local 4-H club. For well over a century, 4-H clubs have been introducing youth to agriculture and leadership, as well as skills and healthier living. So, where will our next generation of farmers and ranchers come from beyond the generational family farm? Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation believes it is going to continue to develop through ag youth organizations such as FFA and 4-H. Mississippi is blessed to have great leaders helping these youth, through ag teachers and volunteers with FFA and through our Mississippi State University Extension Service and their volunteers with 4-H. These programs lead youth to a world they might have otherwise never known. To renew our commitment to these organizations, both now and for the future, our Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Scholarship Foundation developed new scholarship opportunities for both FFA and 4-H this year. Beginning with the 2016-2017 state officers, our YF&R program has awarded the six FFA and six 4-H state officers a $1,000 college scholarship. 4-H district officers will also receive $500 scholarships. Through our YF&R program’s successful fundraising efforts, our membership’s generosity and the entire organization’s commitment to the betterment of Mississippi’s youth, it is our hope that these scholarships will enable these young people to be successful members of the agricultural community and engaged citizens of Mississippi as well. As we move forward in partnership with 4-H and FFA, MFBF would love to hear about the successes and collaborations our organizations are having on the local level. If you, your county Farm Bureau or local FFA or 4-H chapters have success stories between Farm Bureau and either group, please share them by contacting me, Andy Brown, at I would love to hear your story. As Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, FFA and 4-H work to move agriculture forward, we hope that these efforts afford all of you Farm Bureau members a better life and a better living here in Mississippi. FB

State and District 4-H Officers

Photo by Kevin Hudson, MSU Office of Ag Communications

MFBF Annual Meeting The 96th Annual Membership Meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is set for Dec. 2-4 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 the other highlights. Saturday, Dec. 2 10:30 a.m.

Ag in the Classroom Roundtable

1:00 p.m.

General Session – Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Ambassador Competition

3 p.m.

YF&R Discussion Meet Finals

4 p.m.

Safety Workshop

4 p.m.

Farm-to-Table Cooking

5:30 p.m.

President & Secretary County Recognition Dinner

8:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. YF&R Alumni Reception

Sunday, Dec. 3 7 a.m. 9 a.m. 10:45 a.m. 1:30 p.m. 4:00 p.m.-5:15 p.m. 5 p.m. 5:30 p.m.

Women’s Recognition Breakfast Women’s Business Session Worship Service – Breaking Grass General Session – Keynote Speaker – Clebe McClary Presentations will be made to Mississippi Pennies and to the Farm Woman of the Year, Ag Ambassador, Friend of Agriculture, Excellence in Leadership and Distinguished Service award recipients. Farm Families of MS Reception Zion’s Way General Session – Presentations will be made to the YF&R Discussion Meet winner and to the Excellence in Agriculture and YF&R Achievement Award recipients.

Monday, Dec. 4 8:00 a.m.

Business Session

CALENDAR of EVENTS NOV. 9 State Resolutions Meeting Jackson

State Board Tours Truck Crops Experiment Station

In August, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation board members and their spouses toured the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station’s Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. The station, which was established in 1938, encompasses 175 acres, the most acreage dedicated to horticulture in the Mississippi State University system. Facilities include two laboratories, shop facilities, nine greenhouses and seven high tunnels. Land-grant research is critical to helping our nation’s farmers remain efficient and productive in an ever-growing, ever-changing world. FB NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

NOV. 11 YF&R Tailgate MSU NOV. 13-15

Washington D.C. Member Fly-In

NOV. 14-17

YF&R Washington D.C. Fly-In

DEC. 2-4 MFBF Annual Membership Meeting Jackson JAN. 5-10 AFBF Annual Convention Phoenix, Arizona JAN. 22-23 Winter Commodity Conference Jackson

JAN. 22

Legislative Reception



In its early years, A.F. Carraway sold food, clothing, appliances, fabric and patterns, whatever a farming household might need to keep it going through the year. Fertilizer was available in a separate warehouse, and the store had a platform where cotton was purchased from farmers.

a w r r a y a S C . t o F . re A B Y G LY N D A P H I L L I P S

A.F. Carraway Store in Bassfield was estabCarraway family almost 100 years ago. lished in 1919. Today, it is one of the few old “Where the store was once central to the country stores still in operation in Mississippi. community, today it is very much appreVisiting the store is like stepping back in time ciated by the community,” she added. “We to when these establishments were the centers have many loyal customers, most of them of thriving agriculture-based communities. In older folks. We still sell groceries and hardits early years, A.F. Carraway sold food, clothware, but we also offer T-shirts, Round House ing, appliances, fabric and patterns, whatever overalls and jeans, and Lodge cast iron skillets a farming household might need to keep it and pizza pans. You can get your monogramgoing through the year. Fertilizer was availing done here by my sisters, Lynn Miller and able in a separate warehouse, and the store Bronwyn Dyess. My brother, Sean Burns, also had a platform where cotton was purchased helps us run the store.” Ray and Colleen Powell display an antique sign. from farmers. Colleen says many of their customers grew On the day of my visit, Colleen Powell and up around A.F. Carraway and have fond memher husband, Ray, were working the cash regories of it. Some of the older customers want to ister, while a big electric fan was trying its best purchase the old-time hoop cheese and bacon. to keep the summer heat and humidity at bay. The store boasts an original butcher block Colleen’s father, Neil Burns, began working at for cutting cheese. An original cash register the store after he graduated from high school. is displayed. Colleen says the store gets local He worked there for 61 years, and eventually folks as well as visitors from across the nation purchased the store from the Carraway family. and around the world. Some are traveling the When he passed away, approximately four years nearby Longleaf Trace recreational trail. Colleen Powell ago, his four children inherited it. Now, they “We have had people from other states stop take turns operating it. by and visitors from as far away as Australia During his lifetime, Neil strived to see that and Japan,” she said. A.F. Carraway Store provided for the needs of The Longleaf Trace is a running, biking, the community. In addition to keeping the hiking and equestrian trail that is 41 miles store well stocked with items he felt his cuslong and extends from Hattiesburg to Sumtomers might need, he took lists from some of them and gathered rall, Bassfield, Carson and Prentiss. For more information, visit up their groceries and other merchandise. He even delivered gro- ceries to those who weren’t able to come to town. Neil was honThe Burns siblings intend to keep A.F. Carraway Store open and ored by the town of Bassfield on May 21, 2011, for his in operation for the foreseeable future. They say they are years of dedicated service to the community. taking things “day to day.” Should they one day decide Henry Brown, who worked on the Carraway farm, to close the old store, Colleen says they might consider also helped out at the store. Today, Henry’s son, Wayne, turning it into a museum. A.F. Carraway has lots of works at the store several days a week. history and plenty of interesting stories to share with “This is the original building,” Colleen said of the future generations of Mississippians and other visitors. white clapboard-style structure, which has the original The store is open Monday through Saturday from hardwood floors and very high ceiling. “We have fixed 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The siblings and Wayne rotate their the roof from time to time and made repairs here and shifts. For more information, visit the Facebook page there, but this is the store that was built by the A.F. or call the store at (601) 943-5551. FB Wayne Brown

“ Where the store was once central to the community, today it is very much appreciated by the community.”




Golden Hand Pointing Heavenward B Y J O A N N M I K E L L & R E V. M I C H A E L H E R R I N — F I R S T P R E S B Y T E R I A N C H U R C H O F P O R T G I B S O N

As far as we know, there has been a hand atop the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson ever since the building was completed in December 1860. It was witness to Grant’s march up the Natchez Trace after the Battle of Port Gibson, as he proceeded to Jackson and then to Vicksburg. That hand of carved wood covered with gold leaf was replaced by the current sheet metal hand right after the turn of the 20th century. The hand’s silent presence has comforted us through a multitude of life events and conditions — births, deaths, marriages, great personal joy, great personal tragedy and the simple passage of time. The sight of it has stilled our fears and nudged us into gratitude. It has said “good-bye,” and it has welcomed us home. All the while, it has reminded us that our true home is really where it points. It reminds us of the One Way to the One True God. The hand was removed from the steeple on June 26 and personally delivered to Virginia by congregation members for repairs. The American Stripping Company of Manassas Park, Virginia, and the Gilders’ Studio of Olney, Maryland, cooperated to restore its golden surface. The hand was wrapped up for delivery back to Port Gibson in early August, and placed atop the church on August 16. Pictures and history may be found at our website or on our Facebook page. Donations designated for this special project would be greatly appreciated, and of course, we invite you to visit us to see the regilded hand. Please join in with us as you can, but most especially, please pray for our efforts that they may always and only be to the glory of our loving God. HISTORY

The congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson was formed in 1807. Different churches were built through the years — including the first building, which was a tiny log cabin — before the pres-

ent structure was finished in 1860. The church had many pastors, including Zebulon Butler, a native of Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania. In his day, Rev. Butler was known as a great preacher, “who depicted the fiery furnaces of hell in terms scorching enough to make the most hardened sinner quiver.” During his sermons, he often raised his fist with a “quivering index finger jabbing toward Heaven.” In the years just prior to the Civil War, he urged his congregation to build a new church, and it was almost complete when he died on December 23, 1860. The first service held in the new church, ironically, was his own funeral. Wishing to find a suitable memorial for their beloved preacher, the members of the congregation decided to place a hand pointing toward heaven on top of the steeple to mimic his oft-seen gesture in the pulpit. According to other accounts, the hand was first carved in 1859, prior to his death. Either way, it is likely in recognition of Rev. Butler’s influence and dedication to his congregation. The first hand was carved from wood and covered with gold leaf. Eventually, time (and perhaps woodpeckers) took care of that one, and it was replaced about 1900 with the current 11-foot-tall metal hand. Today, the church with the golden hand is recognizable the world over, a fitting tribute to a pastor who served his congregation well for more than three decades. MORE INFORMATION

Website: Facebook: First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson, Mississippi Mailing Address: First Presbyterian Church, P. O. Box 517, Port Gibson, MS 39150 First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson was on the agenda of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s 2016 Women’s Ag Tour of Central and Southwest Mississippi. Participants toured the historic building and heard the church’s unique story. Several members of the congregation are Claiborne County Farm Bureau members. FB The photo on this page and at the bottom of the adjoining page are courtesy of First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson.




Cajun Hibiscus Are Terrific For State BY GARY R. BACHMAN — MSU EXTENSION SERVICE

Lately, I’ve been singing the praises of having hardy hibiscuses in your landscape. Who can resist the colorful flowers that are literally the size of a dinner plate? But the tropical hibiscus deserves at least equal praise. Today, I want to tell you about the Cajun hibiscus series, because these plants produce some of the most beautiful, complex and mesmerizing color combinations. These flowers also can be huge, with some exceeding nine inches in diameter. There are too many Cajun selections to describe in this column. Colors range from bright yellows to pink, red and whites. Some of the more spectacular ones are blends, and those with bright-red eyes. Talk about a Technicolor dream. The foliage is dark green and glossy, and it provides a nice background for the colorful blooms. If there is a drawback to this plant, it would be that the flowers bloom only for a single day. But there is an upside: These plants produce flowers almost continually from spring to frost in the fall. In most Mississippi gardens, Cajun hibiscuses need winter protection. You must dig up in-ground plants, and prune both the branches and the roots back a bit. Pot them in a good potting mix and then transplant them back into the landscape in the spring.

Cajun hibiscus is perfectly happy growing in a big container, which makes it very easy to move the plant into a protective garage or shed ahead of freezing temperatures. Choose a site for your Cajun hibiscus that has plenty of sunlight. It must have excellent drainage, so if planting in the garden or landscape, use raised growing beds. In a container, use a good commercial growing mix that has been engineered to provide good drainage. To have the best-looking hibiscus, be sure the plants do not go through periods of drought. These plants must have consistent, even watering to maintain gorgeous flowers. The watering needs vary with the season, with more water needed in hot weather than in the cooler months. Overwatering or underwatering can cause buds to drop prior to the flowers fully opening. Cajun hibiscuses need a readily available supply of nutrients and like monthly feedings. Topdress with slow-release fertilizers at the beginning of the season and then use water-soluble fertilizers and feed during normal watering. Cajun hibiscuses are perfect for adding a tropical flair on a porch or patio. It is a good combination plant with other tropicals, such as bananas or canna, which require similar care and management. FB

Dr. Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also the host of the popular Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at Locate Southern Gardening products online at

Cajun Peppermint Patty 24


Cajun Rum Runner

Cajun Dixieland Delight NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

2017 Berta White Scholarship

The following four students each received a 2017 Berta White Scholarship: Millie Chism of New Albany, Ashley Ivy of Soso, Jessica Wilson of Pearl and Laura McCurdy of Pope (not pictured). The $3,000 scholarship is annually presented by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Women’s Programs to four deserving female college students in Mississippi. Scholarship winners are pictured with MFBF President Mike McCormick and members of the State Women’s Leadership Committee.




2017-2018 Young Farmers & Ranchers Foundation Recipients

Price Coleman Alcorn County MSU $3,000 Hugh Arant Scholarship

Rachel McDaniel Lincoln County MSU $3,000 Don Waller Scholarship

Chloe Henson Alcorn County MSU $3,000 David Waide Scholarship

Marko Lollis Wilkinson County ASU $3,000 Mississippi Farm Bureau Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship

Bridgett Cooley Jones County MSU $3,000 YF&R Scholarship

Coley Tabb Webster County MSU $3,000 YF&R Scholarship

Dixie Priest Pontotoc County MSU $3,000 YF&R Scholarship

Conner McLendon Greene County MSU $3,000 YF&R Scholarship

Alan Smith

Scott Dunaway

David Waide Veterinary Scholarship Recipients of the David Waide Veterinary Scholarship for 2017 are Alan Smith of Pearl River County and Scott Dunaway of DeSoto County. The $5,000 scholarship, established in 2015, is presented annually to two fourth-year students who are enrolled full-time in the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, good moral character and a desire to practice production animal medicine in the state of Mississippi. FB NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017



Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith addressed the annual Berta White Scholarship Luncheon held at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Building in Jackson. She is pictured with 2017 Teacher of the Year Angel Pilcher and MFBF President Mike McCormick, also on the program. Not pictured is 2017 Farm Bureau Ambassador Beth Tillman, who also spoke to luncheon attendees.



See Page 13 for Member Benefits!






Ag Mags Available

The most recent issue of our Ag Mag children’s newsletter features land and water. You can order Ag Mags for your local classroom or ag promotion events from our Ag in the Classroom program. Dairy, corn, poultry, horticulture, cotton, peanut, honey bee, soil, beef and soybean editions are also available. Contact Pam Jones at: or (601) 977-4854.







Mississippi Farm Country Vol 93, No. 6  

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau Membership Publication, Mississippi Agriculture, Mississippi Farmer...

Mississippi Farm Country Vol 93, No. 6  

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau Membership Publication, Mississippi Agriculture, Mississippi Farmer...