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A Publication of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation •

MI SSI SSIP PI FARM COUNT RY Volume 88 Number 4 July/August 2012

M ississippi Fa rm Country (ISSN 1529-9600) magazine is published bimonthly by the Mississippi Farm Bureau® Federation. Farm Bureau members receive this publication as part of their membership benefit. Periodicals postage is paid at Jackson, MS and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to P. O. Box 1972, Jackson, MS 39215

EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICES 6311 Ridgewood Road Jackson, MS 39211 601-977-4153 E DITOR - Glynda Phillips AD VE RTISING 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



4 LOCALLY GROWN One of the fastest-growing segments of American agriculture is locally grown food. Come with us as we learn more.

2 2 SOLVE THE MYSTERY Which Walthall County town is known for its dairy industry? It is also the county seat. Read the clues and make your guess.


BIRDWATCHING A Delta farmer talks about some things you can do to enhance birdwatching opportunities on your farm.

FARM BURE AU DIRECT ORS Carla Taylor, Booneville Mike Graves, Ripley Ronald Jones, Holly Springs Bill Ryan Tabb, Cleveland Randle Wright, Vardaman Neal Huskison, Pontotoc Mike Langley, Houston Bobby Moody, Louisville Wanda Hill, Isola James Foy, Canton Fred Stokes, Porterville James Brewer, Shubuta David Boyd, Sandhill Lonnie Fortner, Port Gibson Jeff Mullins, Meadville Mike McCormick, Union Church Lyle Hubbard, Mt. Olive Gerald Moore, Petal J. B. Brown, Perkinston Ken Mallette, Vancleave Betty Mills, Winona Jason Hill, Woodland

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

Departments 4 President’s Message 6 Commodity Update: Horticultural Crops 7 Commodity Update: Peanuts 24 Counsel’s Corner 26 Member Benefits Spotlight

HONORARY V ICE -PRE SID ENTS Louis Breaux Warren Oakley 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 Leah Beth Murphy holds tomatoes from the first harvest at St Bethany Fresh in Pontotoc. Read all about this new Northeast Mississippi hydroponic greenhouse operation, beginning on page 8.

Design: Coopwood Communications, Inc. MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY


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

From Our Farms to Your Table Nothing says summer in the South like a big vegetable garden. For many of us, putting in a garden each year is both a tradition and a joy. All of those rows and rows of good-looking tomatoes, sweet corn, butterbeans and squash not only fill us with a sense of anticipation because we know we are about to gain access to some delicious, healthy eating, but they remind us of our farming heritage and all that the land and our own two hands are capable of producing. You get a similar feeling when you visit one of the almost 60 farmers markets scattered across the state. Farmers markets give both urban and rural consumers access to fresh locally grown products, while providing small family farmers with a dependable market for what they grow. Other great farm-to-table markets include community and U-pick gardens, roadside stands and on-farm sales. Most small-town grocery stores (and quite a few larger stores) are doing a great job of selling locally grown foods. More and more restaurants have begun including them in their menus. The desire for fresh homegrown food and an opportunity to meet the farmers who grow it is a strong national trend. Local food represents one of the fastest-growing segments of American agriculture, with direct-to-consumer sales doubling in the past decade and now totaling about $1.2 billion per year. This issue of our magazine focuses on some of our own locally grown products, the farmers who produce them and the markets that sell them. I hope you enjoy.

Legislature In other news, I am happy to report that Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation hit quite a few high notes this year in the Legislature. Among those successes, we were able to assure that our landgrant agricultural units will continue to receive level funding and that an agritourism bill was signed into law. Senate Bill 2439 provides additional liability protection for agritourism operations and better promotes agritourism activities in Mississippi. For a complete recap of Farm Bureau activities during the 2012 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature, see Public Policy


Director Samantha Cawthorn’s article on page 20, or call her office at (601) 977-4226.

Farm Bill In conclusion, I’d like to encourage you to make a point of telling agriculture’s story to the consumers in your area. Remind them that farmers helped found this great nation of ours and that agriculture continues to help drive our national economy. Consider the facts:

● Agriculture accounts for one out of every 12 jobs in America. ● American farmers represent less than 2 percent of the total population, and yet, on average, one U.S. farmer produces enough food and fiber for 155 people in the United States and abroad. ● American farmers are so efficient that U.S. consumers spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food each year. ● Farmers are helping to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. ● American consumers have access to one of the safest, most affordable and most abundant domestic food supplies in the world.

Supporting our agricultural industry is especially important as we continue to work on the new farm bill legislation. Farmers must have the tools they need to effectively do their jobs, and that includes our Southern farmers. By the time you receive this publication, final decisions about the farm bill may have already been made. But the process could well extend into 2013. In any case, make a point of thanking our congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., for their continued support of Mississippi farmers. I am always eager to hear your ideas regarding the farm bill and all of the other matters of concern to Farm Bureau. We have accomplished a lot, but we still have much to do. Sometimes it feels like we are just getting started.



COMMODITY UPDATE: HORTICULTURAL CROPS Kevin Brown, MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Horticultural Crops

Horticulture’s Growing Economic Contribution

In 2011, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation homebuilding market. Horticultural crops are labor in(MFBF) Board of Directors voted to establish hortitensive during planting and harvesting seasons and cultural crops as a recognized commodity in the state. rely on a reliable guest worker program. Mississippi The horticulture industry is a broad and diverse area of Farm Bureau was instrumental in helping to block HB agriculture that includes such crops as fruit/vegetables, 488, which, if passed, could have caused legal worknurseries, turf grasses and pecans/specialty crops. ers to leave the state, leaving crops to rot in the field. The focus of the horticultural crops advisory comWith the building market still in decline, the nursery inmittee is to provide aid and information to the hortidustry is having a more difficult time marketing their cultural producers of the state. I would like to take this plants and flowers. These are two key issues that could opportunity to encourage all growers to get involved have a lasting impact on the future of horticulture in Brown on the county and state levels of Farm Bureau and to Mississippi. help grow this wonderfully diverse commodity group even larger Mississippi Farm Bureau will be hosting a summer commodity than what it is now. meeting at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Horticultural crops contributed $94 million of production to Extension Center in Biloxi on July 16, from 9 a.m. until noon. This Mississippi’s economy in 2011. This figure excludes sweet pota- meeting will offer valuable information to help you grow and toes but includes vegetables, melons, potatoes, fruits, tree nuts, maintain your current operation, in addition to developing imporberries, nurseries, greenhouses, floriculture, sod and Christmas tree tant policy to help guide the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation farms. This was a $1 million increase above the 2010 value of pro- staff and MFBF Horticultural Crops Advisory Committee for the duction. With the recent trend in consumer demand for fresh local upcoming year. food, look for this number to increase again in 2012. For more information about the MFBF Horticultural Crops Two major issues that could have a lasting effect on the horti- Program, contact the state office at (601) 977-4230. culture industry are the immigration labor concerns and the lagging

Herndon, Chang Named to MSU Positions

Cary W. “Bill” Herndon, a long-time leader in Mississippi State University’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, has been named the new associate vice president in the division. Since November 2008, Herndon has served as head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center at Verona. He previously

served for almost 25 years on the faculty in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Sam K. Chang has been named the new head of the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. Chang has been a professor in the Department of Cereal and Food Sciences at North Dakota State University (NDSU) since 1997. Be-

New MSU Aquaculture Leadership Jimmy Avery, who has served as the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service aquaculture specialist since 1999, has been named director of the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. David Wise, a research professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, has been named coor-


dinator of the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center. Wise has been employed by the center since 1993. In that time, he has conducted aquaculture research with an emphasis on fish health. The duties assumed by Avery and Wise were previously held by research professor Craig Tucker, who retired from MSU after MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

fore joining NDSU in 1984, he served as a research fellow at the University of Arizona and associate professor and head at the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan. After approval by the Institutions of Higher Learning, Herndon and Chang will begin their new responsibilities June 1.

more than 30 years of service. Avery will continue to serve as the Extension aquaculture specialist, in addition to fulfilling his administrative responsibilities at the aquaculture center. Wise will continue to conduct research in addition to his new responsibilities. JULY/AUGUST

COMMODITY UPDATE: PEANUTS Samantha Webb, MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Peanuts Lonnie Fortner, MFBF Peanuts Advisory Committee Chair

Peanut Acres Expand Across Mississippi

In 2012, planted peanut acreage is projected to come in at 50,000 acres or higher. That is at least a 233 percent increase from 2011’s 15,000 planted acres. As a result, peanut acreage should reach its highest point since 1942, when the state’s record high of 58,000 acres was planted. This should bring Mississippi into sixth place among the top 10 peanut-producing states in the nation, where more Webb planted acres are anticipated across the board. Nationally, peanut acreage is expected to increase approximately 25 percent to an estimated 1.42 million acres. This increase in acreage is primarily a result of higher peanut prices. A predicted shortage in the 2011 peanut supply due to a low crop carryover in 2010 and drought in 2011 resulted in peanut shellers increasing shelled peanut prices almost 85 percent to $1.30 per pound. These higher prices are prompting several longtime Mississippi peanut farmers to expand acreage and are encouraging many farmers across the state to plant peanuts for the first time. Along with the excitement of the expansion in acreage, comes the fear that overplanting could possibly flood the market with a greater supply than necessary and drive peanut prices back down; however, most industry experts believe that this is unlikely. At current projected planted acreage levels, average yields would produce approximately 2.2 million tons of peanuts nationwide to keep prices profitable. In addition, peanut demand seems to remain high, as peanut usage and consumer purchases continue to increase, even with a 30 to 40 percent increase in retail prices. J. Tyron Spearman, contributing editor of The Peanut Grower, said in the magazine’s May issue, “Consumers are positive about peanuts[,] and, as new nutrition information favors a vegetable protein, the trend of loving peanuts will continue.” The drastic acreage increase in Mississippi has farmers and peanut industry leaders statewide excited about the possibilities in store for Mississippi’s peanut industry. Mike Howell, Mississippi State University Extension Service area agronomist with peanut responsibilities, said that the North Delta would account for the largest acreage increase. Howell also stated that three new buying points were moving into the Delta region, with locations near Tchula, Greenwood and Clarksdale. In ad-



dition, plans are being made for a peanut shelling facility to open in the Greenwood area within the next couple of years. This large expansion in acreage is exhilarating for Mississippi’s peanut industry. Mississippi is highly suitable for growing peanuts because the state gets more rain and is not subject to the disease problems present in other places. In 2011, Mississippi recorded the highest peanut yields of any peanut-producing state, with an average yield of 4,601 pounds per acre, as compared to the national average yield of approximately 3,500 pounds per acre. Malcolm Broome, executive director of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association, said that, with the cooperation of the weather and a 2012 Farm Bill that has favorable provisions for peanut production, these factors combined should lead to a perfect storm for Mississippi peanut growers and big business for the state’s peanut industry in 2012. Resources: Mississippi Peanut Growers Get Highest Yields in Nation by Keri Collins, MSU Ag Communications, Farmers Plan 2012 Crops; Peanut Acreage to Triple by Associated Press, Market Watch: Will Contracts Return? Will Usage Continue Up with Double Digits? by J. Tyron Spearman, The Peanut Grower, May 2012.



Growing Tomatoes Year Round By Glynda Phillips

Leah Beth Murphy and her brother Stephen Hale in the St Bethany Fresh greenhouse.


Leah Beth Murphy isn’t surprised that locally grown food is one of the fastest-growing segments of American agriculture. Her family owns and operates St Bethany Fresh, a Pontotoc greenhouse tomato operation that is generating a whole lot of interest. St Bethany Fresh grows and sells fresh vine-ripened tomatoes year round. “Like me, a lot of people prefer to buy their food right off the farm,” Leah said. “They want to see where their food is grown, and they want to meet the farmers who grow it. “Also, like me, people want to be able to buy tomatoes during the winter months when the weather is too cold here in Mississippi to grow them,” she said. “What we usually find for sale in the winter are tomatoes that have been picked green and trucked crosscountry from warmer climes. Imagine being able to buy tomatoes any time of the year right off a farm near where you live.” With that vision firmly in mind, Leah’s family built the St Bethany Fresh greenhouse last fall. Tomato seeds were planted in December, and, by mid-April, tomatoes were ready for harvest. Leah says the tomatoes are already very much in demand. “People are coming to us,” she said. “We have been approached by two local restaurants and by a large grocery store chain. We may sell to higher-end restaurants and to grocery stores, but we haven’t decided to do that for sure. We would also like to sell to hospitals and schools. We will see what happens.” In April, St Bethany Fresh was selling tomatoes from a farm


We have been approached by two local restaurants and by a large grocery store chain.

stand in front of the greenhouse and from farm stands and stores in Pontotoc, Tupelo and Water Valley. They were also playing host to a steady stream of folks curious about what they are doing.

At St Bethany Fresh, tomatoes are grown hydroponically in a soil-free, soil organism-free environment. What people see when they visit the 12,000-square-foot, four-bay greenhouse are 3,000 tomato plants growing in 3,000 individual perlite-filled containers set in long rows down the length of the greenhouse. Each plant is fed nutrient-enriched water every 30 minutes by a computerized system, which also keeps the temperature in the greenhouse at an optimal level. Plants are pollinated by bumblebees. The greenhouse boasts one bumblebee box that is replaced every six weeks. Chemical pesticides are not used. At maturity, St Bethany Fresh tomato plants stand ten feet tall. During harvest, they are loaded down with tomatoes that look uniNaturally grown



form in size and color and are almost entirely blemish-free. “We appreciate organically grown produce, but we believe that our way of growing is even more natural,” said Leah. “We are not dealing with soil and decomposing matter, so the risk of salmonella is far less than with other forms of production.” St Bethany Fresh grows the Geronimo variety, which Leah says is the most disease resistant and has a wonderful taste. The pH level of the tomatoes is tested three times a day to make sure it is just right. And speaking of taste, Leah says that a visit she paid to Beaverdam, an Indianola-based hydroponic operation in the Mississippi Delta, sparked her interest in growing cucumbers. “I tasted their cucumbers, and they were divine,” she said. “We might consider adding cucumbers and lettuce in the future.” Leah, her brother Stephen Hale and other family members have attended workshops through Crop King, from whom they purchased seed and equipment. They’ve also attended Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service greenhouse tomato workshops. More recently, an MSU researcher called to ask if he could come out to help prune. “We are the first hydroponic operation in Northeast Mississippi, so we know that people are curious,” Leah said. “But Mississippi is a big agricultural state. Hydroponics shouldn’t be a difficult thing to accept. “We believe that most people will support this,” she said. “People are welcome to come by and tour our greenhouse. We hope that it generates interest and more people decide to do this.” Leah and her family would like to see the day when Mississippi is home to dozens of hydroponic greenhouses. “Facilities like ours are already a big reality in states like California and Florida,” she said. “We would like to see Mississippi leading the way with this.” One day soon, Leah says St Bethany Fresh will also offer something that area school kids can use to supplement their science class at school. Stay tuned. If you are interested in learning more, you are welcome to call St Bethany Fresh at (662) 213-2028, or visit their Web site at The name St Bethany is a combination of Stephen’s and Leah Beth’s names. Come See Us

Recipe By Judy Kelly, Holmes County

Tomato and Watermelon Salad 5 c. seeded watermelon cubes 1 ½ lbs. ripe tomatoes cut into ¾-inch cubes 3 tsp. sugar ½ tsp. salt 1 sm. red onion, quartered and thinly sliced ½ c. red wine vinegar ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil Romaine lettuce leaves (opt.) Cracked black pepper to taste



Combine watermelon and tomatoes in a large bowl; sprinkle with sugar and salt, tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in onion, vinegar and oil. Cover and chill 2 hours. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper to taste. This recipe is from “Country Cooking, Volume IV,” available at most county Farm Bureau offices. The cost is $15. If you order from the state office, you will pay $15 plus postage. For more information, contact Women’s Program Coordinator Clara Bilbo at 1-800-227-8244, ext. 4245


Campaign Connects Farmers, Restaurants By Kaitlyn Byrne MSU Ag Communications

Mississippi State University (MSU) is part of an effort to connect restaurants with Mississippi producers to get fresh local produce to consumers. MSU’s Extension Service is promoting Eat Healthy Mississippi, a campaign sponsored by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association (MHRA). The program unites restaurant chefs seeking local foods for their menus and growers who can supply fresh fruits and vegetables. In turn, restaurant patrons will have access to healthier foods. “By connecting local food producers to new markets, the Eat Healthy Mississippi campaign will benefit local economies,” said Ken Hood, Extension professor in MSU’s Department of Agricultural Economics. A vital part of the campaign is the Healthy Dining Finder at This nationwide Web site lists healthy restaurant menu options and can be searched by location. Each restaurant lists the number of items offered in different categories: healthy dining, sodium savvy and kids eat well. The Web site includes healthy recipes that incorporate fresh local produce. “The Web site tells consumers where they can find healthy choices in restaurants, plus they will be able to get recipes so they can try them at home,” Hood said. Mike Cashion, Executive Director of MHRA, said Eat Healthy Mississippi is creating new relationships between growers and restaurants.


“We’re developing a working roster of local growers that restaurants can easily access,” he said. Paige Manning, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, said the campaign has the potential to increase business for growers. “This initiative will potentially lead to consumers eating more Mississippi-grown fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, which will expand our specialty crop industry.” Manning said MHRA, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and the MSU Extension Service have collaborated to encourage farmers and restaurants to use Mississippi MarketMaker, a site dedicated to connecting markets and quality sources of food from farms and fisheries in Mississippi. The free service is online at Recent consumer trends indicate a growing demand to know where food is from and a preference for locally grown products, Manning said. “Eat Healthy Mississippi gives consumers the option to buy locally when dining out and creates more healthy dining options, which could lead to better health.” Manning said restaurants could see an increase in revenue by meeting consumers’ demands for local produce. “With increased access to locally grown fruits and vegetables, restaurants will be able to fulfill consumer demand,” she said. “Restaurants offering healthy menu options that incorporate local produce could experience an increase in the number of diners and revenue.”



Know your farmer Know your food Small and limited resource farmers in Winston County are marketing their produce directly off their farms through a United States Department of Agriculture program called Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. The farmers are members of the Winston County Self Help Cooperative, which gives both adults and youth the educational, informational and networking opportunities necessary to build successful farming operations. “The mission of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program is to show consumers where their food is grown, how it is managed and how it is packaged,” said Frank Taylor, who has served as president of the Winston County Self Help Cooperative (WCSHC) since 1991. “The program teaches consumers about agriculture, but it also gives our small family farmers a market they can count on that provides them with a higher share of the food dollar.” Farmers involved in the WCSHC vegetable program learn which types of vegetables are in demand, when to plant them, how to grow them and how to effectively market them. Winston County farmers grow greens, peas, lima beans, corn, watermelons, potatoes, cabbage, English peas and tomatoes. “Seventy-five percent of our farmers sell directly off their farms,” Taylor said. “But some of them also sell through farmers markets and grocery stores and to local restaurants.” Youth involved in the vegetable program grow and sell vegetables then donate $5,500 of their profits to needy famGrowing Vegetables

By Glynda Phillips




ilies so they too can purchase the materials needed to successfully grow vegetables. “This process creates relationships, develops communication skills, helps people in need and benefits our youth through physical exercise,” Taylor said. “It also teaches youth how to better manage our natural resources. “Through our cooperative vegetable program, we are introducing Mississippians to fresh produce,” he said. “As those of us who grew up in the country well know, there’s nothing better tasting than fresh vine-ripened fruits and vegetables.” WCSHC participants also learn how to raise and market cattle. In 2001, the Winston County Self Help Cooperative submitted a proposal to Heifer Project International. The proposal was funded in 2002. “We used the funds to purchase 40 bred heifers,” Taylor said. “We gave five heifers to each of eight cooperative members, and they signed a Letter of Agreement to maintain the health of the animals as well as their membership in the cooperative. They also agreed to each give back five heifers to other cooperative members. We still do this today.” Cattle Production

Co-op members are required to maintain their membership for one year before they can receive animals. Members must also attend 75 percent of the meetings each month. In addition to the vegetables and cattle, members also learn how to manage their timber. Taylor says he is indebted to the Winston County Extension Service for its help. Co-op meetings are held at the county Extension office. “Without Winston County Extension Director Mike Skipper’s assistance, we would not have succeeded.” Co-op members have built relationships with groups such as the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives; Alcorn State University Extension Program; Mississippi State University Extension Service; Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine; Heifer Project International; the United States Department of Agriculture and all related agencies; National Wildlife Federation; Mississippi Forestry Commission; and Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “Through these relationships, landowners know which agencies to contact for help with Working Together

their farms and other endeavors,” said Taylor, a longtime Winston County Farm Bureau member. “It is a process that teaches people to go through the process of contacting people. Sustainability is key.” Ten years ago, the Winston County Self Help Cooperative numbered 31 adult members. Today, it consists of 75 adults and 110 youth. The co-op also now has a radio program and a market bulletin. Similar co-ops are being patterned after WCSHC throughout Mississippi and in Alabama. The Winston County Self Help Cooperative has won numerous local, state and national awards. Taylor says the accolades are great, but the knowledge that the cooperative helps small farmers is even better. “It is so gratifying to see individuals – some 80-plus years old – thrilled with the program, knowing they have a resource that will help them survive economically on the farm,” he said. “It’s also great to know we are doing our part to help keep rural America alive and well.” For more information, contact Frank Taylor at (601) 291-2704 or Visit the Web site at

Recipe By Betty Mills, Montgomery County

Cabbage-Cheese Casserole 2 T. flour 2 T. butter or margarine 1 c. milk 1 c. grated cheese 1 med. cabbage, shredded Buttered bread crumbs ½ tsp. salt

In skillet, stir flour, milk and butter to make cream sauce. Add cheese. Cook cabbage in salted water until tender; drain. Alternate layers of cabbage and cheese sauce in buttered



casserole dish. Top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through.

This recipe is from “Country Cooking, Volume IV,” available at most county Farm Bureau offices. The cost is $15. If you order from the state office, you will pay $15 plus postage. For more information, contact Women’s Program Coordinator Clara Bilbo at 1-800-227-8244, ext. 4245


By Glynda Phillips

Celebrating the

Best of Mississippi

farmers market is a great place to shop for locally grown food and a wonderful way to support Mississippi farmers. Mississippi boasts a network of some 60 farmers markets scattered across the state. Approximately 20 of them are certified. Through the Mississippi Certified Farmers Market Program, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce recognizes those farmers markets that actively promote the sale of Mississippi-grown and Mississippi-made products. Livingston Farmers Market in Madison County is a certified farmers market. Each year, Livingston Farmers Market offers some 30 vendors, who sell everything from honey, vegetables, bread and fruit to stone-ground grits, milk, shrimp, eggs and cheese. One local Madison County farmer even sells homegrown organic beef and lamb. In addition, you will find arts and crafts booths, hot food, live music and cooking demonstrations. This year, Mississippi writers are scheduled to sign books, and Mississippi artists will exhibit their work. As usual, there will be plenty of activities for kids.


Like a Country Fair “Our farmers market celebrates the very best of Mississippi,” said Walt Bowie, who with his father-in-law David Landrum, helps to organize the market each year. “Folks enjoy browsing the stands, listening to music and visiting with their neighbors. It is almost like an old-time country fair.” Bowie says the market is open every Thursday, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. The late-afternoon/early-evening time frame gives people an opportunity to relax and shop after work, under a canopy of 185-year-old cedar trees. Bowie says it is an experience most visitors don’t soon forget. “A farmers market offers a farm-to-table mindset that people are drawn to,” he said. “Our farmers market is also very festive and social. We average about 1,000 visitors each week. People come from all over the metro area.” Last year, Livingston Farmers Market even held a tailgate party under a tent in honor of the first college football game of the season. Town of Livingston Livingston Farmers Market is set up on the old Livingston town site. Livingston was founded in the early 1800s by settlers drawn to area springs. Around 1829, the town became the second designated seat of government for Madison County and the first site of the county courthouse. (The first county seat was the town of Madisonville.) When the railroad came through Canton, the courthouse was moved there, and Livingston


slowly began to die out. Walt says plans are on the table to rebuild the community and give it an 1800s feel, using original roadbeds and preserving many of the original hardwood trees. The first phase of the new Livingston Township will feature an Old Towne Square, a courthouse, restaurants, wedding chapel, working farm (where folks can see first-hand how their food is grown), farmers market pavilion and old-time country store. For More Information This year, Livingston Farmers Market will be open until Oct 4. The market is located at the corner of Highways 463 (Mannsdale Road) and 22 near Madison. For more information, call Walt at (601) 707-7789 or (769) 2347517, or visit the Livingston Farmers Market Facebook page. The photos here are compliments of Livingston Farmers Market.

Recipe By Clara Bilbo, Madison County

Summer Fruit Salad 5-oz. (1 ½ c.) uncooked sm. shell pasta 1 c. seeded watermelon chunks 1 c. fresh strawberry halves ½ c. seedless grapes 1 kiwi fruit, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced ½ c. purchased poppy seed salad dressing 3 c. torn mixed salad greens Cook pasta to desired doneness as directed on package. Drain; rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. In large bowl, combine cooked pasta and all remaining ingredients; mix well. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 (3/4-cup) servings. This recipe is from “Country Cooking, Volume IV,” available at most county Farm Bureau offices. The cost is $15. If you order from the state office, you will pay $15 plus postage. For more information, contact Women’s Program Coordinator Clara Bilbo at 1-800-227-8244, ext. 4245



Veteran Vendor

Growsand sells

Cut Flowers

Zinnia Photos from Ric Shafer & Steve Bailey

By Glynda Phillips

Ric Shafer of Vicksburg is a longtime vendor at the Mississippi Farmers Market in Jackson. He sells vegetables, cut flowers and farm-fresh eggs. When you visit Ric’s booth, you see a reflection of his Dolly Farms, which is named for his flower-loving mother. The flowers catch your eye first. Depending on the time of year, you will find colorful bouquets of bachelor buttons, dianthus, snapdragons, sweet peas, zinnias, larkspur, daffodils, narcissus, Dutch Iris, roses and cockscomb, to name just a few. Ric also sells artichokes, tomatoes, Swiss chard, lettuce, carrots, squash, okra, cucumbers and radishes, also depending upon the season. He says he grows his vegetables organically, but they are not certified organic. Ric raises chickens outdoors in wire cages and supplements their feed with lots of greens, which he says makes for delicious, healthy eggs. He also sells peacock feathers when he has them. “Peacocks usually drop their feathers each year by July 4,” he said. “I put them in a vase or sell them individually. One of the biggest fads for weddings right now is peacock feathers. I had a family from Texas buy all of my peacock feathers one year to put in wedding invitations and bouquets.” Ric started out selling at the old Belhaven Market in Jackson many years ago. He also sold for a time at the factory outlet mall in Vicksburg before settling down at the Mississippi Farmers Market. “In the beginning, I would just take vegetables, and they sold well,” he said. “But my dad grew up in the Poconos, and he would tell me about his dad growing and selling flowers during the Great Depression. He said people wanted to buy flowers even when money was tight. So I began bringing flowers to market, and they did well, also.” Ric sells his bouquets for $5 each. “My zinnias are my real claim to fame,” he said. “I plant an acre of them every year, using a precision planter with a cucumber plate. I believe that I grow the best giant zinnias in the state. I buy the best

Growing Zinnias


seed, and I know when to plant them and how to grow them.” Ric plants 20,000 seeds every season. He buys his seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. “Johnny’s not only sells seed but offers growing instructions and a germination guide for every crop,” he said. “I am also a devoted fan of Gardening Mama Nellie Neal’s radio show. “If you want to grow great zinnias then purchase the best seed you can afford,” he said. “In my experience, Benary seed, especially the Benary’s Giant Series, is the best. But the Giant Dahlia Mix offered by Johnny’s also produces a quality flower for less cost.” Ric says zinnias are easy to grow, and they are also the one plant that deer won’t try to eat. He is a big proponent of growing naturally. As a growing tip, he says if your plants develop powdery mildew, dissolve aspirin in fish emulsion and spray that onto the leaves. Fish emulsion is sold at most garden stores. “It won’t get rid of the mildew,” he said, “ but it will stimulate the



plant’s immune system so that the plant can naturally throw it off.” As a tip for selling flowers at a farmers market, Ric says put them in red containers. Red seems to draw the most interest. He uses juice cans, which he paints red. If you want to be successful selling at a farmers market, Ric advises that you get to know your customers. “You have to enjoy working with people, and you have to have a sense of humor,” he said. “We are like one big family here at the Mississippi Farmers Market, and I have a group of loyal customers.” Ric says that a recent demographic study showed that most farmers market customers fall within a 30- to 45-year-old age range. While that may be true, he says he has also noticed quite a few older and younger customers. Furthermore, he says he has noticed that faces change from year to year. “We had a lot of new faces, more young adults in their 20s, this year,” he said. In conclusion, Ric says that a farmers market represents a good service to consumers. “We need more of them,” he said. “This is a good way to get in touch with the people who grow your food, and it is a great destination thing. Both adults and kids seem to enjoy a farmers market.” Ric is also known as the “Santa Man” during the Christmas season, when he brings a 5-foot, 2-inch toy Santa, which dances and sings five different carols. In addition, he makes and sells Christmas wreaths from trimmings gathered from Christmas tree lots in Vicksburg and from the cedars, pines and berries growing on Dolly Farms. “What really sets it off is that I place a fresh-cut camellia in a flower pick and add that to the wreath,” he said. Selling at a Farmers Market

The Mississippi Farmers Market is an 18,000-square-foot facility that offers 32 stalls with rollup doors. In addition to farm-fresh prod-

Mississippi Farmers Market


ucts for sale, attractions include Mississippi craftsmen and artisans; cooking demonstrations from culinary schools and chefs from area restaurants; live entertainment; senior citizen’s and children’s activities; and seasonal events and promotions. Breakfast and lunch are served in the Farmers Market Grille, located inside the market. The Mississippi Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, contact Will Scarborough, manager, at, or Delarce Henry, assistant manager, at Or you may call (601) 354-6573. If you are interested in learning more about Johnny’s Selected Seeds, visit the Web site at or call 1-877564-6697.



Community Gardens Grow in Popularity By Susan Collins-Smith MSU Ag Communications

Community gardens have gained popularity in Mississippi in recent years. “The economy is one reason we have seen a resurgence of interest,” said Lelia Kelly, Consumer Horticulture Specialist with the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service. “People are staying home more and looking for ways to cut costs and still maintain their quality of life. Teaming up with neighbors and friends to create a community garden helps cut production costs and is an attractive alternative to the high costs of grocery store produce.” Cary Lindsey, an undergraduate student at MSU and mother of three, was looking for a way for her family to improve their health and be less dependent on the supermarket for their food. “I read Lester Brown’s “Plan B 4.0” for a class, and it really got my attention,” Lindsey said. “All of a sudden, recycling wasn’t enough for me anymore. The book really made me think about what my family could do to remove ourselves from the grocery store, have a more positive effect on the environment and live a healthier lifestyle.”


Lindsey convinced her landlord to allow her to start a community garden project on the site of a neighboring house that had been torn down. She invited individuals with varying levels of gardening knowledge to join the project. They built 12 raised beds with materials salvaged from a demolished building and shared tools, such as drills and shovels. Community gardens allow participants to control the quality, freshness and availability of the fruits and vegetables they grow, Kelly said, making a healthier lifestyle more acces-


sible and affordable. People who grow community gardens will increase the types of fruits and vegetables they have access to simply because a grocery store is only going to stock items that sell quickly, said Ann Twiner, MSU Extension Health Agent in Sunflower County who manages a youth garden project. People who grow gardens are also more likely to eat what they grow. Plus, gardening can be economical and a great form of exercise. “Our garden came together because those who know how to garden shared their expertise with others who wanted to learn,” Lindsey said. “Find the people in your community with the knowledge you need and get them to share.” County Extension agents can provide advice and gardening resources for gardeners of all levels. Helpful publications include “The Garden Tabloid,” publication 1091, and “Gardening at Your Fingertips,” publication 2585. These publications offer gardening schedules, pest management information and Web sites with gardening information and can be found on the Extension Web site at


Calendar of Events

June 27 Summer Sweet Potato Commodity Meeting County Extension Office Pittsboro June 28 Summer Peanut Commodity Meeting County Extension Office Grenada July 12 Summer Forestry Commodity Meeting Plum Creek Nursery Georgetown July 16 Summer Horticultural Crops Commodity Meeting Coastal Research & Extension Center Biloxi July 17 Summer Equine Commodity Meeting Mississippi Horse Park Starkville July 18 Summer Cotton Commodity Meeting County Extension Auditorium Grenada July 19 Summer Swine Commodity Meeting Starkville July 20 Summer Rice Commodity Meeting County Extension Auditorium Cleveland July 23 Summer Soybean Commodity Meeting County Extension Auditorium Grenada July 24 Summer Honey Bee Commodity Meeting MFBF Building Jackson August 1 Summer Corn, Wheat and Feed Grains Commodity Meeting August 1 Application Deadline Farm Bureau Ambassador Contest


Summary of Legislative Session By Samantha Cawthorn MFBF Public Policy Director

The 2012 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature ended on May 3, 2012, with a vote on redistricting maps for the House and Senate. This brought to an end a long 120-day session. When a governor is elected, the session is extended from 90 to 120 days. This legislative cycle saw one of the largest freshman classes yet, with 47 newly elected members. For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans controlled both houses and the governor’s office. Topping the list of accomplishments of the new leadership would be the Child Protection Act and the Sunshine Act. The Legislature ended three days ahead of the scheduled final day and went home early during session, saving taxpayers money. The 2013 regular session will convene on January 8, 2013, for a 90-day term. The following are significant bills supported by Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation that were passed into law during the past legislative session: Agritourism – Provides limited liability to farmers engaged in agritourism operations (i.e., corn mazes, pumpkin patches, U-pick gardens), who register with the Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Metal Theft – Adds center pivots and grain bins to the three-day holding period that metal recyclers are currently abiding by. Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act – Creates a volunteer committee of small

business owners and officers who review proposed and existing regulations in our state to determine if those regulations are harmful to small businesses. MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

Appropriations Bills

MSU Funding – The success of Mississippi

agriculture depends on the research, education and services provided by the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. During the 2012 session, Farm Bureau was able to help secure level funding for the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture and the Alcorn State University agriculture programs. National News Labor

On the national front, we have been successful in getting the Department of Labor to withdraw part of the proposed Child Labor Regulations. The proposed regulation would have hindered family farms in Mississippi and the nation. The rule would have also had a potentially harmful impact on 4-H and FFA programs that work with livestock. Here is a quote from the Department of Labor on the issue: “To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama Administration.” We are in the process of writing the 2012 Farm Bill. The Senate has written their version, and it passed from committee. The Senate is anticipating taking the bill to a full Senate vote around Memorial Day. The House is currently holding farm bill hearings across the country and has yet to schedule when they will consider it in committee. Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), House Agriculture Committee, has been outspoken on the lack of inclusion of all commodities in the Senate proposal. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) did not vote for the Senate proposal in committee because of the lack of support for Southern crops. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is greatly appreciative to have such a strong advocate for Mississippi and Mississippi farmers. Don’t forget that Nov. 6, 2012, is Election Day! Farm Bill


Our mystery town is the county seat of Walthall County. It is also known for its dairy industry. Walthall County is called the Cream Pitcher of Mississippi because it leads the state in milk production and number of dairies. Read the clues and make your guess. This town was settled in the 1800s by a man named Jake Owens, who built a grist mill on Dry Creek. Other businesses soon followed, including a mercantile store owned by Garland Hart and a blacksmith shop operated by William Glanville Tyler. Tyler’s son, Thad, would go on to become a very successful local businessman. Other early settlers included the Magee and Thornhill families. The town began to grow in earnest when Cullen Conerly built several mills on Dry Creek, including a sawmill, a cotton gin and press, a rice pestle mill, and a grist mill. Conerly would later help his brother-in-law, Benjamin Lampton, buy Hart’s mercantile store, where a post office would be established and Lampton would become the town’s first postmaster. Back then, the town was known as Conerly. After the Civil War, the town took its present name and was formally incorporated in 1907. Agriculture, especially cotton and timber, played an important role in our mystery town’s early growth and development. The railroad was also important. The Fernwood Lumber Company, Fernwood, Columbia & Gulf (FCG) and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio (GMO) railroads played significant roles.


Solve the






The Town Today Today, our mystery town boasts approximately 1650 residents. Agriculture remains important and includes dairies, timber, poultry and beef. Industry and retail also contribute significantly to the economy. One of the town’s first businesses, which remains in operation today, was a funeral home begun by an African-American businessman named Jim Washington. Washington owned one of the first horsedrawn hearses in the area. May’s Restaurant has been a part of the community since the 1960s. The third generation of the family runs the business today. The local newspaper dates back to 1907, and Jones Furniture, with over five decades of service, has been open since 1939. Luter’s Supply, established in 1944, is considered by industry reps to have the world’s largest display of tubs, showers and whirlpools. Kalencom, maker of Hadaki women’s accessories, has a distribution center and factory outlet here. Jones Lumber Companies makes wood pallets and mats for oil fields and wood chips for gardening and the paper mill. The town also boasts a large concrete mix business. Hurricane Katrina dealt this town a severe blow in 2005, but residents have worked together to rebuild and grow. Our mystery town has revitalized several of the historic downtown buildings, available to prospective businesses through lease or lease-purchase arrangements. Other historic buildings include the downtown Methodist church, the county courthouse (a twin to the courthouse in Franklin County), and the historic China Grove Methodist church, located six miles east of town. All of these buildings are pictured above. Pictured on the opposite page are the bell at the downtown Methodist church, the gazebo at the downtown park, and The Whistle Stop Garden Center and Pet Shop in the former depot. Each year, this town holds a popular dairy festival on the first Saturday in June at Holmes Water Park. Other important events include a lavish display of Christmas lights, called Christmas in the Park, held from Thanksgiving night until New Year’s Eve at Holmes Water Park; a Martin Luther King Day parade and observance on the third JULY/AUGUST

Monday in January; and a Bluegrass on the Creek event each May at the Southwest Events Center. The bluegrass event is partially funded by the Mississippi Arts Commission. The local chamber also organizes an Easter parade and egg hunt each year. The parade is held on the town square, and the hunt is held at Holmes Water Park. “Our slogan around here is that we are the Cream Pitcher of Mississippi, and we feel that cream rises to the top,” said Mayor Ed Hughes. “We try to concentrate our efforts on our kids, and we offer many activities for kids. Our town is a close and caring community and a safe community. It is a great place to live and one of the best places in the state to grow a family.” Name this town. A special thanks to Doug Walker for his help with this article. Correct Guesses Mail guesses to Solve the Mystery, Mississippi Farm Country, P. O. Box 1972, Jackson, MS 39215. You may also email your guesses to: 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. May/June The correct answer for the May/June Solve the Mystery is Petal.




French Lessons By Sam E. Scott, MFBF General Counsel


Bureaucracies are often strange, sometimes manifestly so. Case in point: Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered an odd solution to struggling family farmers – prohibit or limit the work that teenagers can do in agriculture. Accepting the merit in a statement once made by General de Gaulle about France – how do you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese? – how do you govern a country that has numberless rules and regulations that should have some relationship to common sense? In one of Christopher Morley’s books, the narrator says, “Common sense? Good heavens, common sense is the most uncommon thing in this world.” This new USDA rule was to prohibit anyone under 18 from working in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials. In my youth, I would have escaped a lot of work and spent that time playing baseball, basketball, or what is now called “hanging out.” But instead, I stored fresh-picked cotton in a long sack, loaded it out of a cotton house one wicker basket at a time, hauled it to the gin, sucked it off the trailer (at one time, I could back up and spot two cotton trailers in tandem, which ain’t easy), and stored many a bale of hay in the barn in July and August, long-sleeve shirt on and collar buttoned, using several foolhardy ways to knock down wasp nests the size of a plate. Talk about hot! It never crossed my mind that getting stung would one day violate federal law. I couldn’t have driven a John Deere two-cylinder tractor with a hand clutch (and six forward gears 50 years before autos), hauling trailer loads of beans to the grain elevator. In short, I could have been characterized with the term my dad used for irresponsible people: “sorry.” And he didn’t mean regretful. To my mother’s chagrin, my dad enclosed about two acres behind our house with barbed wire after building a small barn with two stalls. Perhaps persuaded by the old adage that a boy can’t become a man in clean clothes, he put two calves in the back lot, supposing that every boy had to feed and halter break some Shorthorn calves to progress in life. Unfortunately, our sandlot baseball field was within


hailing range, and Dad could walk out in the yard and proclaim, “Son, come home and feed.” We never played extra innings. This enterprise came to an end while I was clipping the grass on a tractor with the front cultivators still attached, cut too close and bumped the barn with the cultivator and it came off the concrete blocks that it sat on. Luckily, the calves were out grazing, but the barn was soon torn down, along with the fencing, and “Mother knows best” proved itself again. In the last 50 years, I have thanked my lucky stars for having the experience and learning the lessons which the government sought to forbid. By the way, this regulation would have imposed a 90-hour federal government training course to replace its approval of safety training taught by groups such as 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America. Think how many new bureaucrats could have had those jobs. A poll conducted on the new regulation generated almost 6,000 responses to the question of what was behind this. Of those, 46.83 percent said get more control over rural America, 36.51 percent said dictate how children are raised and 16.66 percent said force farmers to hire illegal aliens. Maybe all those are correct, but I would add: “just plain dumb.” After reading that the regulation was almost finalized, I learned that, on April 27, 2012, the USDA had withdrawn its proposed regulation. Shucks, I guess that dooms youngsters to working on farms. What a shame, all that hangingout time gone. Again, referring to the French, General de Gaulle would have said, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which translates to: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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.

With special thanks to Mrs. Laura Funderburk, a Farm Bureau member in Houston, Mississippi.



Farm Bureau Events

Dianne Dyar of Dyar Communication Strategy addressed the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership and Secretaries’ conferences. Other speakers included Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith and Farm Bureau Ambassador Alan Smith at the women’s conference and Vickie Greenway, Aaron Baker and Anita Webb at the secretaries’ conference. MFBF President Randy Knight and State Women’s Chair Betty Mills addressed both conferences.

Teacher of the Year for 2011 Patsy Prewitt of Washington County addressed the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership Conference. She is pictured with State Women’s Committee Chair Betty Mills.

Smith County Farm Bureau board member James Ford visited the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation commodity display at the Magnolia Beef and Poultry Expo in Raleigh. JULY/AUGUST

Those attending the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Secretaries’ Conference participated in hands-on learning activities.

Silent auctions were held during both the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Leadership and Secretaries’ conferences.

The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation booth for Super Bulldog Weekend at Mississippi State University received lots of attention, as visitors enjoyed food and fun activities, while learning all about agriculture. 25


What Do I Get For My Membership Dues? By Greg Gibson, MFBF Member Services Director

I’m sure that many of you have asked yourselves this question over the years. I hope that if you posed it to someone in your county Farm Bureau office they were able to tell you about all of the things that Farm Bureau does and all of the discounts you receive just by being a member. If you haven’t asked, let me fill you in on a few of the many Member Benefits that you can take advantage of to help save you money. Dell Computer Discounts Almost every household in America has a personal computer these days – sometimes two or three. Farm Bureau has an agreement with Dell to offer member-only pricing on all personal PCs from Dell, including 30 percent off list price for select configurations. Members can also receive special pricing on select electronics and accessories. To find out what deals are currently available, go to or call 800-6958133 to speak with a sales representative. Grainger Products Discounts Grainger offers special Farm Bureau discounts and is a preferred Farm Bureau supplier for maintenance, repair, operations and safety products – thousands of commercial and industrial products with brand names you know and trust. Save on products you use every day.

• FREE FREIGHT on • 10 percent off Grainger Catalog Price • 48 percent off Manufacturer’s List on DeWalt Tools • 35 percent off Farm Duty Motors • 30 percent off select Safety Items • 52 percent off Manufacturer’s List on Stanley Hand Tools • 55 percent off Manufacturer’s List on Proto Hand Tools • 45 percent off Manufacturer’s List on Blackhawk Tools • 46 percent off Manufacturer’s List on Milwaukee Tools • 60 percent off Manufacturer’s List on Westward Tools Visit Grainger’s Web site at or call 1-800-323-0620.

Prescription Drugs Discounts This free program offers an average savings of 30 percent on prescription drugs for Farm Bureau members and their families. It can be used if you don’t have health insurance or if your insurance doesn’t include prescription drugs. You can also use this program if the specific drug you need is not covered by your health plan. There are no forms to fill out. Simply take your pharmacy card with your prescription into one of the 56,000 participating pharmacies nationwide (listed on the back of the card) to qualify for discounts on medications. These cards can be picked up at your county Farm Bureau office or printed out online from our Web site at For more information on these or any of the other wonderful Member Benefits that come automatically with your Farm Bureau membership, call your county Farm Bureau office, visit our Web site at or call Member Benefits Coordinator Dedra Luke at (601) 977-4169. 26




Birdwatching Article and Photos by Rob Heflin

Nest boxes are largely responsible for bringing species like the wood duck back from extremely low levels to the abundant numbers of today.

What would you say if I told you that birdwatching and farming go hand in hand? It is true. There are many things you can do around the farm that can provide birds with much-needed habitat, while providing you and your family with the enjoyment that comes from being the good stewards of the land that you already are.


My first glimpse into “bird-friendly farming” came when I drove a tractor for the Pilkingtons near Columbus, when I was a student at Mississippi State University. Mr. Charlie always left a header-width strip of soybeans standing around his fields at harvest time. “The quail need some, too,” he’d say. Delta farmers didn’t leave food for quail; rather, they left it for ducks. It just seemed acceptable for a farmer/hunter to leave a little for his feathered friends to munch on. I imagine a few birds were killed over these offerings, but far more birds benefited from the food than were killed by hunters. By leaving unharvested rows of corn, rice, soybeans, grain sorghum, wheat and oats, you are providing a valuable food source for birds on your farm when food is scarce in the dead of winter. A 30-foot-wide strip, one-quarter-mile long, occupies less than one acre. Crop Plantings

Sunflowers provide highly nutritious seed to a variety of birds. This field is annually planted for doves, but many species of songbirds benefit from the oily seeds.

That 30-foot-wide strip isn’t a lot to you and me, but it means the world to a little bird like the Bobwhite. Quail need to be able to find food, water and cover, all within their 40-acre home range. If you have a 1,000-acre farm, leaving one or two strips of crop or fallow ground may be fine for waterfowl, but think small for the smaller birds. You can plant native grasses like big and little bluestem, switchgrass and indiangrass, forbs like wildflowers and legumes like clovers and partridge pea along ditch banks and wood lines. These are probably places where you don’t make maximum crop yields anyway. And by planting strips of these native plants, you can reduce erosion and provide nesting, brood rearing and feeding areas for quail, turkeys and songbirds on your farm. If you do it through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) folks, you can also get paid to implement this practice. I took two 30-foot-wide strips in one of our fields and planted them in Chickasaw plum. Four rows of plums, spaced six feet apart, make great escape cover for smaller birds and quail. I flanked each strip with six rows of soybeans, which I leave standing all winter. The rest of the field I plant in sunflowers that I manage for dove hunting. I planted most of our old fishpond levees in native grasses, wildflowers and partridge pea. I also planted some levees in white clover and flanked those levees with four rows of plums. By managing these areas for quail and songbirds, I’ve also created habitat for rabbits and deer. When you provide habitat for the little guys, the bigger critters benefit as well. Native Plantings

You don’t always have to plant something to provide quality habitat. Sometimes, simply disturbing the soil allows the seeds God has already planted to thrive. Disking fallow areas every third year or controlled burning helps set back plant succession and provides great habitat. Native grasses and partridge pea thrive in areas that have been burned once every two to three years. Disking fields that have grown up allows bird-friendly annual plants to come back after being dominated by perennials, shrubs and trees. Disking Habitat Manipulation


also creates dusting areas for quail and turkeys. If you have low-lying areas that typically hold water throughout the year, disking them every third year allows duckfriendly grasses to out-compete perennials that don’t produce as much food. Disking in the fall, followed by early-fall flooding and delayed water removal in the spring, makes excellent shorebird habitat for fall and spring migration. Holding water into February and March gives waterfowl a place to build up energy reserves for the flight north and for egg laying. You can hold water on fields until late March and early April and still have soybeans and corn planted in it by the first week of May. Everyone is familiar with the wood duck box. This man-made nesting structure helped the wood duck population come back from all-time lows decades ago. It is now one of the most abundant ducks in North America. Many other bird species readily nest in man-made nest structures. Mergansers, bufflehead, whistling ducks, prothonotary warblers, chickadees, wrens, bluebirds, purple martins, barn owls and screech owls are just a few. These boxes can be placed in fields, woods, swamps and even shop yards and around homes. My shining example of nest boxes on our place is a barn owl box under one of our equipment sheds. After noticing a pair of owls at dusk on a couple of occasions, I climbed up to peek inside the box. It contained one owl and several headless rats! You can truly appreciate this if you live next to grain bins like I do. As you can see, the little things add up when it comes to providing quality habitat for birds around your farm. If you can fit crop or native plantings, habitat manipulation or nest boxes into your farm plan, I think you will be rewarded handsomely with the benefits of “birdwatching” on your back forty.

This Wilson’s phalarope was feeding in chestdeep water held in an old catfish pond in late spring. Shorebirds like this phalarope need this type of habitat on their migrations from North to South America and back each year.

Nest Boxes

Rob Heflin of Isola is an avid hunter and amateur photographer who has been managing wildlife habitat on his family farm for 12 years. For more information about his photos, please visit


Blue-winged teal move through in early fall and late spring. By flooding in late summer and holding water until late spring, you can provide critical habitat for these and other birds during migration periods.

Nest boxes placed in swamp habitat provide valuable nesting areas for neo-tropical migrants like this prothonotary warbler. These beautiful yellow birds winter in mangrove swamps in South America and return to the southern U.S. each spring to raise their babies.

These wildflowers and native grasses, along with legumes, crops and disked areas, make great habitat for birds around your farm. The wildflowers are also bee-friendly and can even keep husbands out of the doghouse on occasion when accompanied by a vase and an apology. 29

Farm Bureau is Mississippi’s


Secret To Humphreys County Farm Bureau volunteer leader Wanda Hill, it often seems that Farm Bureau is one of Mississippi’s bestkept secrets. “I love Farm Bureau, and I wish more people were aware of all that we have to offer to not only farmers but all Mississippians,” she said. “Our Public Policy Program alone is worth the cost of your membership dues each year. “Public Policy gives grassroots members a voice in the legislative process, allowing them to express their opinions on issues that impact their lives,” she said. “Our volunteer leaders get to participate in Farm Bureau’s policy development and implementation process, and we get to meet with local and national lawmakers. A lot of people don’t realize that. “Another thing I enjoy about my Farm Bureau membership is the access it gives me to experts who can answer my questions,” she said. “Our regional managers are knowledgeable about all of the Farm Bureau programs, but they can also answer my questions about any of the recognized commodities that are grown here. “We have safety experts to call with safety questions, an environmental expert to call about environmental issues and a Land Program expert to call about questions related to our land,” she said. “We also have one of the best Member Benefits packages in the nation. You can easily earn back what you spend on your dues just by using one of these programs.”


Wanda appreciates every Farm Bureau program, but the one that is closest to her heart is the Women’s Program, with which she has worked for some 33 years. She is the current Region 8 Women’s Program


Women’s Chair, but she served for many years as a county women’s chair. “Each year, our Women’s Program raises funds for worthwhile causes, including Blair Batson Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House in Jackson, and four $2,000 scholarships that are presented annually to female college students,” she said. “All of this is wonderful, but one of the main objectives of the Women’s Program is to educate people about agriculture and the role that it plays in our lives. “We hold Agriculture in the Classroom teacher workshops every June, where over 100 teachers learn how to better teach children about agriculture,” she said. “We take materials and Learning Barns into all of our schools each year. We also work with the Children’s Museum in Jackson, which is a great way to familiarize not only children but their parents with Mississippi agriculture. “In addition, we coordinate the Farm Bureau Ambassador Contest, which selects a college-age youth to travel the state and talk about agriculture and Farm Bureau. The ambassador receives a $2,000 scholarship, and the alternate receives a $1,000 scholarship.” Supporting state agriculture is important to Wanda. She and her husband Herbert, their son Wayne, and Herbert’s brother Charles grow farm-raised catfish, wheat, soybeans, cotton and milo on their Tom Hill and Sons farm near Isola. They farm a little over 300 acres of catfish ponds, down from their all-time high of 716 acres. Their operation was established in 1978. “We have lost a lot of catfish ponds in Mississippi in recent years due to foreign competition and high input costs,” she said. Delta Farmer



Farm Bureau benefits everyone. It gives not only farmers but all of our members an opportunity to speak out on issues that concern them.

“But I think that this has stabilized after more than a 50 percent loss. The remaining catfish farmers can stay in business now. We won’t get rich, but we can do what we love to do, and that is grow delicious farm-raised catfish.” In the past, Wanda served as chair of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Aquaculture Advisory Committee and as a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation Aquaculture Advisory Committee. Her son Wayne is the current state committee chair. In conclusion, Wanda urges volunteer leaders to continue working together to make sure that Farm Bureau and agriculture remain strong in Mississippi. She says she also wants to see the Every Mississippian


day when every Mississippian is a Farm Bureau member. “Farm Bureau benefits everyone,” she said. “It gives not only farmers but all of our members an opportunity to speak out on issues that concern them. “Making sure that our grassroots members feel that their voices are being heard on the state and national levels is what we are all about,” she said. “I think that is pretty wonderful.” Wanda Hill serves as president of Humphreys County Farm Bureau and as a state director.



By Glynda Phillips

Pictured, from left, are Carole King, Tammy Layton, Trish Yelverton, Chris Williams, Ann Layton and Candice Wolken.

Farm Bureau Spotlight

Simpson County

Simpson County Farm Bureau has received many awards and accolades through the years for its outstanding work on behalf of Farm Bureau and Mississippi agriculture. County volunteer leaders believe strongly in the total Farm Bureau program, but they are especially aware that everything begins with the youth.

“Our kids are the future,” said Women’s Committee Vice Chair Ann Layton. “We want school children to understand how important it is that our state and nation maintain a strong agricultural industry.”

for fourth-graders. Simpson County Farm Bureau tries to always send one or more youths to the Youth Safety Seminar each June. In addition, they are involved in the Sale of Junior Champions in February on both the county and state levels. They hold their own Junior Livestock Show and Sale and sponsor every kid who enters on the county level. Simpson County Farm Bureau also sponsors the Simpson County 4-H Shooting Sports Program, involving about 80 youths and 10 adults, by sending adult leaders for training and by purchasing shooting equipment. Simpson County Farm Bureau has begun a scholarship program and is in the process of The first Farmers Appreciation Day Luncheon was developing the requirements for it. a great success.

Teaching School Kids Each year, Simpson County Farm Bureau volunteer leaders carry Agriculture in the Classroom materials into every county school. They also make sure that all schools have a Learning Barn. “Ag in the Classroom is very important. If you ask a student where a cheeseburger comes from, most will say McDonalds,” said President Carol King. “We want them to understand that a farmer raises the beef for the burger and milks a dairy cow for the cheese. A farmer grows the lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion that you put on your burger.” “We target the kids, but the teachers appreciate our Agriculture in the Classroom efforts, also,” added Women’s Committee Chair Tammy Layton. “One of them said to me, ‘I don’t know what the kids learned, but I learned a lot today.’” County volunteer leaders also partner with the local Extension office, Soil and Water program and county co-op to present a number of special activities each year, including Soil and Water Conservation Day for sixth-graders; Fifth Grade Farm Day for fifth-graders; and Safety Day 32

Farmers Appreciation Day In addition to their work with school children, Simpson County Farm Bureau volunteer leaders make sure that adults appreciate farmers as well. They held their first Farmers Appreciation Day Luncheon this year, and it was a great success. “Our Farmers Appreciation Day Luncheon was an inspiration from Jack Alexander,” said Candice Wolken, who was in charge of the event. “We fed our farmers lunch. They also enjoyed the many booths set up by local businesses to demonstrate how much all of us depend upon



farmers. We had a total of 15 sponsors.” Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith addressed the luncheon, which included some 90 area farmers. “Our county president blessed the food, but he also blessed the crops and Simpson County agriculture,” Candice said. “We thought that was very touching and meaningful.” Candice and her husband Mark are active in the county Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Program and served a term on the YF&R State Committee. Poultry is the number one agricultural commodity in Simpson County, followed by timber and beef. Active Program In addition to their many educational activities, county volunteer leaders annually raise funds for the Farm Families of Mississippi ag promotion campaign. Last year, they also raised money for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Foundation and Relief Fund for victims of the flooding and tornados. The Simpson County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting is always well-attended as is their annual Christmas meeting. Volunteer leaders hold political meet and greets for politicians on an as-needed basis, and they make a point of participating in all of the state Farm Bureau programs, including Ag Day at the Capitol, Ag Day at the Farmers Market, the commodity conferences and the policy development meetings. They also help sponsor the annual Magnolia Beef and Poultry Expo. Simpson County Farm Bureau volunteer leaders worked hard to promote eminent domain reform and are very proud that Initiative #31 passed. Within their community, Simpson County volunteer leaders work with numerous charitable organizations, including the Red Cross of America and Gateway Mission. They also help the local Relay for Life and support Dixie Youth Sports in Magee, Mendenhall and Harrisville. “I know that Simpson County residents are compassionate and caring,” said King. “This was especially evident after Hurricane Katrina, when we joined together to help our neighbors.” Yesterday & Today Simpson County Farm Bureau was established in 1952, and the first president was Robert McIntosh. Today, Carol W. King serves as president, and the county has 2,756 members. Simpson County Farm Bureau has achieved 2012 quota. Simpson County Farm Bureau still occupies its first office building in Mendenhall, which is named for George Mangum, who was agency manager for 40 years. His father Wilkin Mangum also served for a time as agency manager. Simpson County Farm Bureau also has a satellite office in Magee. The current vice president is Price Wallace, and the secretary/treasurer is Trish Yelverton. Active directors include Wiley Ainsworth, Ann Layton, Perry Lee, Carlisle Miller, Donnie Welch, Nell Hughes, Todd Dupré, Bennie Sue May, Tom McAlpin Sr., Steve Maddox, Mark Wolken, Jeff Jennings, Joe Magee, Walter McCallum Jr., Jimmie Adcox, Tammy Layton and Mike Sykes. JULY/AUGUST

2012 County Annual Meetings Calhoun County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Multipurpose Building Pittsboro Farmers enjoyed the many booths set up by local businesses during the Farmers Appreciation Day Luncheon.

The women’s chair is Tammy Layton, the vice chair is Ann Layton, and the women’s committee includes Candice Wolken, Susan Dupré, Jill Grubbs, Ann McCallum, Rose Ainsworth, Bennie Sue May, Janella Lee, Marsha Magee, Paula Williams, Nell Hughes, Penny McAlpin, Pam Maddox, Amanda Blakeney, Ashley Jennings, Gina Miller, Stephanie Welch, Cindy Wallace, Beverly Maddox, Jan Smith and Mary Lou Adcox. Region 3 Women’s Chair is Peggy McKey, and Region 5 Regional Manager is Matt Bayles. Office staff includes Chris Williams, agency manager; Trish Yelverton, membership secretary; Annette Ford, secretary; Keith Moore, agent; and Chris Bowen, agent. Office staff in Magee includes Sheb Roberts, secretary; Robin Breeland, secretary; Dennis Berch, agent; and Dan Johnston, agent. “We have such a good board. They get things done,” King said. “We also have an excellent staff. We all work together here in Simpson County to help our county and state and to teach people about agriculture. “Farm Bureau is a great organization,” he concluded. “We are very proud to be a part of it.”

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Blog By Kirsten Johnson MFBF YF&R Coordinator

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is excited to announce that it is launching a blog. The blog will serve as a resource where visitors can gain access to agriculture-focused articles. The content of the blog will change regularly and will include recipes, children’s activities, farmer stories and a segment called Ag 101, which will explain an agricultural practice that is vital to everyday food production. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation serves as the Voice of Agriculture® for Mississippi farmers. Our intent is that everyone who accesses our blog will learn something about state agriculture and the important role that it plays in our lives. The blog is designed to engage both farming and non-farming families. We are eager to hear your thoughts. The blog address is MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY

Desoto County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Aug. 21, 7:30 a.m. Hernando Library Hernando

Jefferson County Farm Bureau Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Fayette

Leake County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 6, 6:30 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Carthage

Lee County Farm Bureau Saturday, Aug. 25, 6 p.m. North MS Research & Extension Center 5421 Hwy 145S Verona

Marshall County Farm Bureau Thursday, Aug. 2, 6:30 p.m. Marshall County Fairgrounds Holly Springs

Perry County Farm Bureau Thursday, Aug. 2, 6:30 p.m. Catfish Wagon Runnelstown Please bring a dessert!

Union County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m. Union County Fairgrounds – Ladies Building New Albany








Mississippi Farm Country  

July/August 2012

Mississippi Farm Country  

July/August 2012