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Telling Farm Bureau’s Story A Publication of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation •

MISSISSIPPI FARM CO UNTRY Volume 87 Number 4 July/August 2011

M ississippi Fa rm Country (ISSN 1529-9600) magazine is published bimonthly by the Mississippi Farm Bureau® Federation. EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICES 6311 Ridgewood Road Jackson, MS 39211 601-977-4153 E DITOR - Glynda Phillips AD VE RTISING National – Paul Hurst – 1-800-397-8908 Southeastern U.S. – 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 BURE AU DIRECT ORS Dr. Jim Perkins, Iuka Mike Graves, Ripley B.A. Teague, New Albany Bill Ryan Tabb, Cleveland Coley L. Bailey, Jr., Coffeeville Neal Huskison, Pontotoc Jeffrey R. Tabb, Walthall Bobby Moody, Louisville Wanda Hill, Isola James Foy, Canton William Jones, Meridian James Brewer, Shubuta Stanley Williams, Mt. Olive Lonnie Fortner, Port Gibson Moody Davis, Brookhaven Mike McCormick, Union Church D.P. O’Quinn, Purvis Gerald Moore, Petal Clifton Hicks, Leakesville Ken Mallette, Vancleave Betty Mills, Winona Noble Guedon, Natchez


Features 1 0 MARKETING CATTLE Cattlemen in Jasper and Smith counties are working together to successfully market their cows in an innovative way. Come with us as we learn more.

1 8 FLOODS AND TORNADOES Mississippi experienced destructive flooding and tornadoes this past spring. See the photographs and information inside.

2 6 SOLVE THE MYSTERY Which Sunflower County town is known as the site where the Southern crosses the Yellow Dog? 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.”


HONORARY V ICE -PRE SID ENTS Louis Breaux, David H. Bennett Warren Oakley

4 President’s Message 6-7 Commodity Update: Soybeans and Cotton 16 Public Policy Notes 24 Counsel’s Corner

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 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. Design: Coopwood Communications, Inc.


About the cover Mattie Carter of Rolling Fork is our first Farm Bureau Ambassador. She is charged with telling Farm Bureau’s story and teaching consumers about agriculture. Mattie is pictured at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum/National Agricultural Aviation Museum in Jackson. Read her story on page 8. MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY


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


Farm Bureau: Making a Difference

s a third-generation Mississippi farmer, I am reminded daily of God’s infinite goodness. I see His hand in every sprouting seed and newborn calf, in every timely rain and nourishing ray of sunlight. I know that you feel the same way because that’s what makes Farm Bureau so special. Our members are salt-of-the-earth folks who possess strong traditional values. Along with an experienced and dedicated state staff, these men and women work hard each year to create an environment in which all Mississippians can have a better life and earn a better living. Sometimes I think that Farm Bureau is one of Mississippi’s bestkept secrets. When you ask a nonmember about our organization, you usually hear that we are an insurance company. While we do offer an excellent insurance program, we are so much more than just insurance. Our legislative efforts alone are worth the cost of a membership. Each year, Farm Bureau endeavors to see that laws are passed that reflect the conservative values of our grassroots members. One issue that we feel very strongly about is private property rights. As a result of Farm Bureau’s tireless efforts, a private property rights initiative will be included on the 2011 ballot. When you participate in the November general election, make sure that you look for Initiative #31 and vote YES for strong private property rights laws. During the 2011 Session of the Mississippi Legislature, Farm Bureau was able to see that legislation was passed that will provide for the continuation of funding for Mississippi State University’s agricultural units. In addition, we worked closely with legislators and other organizations to ensure the passage of legislation authorizing a specialty tag for the Farm Families of Mississippi, the continuation of the Rice Promotion Board, the allocation of additional monies to the Emerging Crop Fund, the ability of county supervisors to bury dead livestock if they belong to a 10,000 confined animal feeding operation, and the creation of a second-offense felony for animal cruelty. Farm Bureau is proud to be a grassroots agricultural advocate that works from the county up. Each county has a Farm Bureau board representing the interests of its members. County Farm Bureau boards pass along their members’ interests through the development of policy at the state level. Our Public Policy program has one full-time lobbyist, who works with legislation on the state and national levels. She does an excellent job of tracking legislation and advancing Farm Bureau’s


legislative agenda. Her work is a collaborative effort and consists of building relationships not only with lawmakers and regulators but also with our members. Public Policy is an important membership program that provides a means for you, the Farm Bureau member, to stay informed about legislative issues and to be part of a unified voice working to enhance the lives of rural Mississippians. What a bargain. For just the cost of a membership, you gain access to a network of like-minded people and to great programs like Public Policy. We also offer many cost-saving benefits, which you will find listed on the adjoining page. For more information, contact Member Benefits Coordinator Dedra Luke at (601) 977-4169. To give you an even better idea of all that Farm Bureau has to offer, I plan to talk about other Farm Bureau programs and benefits in future issues of our magazine. In conclusion, I would like to remind you that Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation stands 200,000 members strong and we are dedicated to making a difference in your life. If you receive this magazine in the mail, you are a member and you already know this. I would encourage you to help us spread the word. Tell your neighbors and others about Farm Bureau and encourage them to join. Because there’s something else Farm Bureau members know all too well. There is definitely strength in numbers.

Disaster Funds As this issue of our magazine was going to press, the Mississippi River was about to crest at an historic level in Vicksburg. Some flooding had already occurred, and we were keeping apprised of this situation. We are also concerned about victims of recent tornadoes in our state. The board of directors of the Mississippi Farm Bureau (MFB) Foundation and Relief Fund has approved collecting funds for assisting the victims of these disasters who have uninsured ag losses. See page 16 for more information about this relief fund. See pages 18-23 for flood and tornado photos and information. Thank you for your generosity in assisting fellow Farm Bureau members who had uninsured ag losses during these disasters.




Soybean Checkoff Plays Key Role in Educating Public Bill Ryan Tabb, MFBF Soybean Advisory Committee Chair Justin Ferguson, MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Soybeans

From a young farmer’s perspective, I am often asked what is my biggest concern regarding the future of agriculture in America. At first, many things come to mind. Among them are: environmental regulations, world trade uncertainty, volatile commodity markets, weather, cost of inputs, and the availability of farmland. However, one topic comes to mind that overshadows all of the rest. That concern is the overwhelming lack of understanding that the general public has about production agriculture in America. The American farmer now represents less than 2 percent of the nation’s population, and the average American is now two or three generations removed from the farm. I am constantly amazed at just how little the average person knows about farming and its importance. I truly believe this is probably the biggest challenge our industry faces in the future. As the current chair of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Soybean Producer Advisory Committee and an active member of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, I felt it would be helpful to provide our state’s soybean producers with a brief update on some of the important and successful consumer educational efforts of the state and national soybean checkoff programs of which he/she may not be aware. In addition to the vital production research projects with which most producers are familiar that are funded by the checkoff program funds (rust detection, yield enhancement, resistance management, etc.), there are a number of large-scale educational efforts that are being undertaken by the soybean checkoff programs. These include:

● United Soybean Board (USB) ( The United Soybean Board is the national checkoff that is supported through one-half of all state checkoff fund collections. USB has played a major role in educating the public through numerous avenues on key agricultural issues.

First, the USB has recently joined The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance represents more than 30 of the leading farmer and rancher-led agricultural organizations. These organizations have joined together to fund programs that bolster the image of agriculture and enhance public trust in our food supply ( A second major focus of the USB is the launch of an entire me-


Bill Ryan Tabb

Justin Ferguson

dia campaign specifically promoting the importance of animal agriculture to the local and state economy ( As the livestock and poultry industries are the country’s number one user of soybean meal, USB felt it necessary to better educate the public concerning the importance of these industries locally. ● Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board (MSPB) (

The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board is a group of Mississippi soybean farmers who administer the state portion of the checkoff fund collections set aside for local research and promotions. For three consecutive years now, the MSPB has partnered with Mississippi Farm Bureau and over 70 other state agricultural organizations/industry partners to launch an agricultural awareness media campaign (Farm Families of Mississippi) to reach urban areas of Mississippi with information about the importance of agriculture. Just in its second year of operation, this campaign has already shown tremendous success in influencing public perception on key agricultural issues. For more information about the “Farm Families” campaign, visit: ( In summary, I would encourage Mississippi soybean farmers to visit the Web pages listed above to learn more about how their state and national soybean checkoff programs are making great strides in informing the public about the importance of this great industry of which I am so proud to be a part.




U.S. Cotton Crop Facing Early Challenges Clint Tindall, MFBF Cotton Advisory Committee Chair Justin Ferguson, MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Cotton

Clint Tindall

Justin Ferguson


In their March 31 planting intentions report, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that total U.S. cotton acres are estimated to be around 12.6 million, a 15 percent increase nationally over 2010 planted acres. The largest increase, at 548,000 acres above 2010 levels, is expected in Texas. For Mississippi, USDA reported intentions to plant an estimated 530,000 acres in 2011, up about 110,000 acres from 2010. In Texas, the nation’s largest cotton-producing state that plants 6.1 million acres alone (or half the U.S. crop), weather is playing a major factor on the potential of the cotton crop. Most of all cotton-growing areas in Texas are experiencing severe drought conditions. In fact, the entire state just endured its driest seven-month span on record. Certain areas of the state have received less than 1 inch of rain in the last three months, which is around 12 percent of normal rainfall for the area. Significant pockets of drought also exist in parts of Georgia and Alabama, specifically in areas where the least irrigation is used. At the time this article was written (May 11), Mississippi farmers were facing an imminent threat of flooding by the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers in the South Delta. Most areas on the Mississippi River are predicted to exceed the 100-year flood levels by 4 feet, and 1973 flood levels by 7 feet. In addition, other areas, such as Marks and Lambert, are still experiencing flooding due to the excessive rainfall received in late April in the very northwest corner of the state. The impact of the amount of rainfall received this year has delayed planted progress a great deal. As of May 8, USDA reported that Mississippi’s cotton crop was 19 percent planted. Normally, the state’s crop is 50 per-


cent planted at this point in the growing season. The impact of the flooding is also anticipated to destroy the crop in many areas and hinder further planting as the situation progresses. According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture & Commerce, over 900,000 acres of farmland could be impacted under many conditions. Arkansas (who typically ranks third in U.S. cotton production) has already seen disaster. There, 63 counties have been declared disaster areas due to heavy rainfall, storms and flooding in April. The Arkansas Farm Bureau estimates the agricultural sector will take a hit of more than $500 million. Louisiana is also bracing for flooding and the impacts of the opening of the Morganza Spillway to ease the tension on the Mississippi River, with an estimated 18,000 acres of land at risk. Despite this news, there has been little immediate reaction from the cotton market, as USDA has yet to get a full picture of what the U.S. crop may yield. In their recent World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimate (WASDE) released on May 11, USDA projects the U.S. cotton crop at 18 million bales, virtually unchanged from 2010. Ending stocks are projected at 2.5 million bales, 43 percent above 2010-11, but still the second-lowest level since 1990-91. However, market experts expect Mother Nature to show her face on the trading floor as soon as USDA gets a better handle on what the 2011 crop may look like as time goes by. In summary, nationally and here in the MidSouth, the cotton crop is facing much uncertainty as the 2011 growing season begins. Please keep the producers who provide this important fiber we depend upon in your thoughts and prayers as we face such difficult times.



arm Bureau Ambassador Mattie Carter of Rolling Fork carries on a family tradition that has spanned many generations. Her family members have long been active in Farm Bureau as outspoken advocates for agriculture. Mattie’s paternal grandfather, Delta row crop farmer Jimmie Dick Carter, served as a state vice president for many years. Her paternal grandmother, Leta Carter, was a county women’s chair. Mattie’s mother Emily served as Miss Farm Bureau-Mississippi 1983, and both Emily and husband Clark spent time on the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee. Mattie’s maternal grandparents, Rev. and Mrs. Wiley Reid of Brookhaven, are longtime Farm Bureau members who have acres of timber and a bountiful summer garden. Farm Bureau Ambassador “I was so excited when they created this contest,” Mattie said. “I didn’t have much interest in competing in a pageant, but a public speaking contest about agriculture sounded exciting. “As Farm Bureau Ambassador, I get to meet people and answer their questions about agriculture,” she said. “My generation has grown so removed from farm life. I get to tell people across Mississippi what agriculture does for them and how important it is to our state’s economy. “I also get to introduce people to Farm Bureau,” she said. “A lot of the work of Farm Bureau may go unnoticed because of the misconception that we’re simply insurance. But we offer so much to families through policy, safety programs, and farm education.” Mattie says growing up on a Delta row crop farm influenced her desire for a future career in



Farm Bureau’s Telling

By Glynda Phillips


agricultural policy. Other deciding factors included 4-H and Farm Bureau. “Growing up on a farm engaged my interest in working in ag,” she said. “In 4-H, I competed in nearly every possible category, at first because I had to. That gave me a tough skin. My family’s involvement in Farm Bureau and other organizations introduced me to people and programs in agriculture.” Mattie notes that Tara Smith has served as a great role model. Tara worked in governmental affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation for many years and is now a senior staff member in the Sen-

“I didn’t have much interest in competing in a pageant, but a public speaking contest about agriculture sounded exciting.” ate Ag Committee for crop insurance and commodity titles for Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. “I visited with Tara recently on a trip to D.C.” she said. “It is good to see another woman successful in the area you want to work in. This summer, I’ll be interning there with Terpstra Associates, as well as Technology Transition Corporation.” The junior at Mississippi State University says she would like to work in either governmental affairs for an agricultural organization or as a congressional staff member when she graduates. “That is my dream,” she said. “But whatever I decide to do, I’d like to spend some time on Capitol Hill. My parents have always been very supportive of me. They tell me I can do anything I want to do with my life. They have instilled in me a willingness to try new things and to not be afraid of making mistakes.” Other Activities In addition to Farm Bureau, Mattie is involved with the StennisMontgomery Association; MSU College Republicans, where she has


served as an officer; Service Dawgs, a community service organization; the MSU Student Association; Campus Crusade for Christ; student campaigns and elections; the Montgomery Leadership Honors Program, and Phi Mu Sorority. She is the recipient of the bronze, silver, and gold Congressional Youth Award medals. Mattie has served 4-H as a state officer, state leadership team member and national 4-H conference delegate. She is currently a 4-H volunteer on the county level. She is a member of Lake Washington Baptist Church in Glen Allan. Mattie has worked as a volunteer for several political campaigns. Her hobbies include horseback riding and bicycle riding. Farm Bureau Ambassador Mattie Carter would love to speak at your county annual meeting or board meeting. For more information, contact Women’s Program Coordinator Clara Bilbo at 1-800-227-8244, Extension 4245.



Innovative Way to


Market Cattle

n a chilly night this past spring, Ricky Ruffin was awakened by a cow bawling beneath his bedroom window. Reluctant to leave his warm bed, he nonetheless grabbed a flashlight and headed outdoors only to find that his yard was full of cows. “I thought at first they were my cattle,” he said. “But I quickly discovered they belonged to a neighbor.” Never thinking twice about helping a fellow farmer, Ruffin herded the cows into one of his own pastures, where they docilely remained until the owner could come and get them. Farmers in Jasper and Smith counties have always possessed a cooperative mindset. In more recent years, that way of thinking has helped them surface and implement a new and very successful way of marketing their cattle. “We did our research and discovered what could be accomplished if we were willing to work together to achieve a common goal,” Ruffin said. Here is their extraordinary story.

A Little History Some fifteen years ago, beef producers in Jasper and Smith counties realized if they didn’t make changes in how they raised and marketed their cattle, they would soon be left behind. Consumers were becoming more health conscious and vocal


By Glynda Phillips

about what they were willing to purchase in the grocery store, and experts were telling farmers that prices of cattle were going to be based on the quality of the meat as determined by the grade and yield at the time of slaughter. Premium prices would be paid for 50,000-pound lots with similar weights, color and sex. “Historically, our cattlemen have done the same thing their parents and grandparents did as far as raising and marketing their cattle. Most of them felt that changing the routine would not work,” said Charles Waldrup, a retired Smith County Extension agent and the current executive director of the Smith County Economic Development District. “Fortunately, we had John Rufus Sims.” Sims was a Jasper County supervisor who helped develop the very successful feeder pig sales in Mississippi under the guidance of the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service (now known as the Mississippi State University Extension Service) and the Mississippi Department of Ag and Commerce. He believed farmers could do something similar with cattle. At about the same time, Mississippi State University’s Farm to



Feedlot program was in its infancy and getting attention from cattlemen throughout the state. Producers were encouraged to put together truckload lots of cattle to be sold at market. Farmers tried this, but weights varied among the calves and some confusion existed as to just exactly what packers wanted in terms of types of calves. Sims told farmers they needed to get out and tour cattle operations and livestock facilities in other states to get answers to their questions. Out of this was born the annual Beef Tour comprised of cattlemen from Smith and Jasper counties. With help from the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Economic Development Districts in Jasper and Smith counties and the boards of supervisors in Jasper and Smith counties, farmers were able to visit different areas of the nation — from the West to the Midwest to the Southeast and the Eastern Seaboard. They came back excited. “We looked at programs and met with producers and decided that we wanted to do four things,” said Joe Tally, chair of the Smith County Cattlemen’s Association. “We wanted to provide farmers with better bulls; we wanted a controlled breeding season; we wanted a better herd health program; and we wanted to market our cattle through uniform truckload lots. I am proud to say that we accomplished all of these goals.”

The Beginnings Farmers started out by addressing the genetics issue, but a big obstacle was the high cost of superior bulls. “We decided to collectively purchase 23 superior bulls and


draw straws so that more farmers would have access to the bulls for a set fee. We called this the Bull Lease Program, and it has been very successful,” said Waldrup. “The fee goes toward paying back the amount of money that was used to buy the bulls in the first place.” Cattlemen soon decided that they needed more bulls, and an additional 13 bulls were purchased. “Along with the genetics program, we initiated a uniform and controlled breeding system and a good vaccine/health program. We also began meeting to talk about a group marketing program,” said Jasper County Extension Director Tommy Bishop. “We worked together on all of these things, purchasing similar vaccines and using similar weaning and preconditioning methods so that all of our calves would be uniform,” he said. “It worked out very well.” “All of this started with our beef tours in 2001. And everything we’ve done has been geared toward getting a good marketing program down the road,” said Jeremy Maness, Smith County Extension Director. “Jon Kilgore with Farm Bureau participated in some of the beef tours, and he is the one who eventually came to us with the best-sounding marketing program. It has been a great thing for our cattlemen, adding value to our animals.” “It is amazing how all of this worked out,” said Waldrup. “We hadn’t decided how we were going to market our calves. But when it came time to sell our first calves in 2008, we were approached with a plan that sounded promising. We agreed to try it.” Experts with Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi State University, and the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association had met for two years to come up with a type of marketing system that would help Mississippi cattlemen. What they finally settled on was the feeder calf board sale. Out of this was born the Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale, which is held in Hattiesburg, and the



These Jasper County and Smith County cattlemen and Extension experts worked together to surface and implement a new and successful way of marketing cattle.

Cattlemen’s Exchange Sale, which is held in Winona.

Board Sales A board sale uses detailed descriptions of cattle along with still photos or videos displayed on a Web site and on a screen at the auction house where the sale will be held. The auction house, which is licensed and bonded, is paid a reduced commission for its use. The feeder calves aren’t present at the buyers sale, but producers can look at the photos or videos on a Web site before the sale. Buyers can either attend the auction and bid, or they can phone in their bids at the time of the sale.

Cattle producers join forces for better sales

By Linda Breazeale MSU Ag Communications

Cattle producers and buyers are finding a win-win method of marketing cattle in the Cattlemen’s Exchange and Homeplace Producers’ Sales. Mississippi State University’s Extension Service is partnering with several organizations and sale barns to offer auctions in Winona and Hattiesburg for cattle that may never pass through either of those cities. Cattle remain on their home farms while buyers cast bids based on written descriptions of the cattle and video technology. “These board sales are open to anyone in the state, and any sale barn can 12

be involved as well,” said Jane Parish, Extension beef cattle specialist. “The sales work to everyone’s advantage, including the cattle’s.” Short video clips of the cattle are posted on the Extension Service and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Web sites for buyers to view before the sale, along with detailed descriptions of cattle type, weight and management. The same videos are presented during the auction. “The cattle do not experience the stress and health challenges from mixing with other cattle during a public sale,” Parish said. “Buyers do not have to attend several sales to accumulate a MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

large number of similar cattle. Sale barns still receive commissions but have fewer overhead expenses. Producers most often receive a premium for their cattle.” The April sale in Winona set new price records with 30 loads of calves. The heaviest calves — four loads of 875-pound steers — brought $125.75 per hundredweight. The lightest — a mixed load of 425-pound calves — sold for $157.75 per hundredweight. “More than 2,000 cattle were sold in less than an hour,” Parish said. “The receipts from the sales approached $1.9 million and averaged well above market value for the week of the sale.” JULY/AUGUST

Feeder calf board sales benefit cattlemen in several important ways. These sales:

● Allow for uniform lots of calves that bring more money. Cattlemen sell 50,000-pound lots of calves that are similar in weight, color and sex. ● Allow for flexibility. If a calf isn’t ready for delivery at the time of purchase, a future time and weight are agreed upon. This cuts down on the amount of handling and commingling the calves experience. ● Reduce shrinkage. ● Enhance the reputations of cattlemen because farmers are selling a higher quality product. Customers come back time and again if the calves they purchase perform well. ● Keep money in Mississippi rather than sending money to an outof-state auction sale.

“We are very pleased with this,” said Jim Sims, president of the Jasper County Cattlemen’s Association and a member of the advisory committee for the Bull Lease Program. “It has helped us improve our herds and helped us get more money for our animals. It has been great.” In the first three years of marketing calves through board sales, approximately 847 calves were sold by farmers in Jasper and Smith counties at an estimated average of $125 a head above the price brought at traditional marketing outlets. An estimated $216,000 over prices received at the traditional market outlets has been rewarded back to the beef producers in Smith and Jasper counties. “We have cattle that outperform cattle in the Midwest, and we know that,” Waldrup said. “We want to get the word out to others. So much of marketing depends on reputation.” “We visited other farms that were successfully doing this, and that planted the seeds. We said to ourselves, ‘If they can do this, we can do this,” said Ruffin. “Some of these operations are way ahead of us and have a track record for successfully selling their animals directly to feedlots. We are coming to that one day.” “Like anything else, this will continue to improve,” said Paul Myrick,

Lance Newman, area animal science agent for Extension, said the sales, which started in 2007, are producer-driven. “Producers needed a way to improve marketing of cattle. By selling in load lots, or in groups, they get more money for their cattle,” Newman said. “The sales appeal to producers of all sizes. Those with smaller herds can combine with other producers. If prices ever disappoint a producer, the seller could pass and opt for another method of marketing the cattle.” Newman said sale barns are important in the success of the program. “Sale barns are licensed and bonded, so producers know they will get a payment for their cattle,” he said. “Barns lower their commission to 2 perJULY/AUGUST

a local cattleman. “We are hoping the next step will be straight to the feed lots, but all of that depends on the beef producers of Smith and Jasper counties and whether they are willing to take the next step. “The future of this is in their hands.”

A special thanks to Mike Keene, area Extension agent, Animal Science/Forages, Mississippi State University Extension Service, for his help with this article.

cent instead of the 4 percent or 5 percent that are normal in the sale barn, but they are selling larger numbers of cattle at one time.” Ray Welch owns Winona Stockyard and has been supportive of the program since the beginning. He sells his own cattle through the board sales. “These sales are the best way to maximize profits. Sale barns may get lower commissions, but 2 percent of a lot of money is still a good profit,” Welch said. “Buyers could have to buy from 10 different sales to equal the number of cattle in one of these loads.” Van Johnson of Webster County has sold his cattle through sale barns, by private treaty and now through the board sales. “I like that more buyers see the cattle MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

and bid against each other. I know I’m getting the best price,” Johnson said. MSU’s Extension Service partners with the Mississippi Beef Cattle Improvement Association, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association on these sales. Since 2008, more than 13,700 head of cattle have been marketed in these board sales. Together, the receipts from these sales exceeded $8 million. The next Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale will be Aug. 1, and consignments are due by June 30. Those interested in taking advantage of this marketing opportunity should contact the local Extension office or a representative from one of the partnering organizations. 13

Grandparents’ Farm

Shapes Progressive Ag Leader

By Glynda Phillips Deputy Administrator for Field Operations (DAFO) with the Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Karis GutUnited States Department of Agriculture. He was responsiter possesses an appreciation for agriculture that is rooted in ble for oversight and guidance for executive directors of the time he spent as a child on his grandparents’ Tylertown Farm Service agencies in 50 states and Puerto Rico and for farm. That 29-acre farm, with its beef cows, specialty crops 2,250 county offices. He managed 20,000 employees and (including all types of greens), and occasional hog or few oversaw all field operations, ranging from county and state chickens, definitely made an impression on a young boy. budgets to staffing issues. “My grandparents farmed for the love of it,” he said. “It “I enjoyed this job so much,” he said. “We were able to was nothing commercial. What they grew fed the family and make some positive changes that have definitely impacted the community. I began to really appreciate farming from my and benefited agriculture.” experiences on their farm.” Gutter was next appointed Gutter might have enjoyed Senior Advisor to the U.S. farm life, but he never thought “We tend to focus a lot on Secretary of Agriculture. he’d make his career in agricreating new initiatives. I like “The Secretary of Agriculture. After receiving a poculture is one of the most litical science degree from to make sure that existing amazing guys I have ever Jackson State University (he met,” he said. “I learn from later obtained a master’s deprograms get the support they him daily. The department gree in Legislative Affairs juggles so many balls…from from George Washington Unineed to be successful.” production agriculture to ruversity), he began working for ral development to scientific Congressman Bennie Thompresearch to nutrition.” son in Washington, D.C., as a senior policy aide. When the Undersecretary of Agriculture decided to go “Congressman Thompson served on the Ag Committee, back to the Hill to help write the new farm bill, the Deputy and I handled his ag issues — not because I was an expert Undersecretary of Agriculture took his place and Karis was or anything, but simply because, with my farming backasked to serve as Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Farm ground, I understood what was going on in the agricultural and Foreign Agricultural Services. community,” he said. “I worked closely with the House Ag “It’s been awesome to provide input on the farm bill as a Committee for several years.” staffer on the Hill and now to be in a position to administer Gutter also served the House Committee on Homeland the Title I programs offered through the Farm Service Security, specializing in agro defense policy and minority Agency and the Risk Management Agency, shaping the agricultural issues. safety net for farm programs.” “When the current farm bill was being written, I was Through the years, Karis Gutter has found himself carasked by the Congressional Black Caucus to work with varrying a great deal of responsibility upon his shoulders. He ious offices and compile ideas in a framework that made says that the time he spent in the Marine Corps Reserves just sense,” he said. “Title by title, we identified key areas of inafter high school helped train him to remain calm, clearterest, particularly programs that would help black farmers headed and focused through it all. in the Southeastern states. “Where I am now, we have a great staff that handles the “In setting out to help the black farming community so big problems extremely well, and I am freed up to deal with that we wouldn’t continue to lose these farmers at the pace the smaller details that tend to stand in the way,” he said. “I that we were losing them, we discovered that many issues in find that most problems can be solved by simply bringing need of attention were related to a lack of access to repeople together to talk.” sources,” he said. “So in helping black farmers, we also When asked about the upcoming farm bill, Gutter says it helped all low income and limited resource farmers.” will be different and far more challenging to write. Gutter next accepted a presidential appointment as




“We weren’t under the same pressure with the economy when our present farm bill was being written,” he said. “Additionally, the future of the farm safety net will be a contentious issue. “When farm receipts tell a story of farmers doing well, it makes it difficult to argue for increased investment or improvements in the current safety net and disaster assistance programs,” he said. “We need a farm bill that addresses the needs of today’s agriculture. It must be nimble enough to respond to weather and market shifts, but also invest in rural community infrastructure, technology, education and energy needs that spur the growth of rural jobs and economy.” Gutter says he would like to see our nation’s farmers working together for the good of the industry as a whole. “We have become so regionalized. For example, Midwest farming is starkly different from farming in the Southeast,” he said. “Whereas, there is a great deal of crop diversity here in the Southeast, the Midwest can afford to invest more resources and time into one crop. There are differences in philosophies, climates and soils.” “We spend an inordinate amount of time competing with each other because of these differences while countries around the world are competing against us,” he said. “I hope, as we approach the next farm bill, we can begin to work together to identify ways to improve our status and market share before the rest


of the world gains on us. This is a tough thing.” In Gutter’s opinion, another pressing issue in agriculture today is our nation’s aging farmers. “The average age of a farmer today is 57.1,” he said. “Right now, 30 percent of our farmers are 65 years old or older. And, whereas, in the past, the average age of a young farmer was 25, today the average age is 27,” he said. “It’s too easy for young adults to make a living away from the farm,” he said. “We need to identify incentives and support programs that will help young farmers get in, maintain and become successful in farming.” Gutter says that, in addition to an aging farming population, the skyrocketing costs involved in farming represent another challenge that needs to be addressed in the next farm bill. In summing up his work for agriculture, Gutter says his philosophy has always been to tackle issues that wouldn’t be addressed if he were not there. He pays close attention to details in certain niche areas like underserved communities. “I understand that we need to invest in growth in these communities even as we need to cut unnecessary spending. It is a balancing act,” he said. “We tend to focus a lot on creating new initiatives. I like to make sure that existing programs get the support they need to be successful.” Karis Gutter is a native of Terry, Mississippi, where his father resides today.




Farmers Will Rebuild and Replant By Samantha Cawthorn MFBF Public Policy Director In times of disaster, you discover the true character of a person or a community. Here in Mississippi, we know a thing or two about helping our neighbors rebuild. We have a good, strong network of disaster recovery volunteers who do a great job of helping when called upon. Through our legislative efforts at Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, we have made it easier for county supervisors to help with the clean-up of poultry houses. Mississippi Farm Bureau also has a disaster fund to help repair damage to property, helping cattle farmers repair damaged fences all across the state. The tornadoes that ripped through Mississippi in the spring left a wide path of destruction that will never be forgotten. Rebuilding your house and your business can be tough in the wake of a natural disaster, but there is one thing that defines a farmer: resilience. Resilient is what you call the farmers in the Delta who faced the mighty Mississippi River this spring. I do not think anyone was prepared for the flooding that came our way, but our farmers were not willing to give up without a fight. Moving all of your household belongings, your farm equipment, and your family is enough to exhaust anyone. To watch what had the potential to be your highest-yielding crops get swallowed by the swollen river is also a hard thing to do. Having a resilient attitude just comes with being a farmer. It is what helps them make it through the trying times. They know that when the water recedes


and the sky clears, they will clean the debris out of their fields and, weather permitting, replant a crop. It is a pleasure to work for an organization that represents the farmer. Without the farmer, we would be facing higher energy and food prices and a larger trade deficit. It is amazing to me that after losing entire crops our Mississippi farmers still contribute to their communities and to the state’s overall economy. I’m not sure about you, but I plan to eat my three meals a day and thank our farmers for all they have done to provide the abundance of food we can all enjoy.

Disaster Relief Fund The areas in Mississippi that were hard-hit by the April 2011 tornadoes and May-June 2011 flooding are populated by many Farm Bureau members. The board of directors of the Mississippi Farm Bureau (MFB) Foundation and Relief Fund has approved collecting funds for assisting the victims of these disasters who have uninsured ag losses. Contributions through the MFB Foundation are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of the funds received will be disseminated for use in assisting tornado and flood victims to help in restoring their farms and lives.


If your county or anyone in your county would like to contribute to this effort, please send checks made payable to “MFB Foundation and Relief Fund” to: Mississippi Farm Bureau Foundation and Relief Fund Attn: Mary Turner P. O. Box 1972 Jackson, Mississippi 39215-1972 Again, all donations will be tax-deductible. Thank you for your generosity in assisting our fellow Farm Bureau members who had uninsured ag losses during these disasters.


County Annual Meetings

Regional Managers Matthew (Matt) Bayles of Prentiss has been hired as Regional Manager for the new Region 5. He is also the Equine/Swine Commodity Coordinator. His counties are Warren, Yazoo, Attala, Leake, Madison, Hinds, Rankin, Simpson, Copiah and Claiborne. He will be moving to live within his region. Kevin Brown of Wiggins has been hired as Regional Manager for the new Region 8. He is also the Forestry/Horticultural Crops Commodity Coordinator. His counties are Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, Pearl River, Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson. Britton Hatcher of Grenada has been hired as Regional Manager for the new Region 3. He is also the Aquaculture and Corn, Wheat & Feed Grains Commodity Coordinator. His counties are Issaquena, Sharkey, Humphreys, Holmes, Carroll, Montgomery, Grenada, Leflore and Washington. Bayles and Hatcher are graduates of Mississippi State University. Brown is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. All of these men have extensive work experience in the field of agriculture. Other regional managers and their new regions include: ● Region 1 – Justin Ferguson, Cotton/Rice/ Soybeans Coordinator. Justin’s counties are Bolivar, Sunflower, Coahoma, Tallahatchie, Quitman, Panola, Tate, Desoto and Tunica.

● Region 2 – Terry Norwood, Apiculture Coordinator. Terry’s counties are Marshall, Lafayette, Yalobusha, Calhoun, Pontotoc, Lee, Itawamba, Union, Benton, Tippah, Alcorn, Prentiss and Tishomingo. ● Region 4 – Samantha Webb, Sweet Potatoes/Peanuts Coordinator. Samantha’s counties are Chickasaw, Monroe, Clay, Webster,

Choctaw, Oktibbeha, Lowndes, Winston, Noxubee, Neshoba and Kemper.

● Region 6 – Jon Kilgore, Beef/Poultry Coordinator. John’s counties are Scott, Newton, Lauderdale, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones and Wayne.

● Region 7 – Doug Ervin, Dairy/Land Program Coordinator. Doug’s counties are Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Lincoln, Lawrence, Marion, Walthall, Pike, Amite and Wilkinson.

Calhoun County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m. Multipurpose Building Pittsboro Desoto County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Aug. 16, 7:30 a.m. Hernando Library Hernando Holmes County Farm Bureau Thursday, Aug. 4, 10 a.m. Farm Bureau Office Lexington Humphreys County Farm Bureau Thursday, July 14, 9 a.m. Farm Bureau Office Belzoni Jefferson County Farm Bureau Wednesday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Fayette Leake County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 1 6:30 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Carthage Lee County Farm Bureau Saturday, Aug. 27, 6 p.m. TN Valley Authority Customer Service Center 3197 Brooks Road Tupelo Marshall County Farm Bureau Thursday, Aug. 4, 6 p.m. Marshall County Fairgrounds Perry County Farm Bureau Thursday, Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m. Catfish Wagon Runnelstown * Please bring a dish

Matthew Bayles


Kevin Brown

Britton Hatcher


Stone County Farm Bureau Thursday, July 28, 5 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Wiggins Union County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. Union County Fairgrounds Ladies Building









As this issue of our magazine was going to press in mid-May, the Mississippi River had crested at historic levels in Greenville and Vicksburg, and the levee system was looking good. Officials with the Mississippi Levee Board were also optimistic about overtopping on the Yazoo Backwater (YBW) Levee. Nevertheless, because of extensive backwater flooding along tributaries and because some property is located on the unprotected side of the levee system, thousands of acres of farmland were underwater with the possibility of more to come. Thousands of peo-

ple as well as farm animals and wildlife had been displaced. Andy Prosser with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture, estimates our state will see about 600,000 acres of cultivated and row crop acres underwater as a result of flooding. “Total acreage of everything, including forestry, cultivated crop land and other crop land, will total in and around 1.4 million acres,” he said Wayland Hill, hydraulic technician with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, said two counties not along the Mississippi River had a record flood at the end of April. “Quitman County had 105,000 acres along the Coldwater River, and Tallahatchie County had 26,500 acres flood along the Tallahatchie River when 12 to 15 inches of rain fell in 18 hours,” Hill said. In some of the photos, notice the levees built around grain bins, catfish ponds and houses. The photos on these four pages were taken in and around Yazoo and Warren counties by Greg Gibson (aerial shots and others) and Danielle Ginn.

Timber in Chickasaw County


Timber Damage

By Bonnie Coblentz MSU Ag Communications Tractors, Monroe County

Editor’s Note: On April 25-28, a number of states, including Mississippi, experienced one of the largest outbreaks of tornadoes (approximately 362) in U.S. history. Hundreds of lives were lost and an estimated $5 billion in damage was recorded. Mississippi also experienced tornado activity earlier in the month. The Greene County Farm Bureau office building in Leakesville was destroyed by a tornado on April 15. Business is being conducted in a nearby trailer. The following article looks at timber damage in our state. The photos on these pages reflect timber and other damage. All of the photos were taken by Danielle Ginn.

ornadoes that swept through Mississippi and much of the Southeast on April 27 caused an estimated $8.4 million in timber losses. The Mississippi Forestry Commission compiled the estimate on April 30, based on aerial surveys conducted after the storms. Russell Bozeman, director of forest protection and forest information with the commission, said the total affected area was about 26,240 acres. Of this, 15,564 acres were forested. “Severe tornado path damage was located in 18 different Mississippi counties,” Bozeman said. “The estimate of value losses does not include urban areas, sparsely forested areas, or non-forested areas where trees may still have been damaged.” Bozeman said this estimate is expected to change as more data is collected on the ground.




“These estimates were created by flying the damaged areas and using customized GPS units, called mobile sketchmappers, to map the paths through forestland,” Bozeman said. “We then use tree inventory data from the Mississippi Institute for Forest Inventory and imagery from the Mississippi Automated Resource Information System to get initial volume estimates. An average dollar per ton is then applied to pulpwood and saw timber volume of both pine and hardwood.” Clay, Lafayette, Clarke, Choctaw and Jasper counties saw the most forest damage. Damages ranged from 2,702 forest acres affected in Clay County to 1,115 acres damaged in Jasper County. “We typically have this kind of information within 48 hours of the event,” Bozeman said. “Due to the large area affected and the number of different damage paths, it has taken us a little longer to get our initial estimate.” According to information released online by the Internal Revenue Service, President Obama has declared Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Greene, Hinds, Jasper, Kemper, Lafayette, Monroe, Neshoba and Webster counties federal disaster areas. Victims of severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and associated flooding beginning April 15 may qualify for IRS tax relief. “Individuals who reside or have a business in these counties may qualify for tax relief,” their online statement says. “As a result, the IRS is postponing until June 30 certain deadlines for taxpayers who live or have a business in the disaster area.” JULY/AUGUST

Webster County Hay Barn



nce, privacy was considered a common courtesy, but that has changed. We can only speculate what the future holds, but predictions are not rare. Classic 19th century examples are Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” and “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, and, in the 20th century, “Buck Rogers” and “Dick Tracy” comics, Popular Mechanics magazine, the television series “Star Trek,” George Orwell’s “1984,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Arthur Clarke’s “2001, A Space Odyssey” made famous by Stanley Kubrick’s film. Not so often do we hear about the predicted future in legal matters except from those with an ax to grind. However, recent history may forecast a dim future for the right of privacy which, though not explicitly guaranteed in the United States Constitution, has been the subject of much legislation and litigation. The right was first addressed in a legal context in an 1890 Harvard Law Review article by Samuel D. Warren and Louis Brandeis, later a famous U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Today there are all kinds of privacy acts, financial, educational, medical, etc. There have been many decisions involving this, none more famous or controversial than the decision in Roe v. Wade1 holding that a woman’s right to an abortion was a private decision between her and her doctor. The nature of the right of privacy was explained in a 1928 dissent by Justice Brandeis.2 “The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope and include the right to life and an inviolate personality — the right to be left alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man’s home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of a man’s spiritual nature, his feelings and his intellect.” The cases involving the right to be left alone are legion. Nevertheless, there is a thread running through them which goes back to an 1886 U.S. Supreme Court decision3 which in turn relies upon a 1765 English case4 holding that the government could do only what the law allowed it to do, whereas the individual was free to do anything not lawfully prohibited. In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court expressly held that there was a right of privacy and overturned a Connecticut law prohibiting the sale, distribution or use of contraceptives5 for violating the most intimate private rights. Justice Brandeis’s assertion that there was such a right 75 years earlier was ultimately proven. Are we letting it slip away for the sake of convenience? 24


The Decline of Privacy By Sam E. Scott, MFBF General Counsel In spite of all the privacy laws, we may be surrendering our right to be left alone to modern technology. Computers, the Internet, credit cards, social networking, the sharing of mailing lists, etc., are rapidly eating into our privacy. Phone records tell who you talked to, when and for how long. GPS systems tell you where you are or were. For more than a quarter-century, a number of automobiles have been capable of recording some of your driving activities. Since 1999, event data recorders have become common and can reveal your speed at a given moment in time as well as other actions you may take behind the wheel. Evidence from these devices has been accepted by some courts. Now some states issue photo traffic violations. A photo showing the entire audience at a recent presidential inauguration can be blown up to focus on every person6 so you can no longer be “a face in the crowd.” In the information world, no scandal is so odious that in the words of an English author, “We can well suffer the details to elude us.” The term “jurisdiction” in legal parlance is the power of a court to act in two contexts, subject matter and territorial. Before the 20th century, courts could gain jurisdiction over a person (in personam) or over a thing such as property (in rem) only if they or it were found in the court’s territory. Defendants often absconded to other states. With advances in transportation and communication this began to change and states adopted “long arm” statutes which purported to give them in personam jurisdiction over nonresidents in certain situations. Mississippi’s statute was enacted in 1940.7 When challenges were made to such statutes on the ground they did not provide non-residents with due process, the U.S. Supreme Court in 19458 said, in upholding a long arm type statute, that they were constitutional if the non-resident had “sufficient minimum contacts” with the state and that the statute “will not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” As you can imagine, this has become a fertile field for applying that test. MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

When states began to pass laws making nonresidents subject to personal jurisdiction because of certain acts such as driving on the state’s highways or “doing business” in the state, the Mississippi Supreme Court opined in 1943 that The Commercial Appeal newspaper, published in Memphis, was not doing business here even though it delivered thousands of newspapers into the state every day.9 Just this year, in an alienation of affection case, the same court held that a man who frequently communicated with plaintiff’s wife from another state by cell phone and text messages but never was with her in this state could be sued here.10 I am confident he never realized he was here, but virtually being here was good enough. Do you know where you are? Will privacy go the way of sidewalks and screened porches? Not just Big Brother, but many others may be watching you.

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.

410 U.S. 113 (1973) Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928). A close 5 to 4 decision involving Federal agents wiretapping bootleggers’ phones in Seattle where wiretapping itself was a crime under state law. 3 Boyd v. U.S., 116 U.S. 616 (1886) 4 Enteck v. Carrington (1765) EWHC KB 598 5 Griswold v. Conn. 381 U.S. 479 (1965) 6 auth=033ef14483ee899496648c2b4b06233c 7 Gen. Laws Miss. 1940 ch. 246 8 International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945) 9 Lee v. Memphis Publishing Co., 195 Miss. 264, 14 So.2d 351 (1943) 10 Knight v. Woodfield, 2009-IA-01371-SCT (Miss. 2011) 1 2


Calender of Events

Member Benefits:

Adding Value to Your Membership

By Greg Gibson, Director MFBF Member Services Department

One of our most popular programs is the 20 percent discount offered by Choice Hotels. By reserving rooms on the Choice Hotel Web site and using Farm Bureau’s savings code, you can save 20 percent on every night you stay in a Choice Hotel, which includes Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Mainstay Suites, Suburban, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn. If you live in rural parts of the state, you might have trouble getting high speed Internet. HughesNet is the answer to your problem. Farm Bureau members can get a 10 percent discount on the service package that meets your needs. This satellite Internet system will allow you to surf the Web, download videos, and do many other things that are slow and cumbersome on a dial-up system.

Farm Bureau has signed a new agreement with Clear Value Hearing to offer Farm Bureau members significant discounts on hearing aids. Members can receive a free hearing test, free annual retests, free programming and maintenance, free case of batteries, and 25 percent off Starkey digital hearing instruments.





Your membership in Farm Bureau costs you a few dollars each year, but that membership fee allows you to participate in many Member Benefits programs that can save you hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars. Farm Bureau has signed agreements with many partner companies to provide products and services to Farm Bureau members at a discount. All of these services are available to you as a member, and all you have to do is provide your membership number or the special Farm Bureau code that is associated with that particular program. Here are just a few.

One of the most lifesaving benefits that Farm Bureau offers is a Medical Alert System for your home. Most seniors and persons with medical conditions or physical challenges would prefer to live in their own homes and be as independent as possible. That’s not always possible, but this dream can become a reality with the addition of this easy-to-use communications device. The PERS-3600 connects to a phone line and automatically places a call for help whenever assistance is needed. The console’s emergency alarm can be triggered by the help button on top of the console or by using the wireless wristband or pendant.

For more information on these and all of the other Member Benefits programs, visit our Web site at and click on the Member Benefits link. Or you can call Farm Bureau’s Member Benefits Coordinator Dedra Luke at (601) 977-4169. JULY/AUGUST


July 1 Application Deadline Farm Bureau Ambassador Contest July 7 Cotton Summer Meeting Grenada County Extension Auditorium Grenada July 12 Sweet Potatoes Summer Meeting Calhoun County Extension Office Pittsboro July 14 Corn, Wheat & Feed Grains Soybeans, Peanuts, Apiculture (a.m.) Beef, Swine, Poultry (p.m.) Summer Meeting MFBF Building Jackson July 15 Forestry Summer Meeting MFBF Building Jackson July 22 Rice Growers Summer Meeting Bolivar County Extension Auditorium Cleveland August 1 Mississippi Homeplace Producers’ Sale Southeast Livestock, AAL Hattiesburg

Solve the




ur mystery town is known in blues circles as the location where “the Southern crosses the Yellow Dog.” The Southern was once a line of the Southern Railway, and the Yellow Dog, officially the Yazoo and Delta Railroad, was part of the Illinois Central Railroad system. Established in 1897, this link was the central Delta’s major rail link for many decades, making this town one of the region’s most active passenger and freight connections. This crossing is referenced in many blues songs, including a 1914 recording by W.C. Handy called, “The Yellow Dog Rag.” As the story goes, Handy heard another man singing about “going where the Southern crosses the Dog” while he was waiting in a train depot in Tutwiler. Blues experts say that the harmonies Handy heard that day are the first documented use of blues harmonies. Our mystery town is the hometown of the late country songwriter, singer and comedian Johnny Russell. Russell is best known for “Act Naturally,” a song recorded by Buck Owens. Other artists who have recorded Russell’s music include Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Jerry Garcia, to name a few. This Mid-Delta town grew up in the late 1800s around sawmills, the railroad, and efforts by businessman/idealist Chester Pond and his wife Almeda 26


Gardner Pond to establish a new type of community where local sharecroppers and tenant farmers would have an opportunity to acquire land and homes and improve their circumstances. The Ponds established a school for young African-American women here. Our mystery town was incorporated in December 1899, and it quickly grew. After only two years, it boasted a post office, two hotels, a church, two public schools, an industrial college, railway and express offices, the Mississippi Cooperate Company (one of Pond’s businesses), a large sawmill, a lumber plant, planing and shingle mills, three patent dry kilns, a blacksmith shop, and many houses.


The name of our mystery town was taken from the bayou upon which the town was built. The name of the bayou came either from Pond’s memories of the Scotland moors or from a timber inspector, a Mr. Moorehead, from North Carolina. Today, approximately 2,500 people call this town home, and industries are basically ag-related. Farmers primarily grow row crops, and the Fish Belt Grain Mill is located here. Citizens of our mystery town plan to restore the old depot and turn it into a train museum. The facility might also give a nod to blues music and to Russell’s country music. This town has an active garden club, a Yellow Dog Festival held every April, and a Christmas Eve with Santa event held each December. It boasts two public schools and lots of churches. It is the home of Mississippi Delta Community College. Mayor George Holland, pictured with his vintage tractor, would like to see some of the historic buildings in the downtown area renovated, and citizens are already working on plans for this. The mayor would also like to have a walking trail built in the downtown park. Mayor Holland says he sees a bright future for the town, with citizens working together toward the common goal of having “a safe, clean place where young families can raise their kids and where retirees can feel at home.” Name this town. A special thanks to Sunflower County Women’s Chair Helen Allison, pictured with her roses, and to Mayor George Holland for their help with this article. Thanks also to “fevers, floods and faith, a history of Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1844-1976,” by Marie M. Hemphill.

Correct Guesses

Mail guesses to Solve the Mystery, Mississippi Farm Country, P.O. Box 1972, Jackson, MS 39215. You may also e-mail your guesses to: Please remember to include your name and address on the entry. Visit our Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Web site at: 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 July 31.


The correct answer for the May/June Solve the Mystery is McComb. 27

Woodworking: By Glynda Phillips

A Great Hobby


orking with wood — crafting furniture, birdhouses and other items — is a relaxing hobby for Doris Keifer of Rankin County. It is her therapy. “I’m retired now, and I could do this 24 hours a day,” she said. “It takes me away from my problems.” Doris’ studio is pretty therapeutic itself. Her woodworking equipment — the table saw, miter, planer and sander — is housed in a building that opens onto a lake. Sunlight through tall pines dapples the water, and you don’t see how in the world she can take her eyes off that long enough to make anything. But she can. Oh, occasionally, she’ll pick up a fishing pole and try her hand at catching bream. Or she’ll pause long enough to examine an eel or softshell turtle a neighborhood youth has brought by to show her. But most of the time, she is hard at work. On the day of my visit, Doris, 82, had just finished a pie safe for a friend. It sat in the shadows of her workshop. In another corner, in a great big tumble, sat one hundred bluebird houses she planned



to sell at the Canton Flea Market in May. She also shows at that city’s October flea market. Her booth sits right next to the funnel cake booth. Doris has been working with wood for about 25 years. “I started out making picture frames and didn’t like that, so I tried my hand at other things,” she said. “My late husband Don and I used to travel a lot, and I’d buy something and bring it home and study it to see how it was made. That’s how I learned. Then I’d add my own personal touch to make it uniquely mine. Doris began selling her crafts at shows in small towns across South Mississippi. “I have sold my work all the way down to the Louisiana line,” she said with a grin. “I’ve saturated South Mississippi with my birdhouses.” Doris, with her outgoing and fun-loving personality, quite naturally loved those shows. But with rising gas prices, she decided to let them go and concentrate on Canton. Today, as she prepares for that market, her finished birdhouses sit beneath a bright blue tent set up on the shaded lawn behind her house. Doris sells birdhouses made to look like tiny churches, old-timey dogtrot-style houses and old-timey outhouses. She sells bluebird and wren houses. She sells “Mississippi” birdhouses and houses that use motorcycle tags as roofs. (She gets the tags from a friend who owns an auto repair shop.) Her inventory includes “condos,” consisting of multiple birdhouses attached together on a long pole. Her “Mississippi” birdhouses feature the state of Mississippi carved on the front of them, with Mississippi scenes hand-painted by close friend Bobby Rowland, who once worked with artist Gail Pittman. “Churches are my most popular birdhouse,” she said. “That’s followed by the bluebird houses.” Doris says some folks actually let birds live in their birdhouses but most use them as decoration. She sells thousands of birdhouses every year. She also sells quite a few pie safes and, at Christmas, lots of wooden crosses made from ten-foot fence boards with Christmas bulbs attached. People use these as decoration, also. Doris’ son owns a fence business and gives her his culls and some-


times his surplus new wood. She works with cypress and cedar. When she’s not busy making things, she is motoring around the neighborhood on a bright red scooter, visiting neighbors and friends. She makes a point of helping them out when they are sick. Doris is a member of Cleary Baptist Church. She is a longtime member of Rankin County Farm Bureau. You can find Doris’ birdhouses at Lakeland and Callaway’s yard and garden centers and at Revell Hardware stores in Byrum, Florence and Pearl. For more information, email Doris at, or call her at (601) 209-2251.



^ By Glynda Phillips

jáëëáëëáééá Monday





nyone who has ever called Mississippi home surely possesses fond memories of the sights, sounds and scents that are uniquely ours. Anna Gant’s children’s book, entitled “Mississippi Monday,” casts a knowing and poetic look at a typical Mississippi Monday during each season of the year. For example, in the summer: ‘When the last warm rays of the setting sun glimmer on the horizon, there will be homemade ice cream out on the front porch and fireflies to chase.’

“I’ve had a very good response to this book,” Anna said. “Adults say that it reminds them of home and what it was like growing up in Mississippi. They say that I captured it pretty well. My dad says it makes him hungry because it talks about all of our delicious Southern foods.” Anna’s book has been nominated for the Mississippi Authors Award, sponsored by the Mississippi Library Association. The Mississippi Authors Award seeks to recognize and encourage Mississippi authors and to promote interest in local authors’ books, whether the books are about Mississippi or another subject. Books are honored in fiction, nonfiction and special categories. The recognition is great but, to Anna, the book was simply a labor of love. Five generations of her mother’s family, the Gillespies, have owned the same tract of farmland in Calhoun County near Vardaman. Her papaw farms the land today in cows and a bountiful vegetable garden. Getting Started “The spring that I was 17, my great-aunt suffered a stroke at the age of 62,” Anna said. “My mother and I stayed pretty close to home while she recovered.” Drawing has always been joyful to Anna, but it took on a new significance at that time. As an experiment, she used computer programs like Microsoft Paint, Gimp and Smooth Draw. “I had always wanted to try that type of artwork,” she said. “It is the same as painting on a canvas, only you use your mouse.” One day, Anna’s mom looked over her shoulder and said, “Looks like you have something special there with your artwork. Would you like to take an old manuscript of mine and put those illustrations to it?” Anna jumped at the chance. She worked hard on the project and, pretty soon, the material began to look like a book. “I draw and sell greeting cards, so I have my own publishing company called Lucy Jane Publishing. I knew that the next step was to look for a printer who would agree to print the book for my company,” Anna said. Walsworth Print Group in Missouri fit the bill. Publishing a Book “Walsworth worked with us from start to finish, and they were so nice,” Anna said. “They never made me feel like a 17year-old.” The book didn’t start out as a children’s story, but as Anna worked with a family friend, who is a children’s book editor, to


adapt her mother’s material to that type of format, she shortened sentences, took out parts and…voila! The result was a charming picture book. Anna deliberately left blank pages in the back of the book so that kids can draw or color on them, because that’s what she would do when she was a child. Anna printed 250 books, and she’s sold more than half of them. “I hope for kids that this book will build their imaginations and vocabularies,” she said. “I hope that it will teach them to appreciate where they live and where they come from. I hope that they see that a 17-year-old kid did this, and that they can use their Godgiven talents in wonderful ways, too.” Anna credits her family with helping her with the project. An aunt and an uncle are English teachers. Her mother wrote and published a children’s book some ten years ago. Her mother Lea and father Neil, who pastors Pleasant Grove First Baptist Church in Gore Springs, have been very supportive of Anna’s efforts. “The process of putting together, publishing and selling the book has been a great learning experience for our daughter,” Lea said. “It’s an experience she can carry into all of her future endeavors.” Anna is hard at work on a Christmas book tentatively entitled “The Calling Bell.” “The illustrations are coming faster with this book, and I should be finished by the end of summer,” she said. “I think it will be pretty neat. It is based on a bell owned by a family in Hickory Flat. The story has a nice little twist that reminds us that the Lord can turn our attention to Him in many ways…even through the ringing of an old bell.”

For more information, visit Also, look up Lea Gant’s children’s picture book, “Never Say Goodbye,” on the Internet. It talks about saying goodbye and the nature of grief. Anna attends Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.



Farm Bureau Events

Jack Alexander was honored with a reception upon his retirement after 36 years of service to the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. Most recently, Jack served as Regional Manager for Region 3 and as Commodity Coordinator for Poultry. He is pictured with his wife Ann.

Jack Alexander was honored upon his retirement with a resolution from the Mississippi Legislature citing his many contributions to Farm Bureau, agriculture and the state of Mississippi. He is pictured with Public Policy Director Samantha Cawthorn.

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation always has a popular commodity display at the Magnolia Beef and Poultry Expo in Raleigh. This annual event offers educational seminars and a trade show featuring agricultural equipment and other valuable information for beef and poultry producers.

Everyone attending the 2011 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Conference participated in hands-on learning activities.

Fifteen Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation leaders attended the National Women’s Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Over 500 people from around the nation participated in the event. 32


Financial Advisor Allison Grant addressed a luncheon held during the 2011 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Conference. She stressed the importance of keeping up with all records related to the home and farm. JULY/AUGUST

Farm Bureau Events

Secretaries attending the 2011 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Secretaries’ Conference learned about agriculture through hands-on activities like “churning” their own butter from cream. The participants used an Ag in the Classroom activity designed for that purpose. They later ate the butter on crackers.

As a fun learning activity during the 2011 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Secretaries’ Conference, the participants visited the Children’s Barnyard at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson.

The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation booth at Super Bulldog Weekend on the campus of Mississippi State University received lots of attention this year. Visitors enjoyed food and fun activities while learning all about agriculture.

Especially popular at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation booth during Super Bulldog Weekend were the children’s activities. State Women’s Committee Chair Betty Mills teaches children how to churn butter from cream. The state winner of the coloring contest is Sadie Hickman of Forrest County. Sadie attends Petal Primary School. She is pictured with Shelby Williams, vice chair, State Women’s Committee, Melleen Moore, chair, Forrest County Women’s Committee, and Carolyn Turner, chair, Region 7 Women’s Committee. Also pictured are the school principal, Dede Smith; Sadie’s mother, Beth; and her teacher, Tessa Trimm.










Mississippi Farm Country July/August 2011  

Telling Agriculture's Story

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