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A Publication of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation •

New Membership Option -

Farm Bureau Bank Dear Farm Bureau Member: Farm Bureau was founded in the early 1900s by a group of farmers wanting to build more profitable farming opera-

tions and good, safe communities in which to live. While issues and challenges may have changed over the years, the mission and goals of Farm Bureau have remained true to the spirit of our founders. We work hard each year to surface pro-

grams that will help you have a better life and make a better living.

This past spring, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors voted to offer Farm Bureau Bank as a new

membership option. Farm Bureau Bank, which began operating in 1999, currently supports the financial needs of more

than 100,000 banking members across 42 states.

Farm Bureau has always listened to its members. Back in those early years, leaders responded to the need in rural com-

munities for quality, affordable insurance services. Similarly, a strong policy development and implementation program

was established to work with issues affecting members’ lives and livelihoods. Recently, through the policy development and implementation program here in Mississippi – and also in response to a need expressed by members – our state achieved eminent domain reform.

I use these successful programs as examples to show you that when we offer a new membership option like Farm Bu-

reau Bank you can be assured of its strength and financial stability. Just like any other program, Farm Bureau Bank will be there wherever you are and whenever you need it – now and for generations to come.

Farm Bureau Bank offers a wide range of banking services, and members can access their accounts by phone, fax, mail,

and through a 24/7 Internet Banking Service. For more information, visit the Farm Bureau Bank Web site at or call 1-800-492-3276. You may also contact your county Farm Bureau office.

I encourage you to take advantage of this great new membership option, and I thank you for your continued support

of Farm Bureau.

Randy Knight President

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation







MI SSI SSIP PI FARM COUNT RY Volume 88 Number 5 September/October 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 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





An agritourism business venture gives farmers an opportunity to teach consumers about their way of life while earning extra income with their farm or land. Come with us as we learn more.

2 2 SOLVE THE MYSTERY Which town is the seat of government for Lawrence County? Our mystery town celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. Read the clues and make your guess.

3 0 BATS & AGRICULTURE Mississippi is home to 15 different species of bats, all voracious insectivores. A recent study has shown that insect-eating bats are estimated to save the U.S. agricultural industry approximately $22.9 billion each year in pest-control expenses. Learn more about this inside.

“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 6 President’s Message 8 Commodity Update: Poultry 9 Commodity Update: Corn, Wheat and Feed Grains 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. Design: Coopwood Communications, Inc.

About the cover Nothing says fall like a field of bright orange pumpkins. Quite a few Mississippi agritourism operations offer pumpkin patches and other activities to teach kids and adults about agriculture. This photo is courtesy of MSU Office of Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence. MISSISSIPPI FARM COUNTRY


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

Let’s Work Together to Grow Farm Bureau Fall is a great time of year. Hot summer days are finally giving way to cooler weather, and county fairs, college football games and harvest season are officially underway. But there’s something else that I enjoy about the fall. In late September and early October, quite a few of our family farmers begin offering corn mazes and pumpkin patches that bring school kids and their parents out to the country for a fun day of learning. Agritourism gives farmers an opportunity to teach consumers about their way of life while earning extra income with their farm. In Mississippi, in addition to corn mazes and pumpkin patches, you will find everything from U-pick gardens to seasonal festivals to country villages. A few of these businesses stay open year round. Realizing that agritourism is a growing segment of state agriculture, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation helped secure the passage of Senate Bill 2439 during the 2012 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature. This bill provides limited liability to farmers engaged in agritourism operations who register with the Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Hopefully, the new law will contribute to the future growth of a most promising industry. In this issue of our magazine, we feature several Mississippi agritourism operations. I hope you enjoy. Also, check out the next issue, which will explore other land use opportunities as we feature the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Land Program. Farm Bureau Bank In our continuing effort to remain responsive to your needs, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors voted this past spring to move forward with adding Farm Bureau Bank as a new membership option. Already, Farm Bureau Bank supports the financial needs of more than 100,000 banking members across 42 states. As with any membership option that we offer, you can be assured that its strength and financial stability will be there for you and your


family now and for generations to come. More information can be found on pages 2 and 3. You can also visit the Farm Bureau Bank Web site at or call your county Farm Bureau office. Let’s Grow I want to talk to you for a moment about Farm Bureau. Each year, our volunteer leaders and staff work together to voice the concerns of Mississippi farmers. That’s our mission. But we are also not afraid to speak up – often against great odds – about issues that concern all Mississippians. Our eminent domain reform campaign is a perfect example. That campaign gave a larger audience a closer look at Farm Bureau, and people responded. We must not forget this important lesson. In addition to telling the farmer’s story and generating a strong support for Mississippi agriculture, let’s begin thinking about how we can better spread the word about Farm Bureau and the many programs we offer that are designed to help not only farmers but all Mississippians have a better life and make a better living. Farmers need us right now more than ever before, but the general public is also hungry for that sense of community and strength of purpose that we so uniquely offer. Farm Bureau volunteer leaders are a close-knit group of folks who are active in churches and communities across the state. We share the same conservative values as well as a desire to make a difference. All of us are convinced that Farm Bureau is the answer. As I complete my first term as your president, I am proud of all that we have accomplished, but I see so much more that needs to be done. As I visit with you, I am heartened to discover that you feel the same. Let’s put our thoughts together and come up with some dynamic new ways to grow this great organization of ours. I am open to your suggestions. Farm Bureau deserves nothing less than our very best effort.



COMMODITY UPDATE: POULTRY Kyle Rhodes, MFBF Poultry Advisory Committee Chair Jon Kilgore, MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Poultry

Farm Families Make Our Country Great Poultry is Mississippi’s largest agricultural industry, annually contributing $2.4 billion to the state’s economy. Over the past several weeks, I have talked to several poultry producers and want to share with you their perspective on how this vital industry carries with it a long line of history that maintains the core values of our Mississippi farm families. These values have helped make our nation great.

Family Time Kirby Mauldin farms with his father, uncle, cousin and brotherin-law in Jones County. “My family is very close. We spend a lot of time together. As hectic as things get, family time is something that is getting lost in our country,” he said. Mauldin appreciates the fact that he can work at home, set his own schedule and, most importantly, have the flexibility to spend time with his wife and children. “The chicken business has been good to me,” he said. James King, a Jasper County poultry producer, said, “The ability to be at home and be my own boss is very important to me.” When asked to share what he has cherished most, King’s response was, “My son has been out here with me since he was old enough to walk. He is attending MSU now. Those are priceless memories to me.” King joined his father-in law, and their family farm has raised chickens for 57 years. Woody Odom is a third-generation poultry producer from Covington County. His grandfather began raising chickens in 1962. Odom is grateful for the good, honest living it has provided his family through the years. He is also grateful that his kids are a part of the operation. He, too, has priceless memories of the life lessons this profession

Women’s Ag Tour

Make plans to participate in the annual Women’s Ag Tour set for Oct. 4-5. Sponsored by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Program, this year’s event will visit agricultural operations across North Mississippi. Participants will learn about sweet potato, greenhouse tomato and cotton production, visit Amish farms and make a stop at an agritourism operation in the hills of Itawamba County. These are just a few of the scheduled events. For more information, contact MFBF Women’s Program Coordinator Clara Bilbo at (601) 977-4245. 8



has provided to his family for many generations, with the hopes of many more to come. Jason Pickering is a first-generation producer. He simply says that he wouldn’t want to do anything else. Although all of these producers agree that, at times, this type of work calls for many long hours and a 24/7 commitment, Pickering says it allows you a certain amount of flexibility so you can spend time with family and participate in community and church activities. Heart of Success The poultry industry provides a great financial benefit to Mississippi’s economy. It is a good fit with other ag-related businesses, such as cattle, U-pick vegetables and greenhouses, to name a few. However, it is possible that these producers are also carrying on family traditions that are at the heart of success for this nation. These strong, core family values are what make our country great, and these poultry farmers are doing their part to represent the farm families of Mississippi for many generations to come.

Annual Rice Tasting Luncheon

Delta Rice Promotions, Inc. will host the annual Rice Tasting Luncheon on Sept. 21 in the Walter Sillers Coliseum at Delta State University from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. This year’s event will feature over 300 different rice dishes, provided by local restaurants and Bolivar County rice-growing families. Tickets may be purchased at


county Extension offices throughout the Delta, as well as local Farm Bureau offices, and will be available for purchase at the door. For more information, call (662)843-8371. Delta Rice Promotions, Inc. is a group of individuals representing farms, agribusinesses, farm organizations and government agencies.


COMMODITY UPDATE: CORN, WHEAT AND FEED GRAINS Jan Hill, MFBF Corn, Wheat and Feed Grains Advisory Committee Chair Britton Hatcher, MFBF Commodity Coordinator for Corn, Wheat and Feed Grains

Increased Acreage for Corn, Wheat and Sorghum

As the hot summer days tick by, Mississippi farmers are once again gearing up for another harvest. For many, this year’s crop looks to be miles ahead of last year’s and, for some, not so much. As you may or may not remember, 2011 presented many considerable challenges to grain crop producers, including historic Mississippi River flood levels and severe drought during the summer.

More Acreage This year, Mississippi growers planted an estimated 840,000 acres of corn, which is up 30,000 acres compared to last year; 450,000 acres of wheat, or 110,000 acres more than last year; and 65,000 acres of sorghum, which is an additional 13,000 acres more than last year. The United States as a whole planted an estimated 96.4 million acres of corn. This is up 5 percent from last year, making it the highest corn acreage in the last 75 years, according to the Acreage report released June 29 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Corn production in the United States has now increased four years straight. This will be our nation’s largest corn acreage since 1937, when producers planted 97.2 million acres. A significant acreage increase was also reported for wheat. The report showed that growers planted 56 million acres for all wheat, including spring, Durum and winter, a 3 percent increase from 2011. More acres were seeded to winter wheat this year due to expectations of better net returns compared with last year. Early Planting Dry weather encouraged early planting and March temperatures were well above normal, which helped corn growers get off to a fast start in 2012. These early plantings were able to



take advantage of cooler temperatures during May and June, and some regions received timely rainfall. June is generally the most important month for corn production, as the crop proceeds through its early reproductive stages. This is when pollination is at critical period for corn development and yield. The hot, dry spell during late June and the first week of July is bound to hamper productivity, though, particularly of dryland fields and, likely, later plantings. It will be interesting to see how the crops play out, as it’s shaping up to be an early harvest. It will also be interesting to see how our yields stack up to previous years. Currently, if we continue the pace we are on, we are on track to have one of the highest yields this state’s seen since 2007, when a record was set of 148 bushels/acre. With all that said, only time will tell.

Sources used: Dr. Erick Larson and USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

MSU Extension hires beekeeping specialist

On July 1, Dr. Jeff Harris began his new position as an Extension Service apiculture specialist and researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Dr. Harris previously worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the honeybee breeding laboratory in Baton


Rouge. For the past 12 years, he has focused his research efforts on breeding honeybees resistant to the Varroa mite, a pest that afflicts and weakens honeybee colonies. You may contact Dr. Harris at (662) 325-2976.



Teaching Kids aboutAgriculture I said, “Somebody should do something about that.” Then I realized I am somebody. - Lily Tomlin

Jody Bailey doesn’t think twice about giving of her time and energy to a worthy cause. If something needs to be done, she steps right up to the plate. In addition to her responsibilities as the wife of a busy Yalobusha County cotton farmer and mother of two active kids (Mackenzie, 11, and Cole, 7), she serves her church, her children’s school, her community and, of course, Farm Bureau. Promoting Agriculture Agriculture receives a lot of Jody’s time and attention because it is close to her heart. She has spent her entire life on a farm. Her father raises beef cattle, and her husband Coley annually grows 3,500 acres of mostly dryland cotton. “When I was growing up, after my brother went off to college, I even raked hay for my dad,” she said with a smile. “With Coley, I do whatever he needs me to do. I help him move the tractor, or pick up workers, or run errands.” In the fall of the year, the Baileys open an 8-acre pumpkin patch, where pumpkins are free for the pickin’. “We get a lot of school kids who come out to pick pumpkins and learn about agriculture,” Jody said. “Since the pumpkin patch is usually beside a cotton field, we tell them about both. It is a great opportunity. “We also give a lot of our pumpkins to schools and churches for special events and as decorations. It is such a fun thing. I have always loved the fall of the year and bright orange pumpkins.” In the fall, Jody volunteers at a local agritourism business called Fiddlin’ Rooster Farms near Water Valley. “At Fiddlin’ Rooster, I started out teaching kids about cotton. Now, I teach them about the dairy industry and how to make butter from cream,” she said. “Fiddlin’ Rooster is a fun experience, but you also learn. There are a variety of stations that teach you about Mississippi’s different commodities. I love teaching kids about agriculture and where their food and fiber come from.” 10

Volunteer Leaders Coley and Jody became Farm Bureau volunteer leaders soon after they were married. “Farm Bureau is such an effective voice for all commodities, we knew that we needed to lend our support,” she said. “Coley and I believe strongly in Farm Bureau.” Jody has served as a county women’s chair for 10 years. She is finishing up her third year as a regional women’s chair for Region 4. She and Coley also served on the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) State Committee, which he chaired for one year. In addition, Jody and Coley were named State YF&R Achievement Award winners for 2001 and placed third in national competition. “The Young Farmers & Ranchers Program is very I love teaching kids important,” she said. “It about agriculture and helps train agriculture’s future leaders. I also love the where their food and Women’s Program. In everything that we do in the fiber come from.” Women’s Program, we are helping to get agriculture’s message out to the consuming public. “With farmers’ numbers declining, we must generate support for them,” she said. “If you think that just kids are generations removed from farm life, you will be surprised to learn that a lot of parents don’t know anything about farming either. With Ag in the Classroom, we are teaching school children, who, hopefully, will go home and teach their parents.” “I would encourage anyone who wants to get involved to go to their county Farm Bureau office and ask about the Young Farmers & Ranchers and Women’s programs.” In conclusion, Jody noted that she plans to work with Farm Bureau



for as long as she and her husband farm. “As farmers, we can’t afford to have other people making policy decisions that will affect our operation without our input.” Other Activities In addition to her work with Farm Bureau, Jody serves as president of the PTO at her children’s school. She is a founding member of the Coffeeville Women’s League and is one of its past presidents. She is also a former Girl Scout leader. (The photo above is of her troop making crafts in the pumpkin patch.) She works part-time at Coffeeville United Methodist Church. Coley has twice served on the state Farm Bureau board of directors. Jody and Coley serve on the Yalobusha County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and he is county president. He has also served as chair of the state cotton advisory committee. Coley serves on the county FSA committee and the National Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors. He is president of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Association and is a delegate to the National Cotton Council.


Jody talks about cotton at a recent Ag in the Classroom workshop in Grenada.



k c a J e u l B Ridge Ranch Photos compliments of BlueJack Ridge Ranch.



By Glynda Phillips


Calling all cowpokes! Each fall, Darrin and Kristi Harris offer a Kids Ranch on their BlueJack Ridge Ranch near Poplarville. For the price of a ticket, children up to the age of 12 can enjoy a wide range of western-related activities. Here you will find an Old West Town that boasts an old-timey saloon, general store, jail and schoolhouse. You can amble down Main Street and check it out, or you can soak up the atmosphere while taking a ride around the property on a neat little wagon train “Kids really love this,” Darrin said. “Just watching their excitement makes all of it worthwhile.” In addition to the western town, you can


visit a teepee town, make your way through a seven-acre maze, visit a pumpkin patch and enjoy a petting zoo. You can watch pig races and duck races and play on a large playground with a giant slide, sandbox and corn pool. You can rope a steer and ride ponies. Tiny tots can ride the lasso loop that swings them around and around. And, if all that isn’t enough … there’s gold in them there hills! Yep, you can look for “gold” and “arrowheads” in a field. You will be awarded a ticket for what you find, and you can redeem the ticket for a prize at the general store. When you’re hungry, there’s a concession stand and a shaded picnic area.



Agritourism is Fun “Agritourism is a lot of work, but it is also a fun way to generate extra income from your farm or land,” Kristi said. “Darrin and I hope to set an example for others who want to do something similar. We hire some full-time and up to 40 part-time workers during the season and use more than 25 local businesses for everything from t-shirts to building materials. We hope to benefit our community even more in the future. “All of us involved in the agritourism industry in Mississippi share our ideas with each other,” she added. “We do not compete. We feel that one person’s success benefits us all.” In fact, Kristi has recently developed an agritourism consulting business that she hopes to grow throughout the state as well as the nation. “This will allow us to share our successes as well as our challenges with other entrepreneurs like ourselves,” she said. Darrin and Kristi say they have met a lot of great people, who have proven to be inspirational to them. Most of their visitors are from south Louisiana as well as Hattiesburg, Wiggins and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “Kids and parents enjoy coming up for a day in the country, and they seem to really enjoy these beautiful rolling hills,” said Darrin, who points out that the business is located on a 400-acre cattle ranch, where the Harris family now raises beef cattle and quarter horses. Their children compete in rodeo activities. Loblolly and longleaf pines surround the ranch, and Darrin is busy working to enhance the longleaf pine ecosystem so that critters like the gopher tortoise will flourish. You will also find hardwood trees. Matter of fact, the ranch is named for a hardwood tree, the BlueJack scrub oak. Future plans at BlueJack Ridge Ranch include a zip line, nature trail, fishing and a farmers market. Darrin and Kristi hope to one day sell grass-fed beef. 14

Get Your Ticket Online BlueJack Ridge Ranch will operate a little differently this year. “You must purchase your ticket online prior to your visit,” Kristi said. “The ranch will be open for fall activities during the entire month of October and the first weekend in November. “By having our customers buy their tickets online, we hope to keep the crowds down to a more manageable level this year so we can offer folks a more personal experience,” she said. Tickets during the fall season will be a one-price-does-all for $20 per person. There are weight restrictions on some activities, but the ranch is designed to keep you entertained for several hours. BlueJack Ridge Ranch also offers a 2-bedroom, 2-bath bed-andbreakfast facility with a full kitchen, located above the old-timey saloon, but only in the off-season, when the Kids Ranch is officially shut down. Year round, they host a variety of events, such as weddings, birthdays, scouting expeditions and much more. They invite you to BlueJack Ridge, a place in the country that you can enjoy without having to own one. For more information, call (601) 795-9949 or visit the Web site at



What is Agritourism? Agritourism is defined by the Mississippi Agritourism Association as a business on a working farm or other agricultural enterprise that offers an educational and fun experience for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner. Something for Everyone Mississippi offers many interesting and often unique agritourism opportunities across the state, from the North Mississippi hills to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. These businesses include U-pick gardens, farm arts and crafts, seasonal festivals, farm tours, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and Christmas trees, just to name a few. Changing Agriculture Today’s family farmers must meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global agriculture, even as Americans grow generations removed from farm life. To offset the loss of traditional farm income while telling agriculture’s story to the consuming public, Mississippi farm-


ers are looking at new and different ways of using their farms and land. Many are opening agritourism endeavors. To Learn More To learn more about the Mississippi Agritourism Industry, visit the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce Web site at or the Mississippi Agritourism Association Web site at To learn more about agritourism and other ways you can use your land to generate income, contact Daryl Jones, Mississippi State University, at or (662) 325-3133 or Adam Rohnke at (601) 857-2284. If you have land use questions, please contact Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Land Program Coordinator Doug Ervin at (601) 624-1705 or (601) 977-4230. The information in this article is courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi Agritourism Association and Mississippi State University.



ARD’S DAIRY By Glynda Phillips

Do you know where milk and other dairy products come from? If you don’t, you are not alone. A growing number of consumers think that food just magically appears on grocery store shelves. And while you can definitely purchase milk, yogurt, butter and cheese from your local grocer, it all begins with a cow. Dairy cows are milked twice a day on a dairy farm, and the milk is stored in refrigerated storage tanks. It is transported from the farm in refrigerated tank trucks to processing facilities, where it is bottled or made into the delicious and nutritious dairy products you enjoy. “It is surprising how far removed from agriculture most people have become, even kids who live in the country,” said Julie Ard-James. “Statistics reflect that the average American consumer is now three generations removed from farm life.” Julie and her mom and dad, Pat and Bonnie Ard, are determined to do their part to change all of that. A little over a year ago, the family decided to open their Ard’s Dairy to the public as an agritourism operation. The dairy is located near Ruth in Lincoln County. “I had a child actually tell me that he thought that milk came from a school cafeteria,” Julie said. “Imagine that. I knew at that moment that we were on the right track with this.”

Photos compliments of Ard’s Dairy.

Working Dairy Ard’s Dairy is a genuine working dairy, where Pat milks 180 Holsteins twice a day. The dairy was begun by his parents in the 1940s with Jersey cows. The land has been in the Ard family since 1893. The agritourism operation offers fall activities during the month of October, but it is open to the public, by appointment only, year round. “We do a guided tour, and we like to have a group. So that’s why you must make an appointment first,” Julie said. Visitors can bottle feed the calves and actually see cows being milked. Two large wagons take you around the farm. Visitors can also visit a petting zoo with chickens, goats and lambs. In October, Ard’s Dairy offers a playground with sandboxes and slides. You will find a picnic area and restrooms. The dairy also offers a 10-acre corn maze in the fall. The Ards plan to add a zip line in the near future. Growing Industry “Agritourism is the fastest-growing segment of tourism in the state and a good way to teach kids about agriculture,” Julie said. “It is also a great way to add income to your farm or land and a wonderful way to give something back to your community.” Julie and her parents decided to open their own agritourism operation after visiting Mitchell Farms in Collins in November 2010. “We were amazed at all that they have to offer,” Julie said. “Jo Lynn Mitchell, who is a good friend, encouraged us to do something similar with our own farm. We decided that we wanted to offer an educational experience on a real working dairy farm.” The Ards talked with their local Extension director Rebecca Bates and with Stanley Wise, an Extension director in Union County and president of the Mississippi Agritourism Association. Wise is an expert at teaching farmers how to cut their own mazes. The Ards’ first corn maze was designed in the shape of their logo, which is a cow jumping over the moon. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

In October alone last year, the Ards played host to some 1,300 visitors. “This year, I want 3,000,” Julie said. “I can’t wait.” And that brings up an important point. The Ards enjoy working with the public. “You must enjoy working with people to do this,” Julie said. “And you must not mind having visitors on your farm.” More Information In addition to the dairy tour, the Ards offer a three-bedroom, two-bath farmhouse for rent if you want to spend a weekend out in the country. The house is also available for company cookouts. A nearby pond gives you an opportunity to fish for catfish, bass or perch. You will also find a hammock and a place to build a bonfire. Ard’s Dairy has a Web site and Facebook page. Please visit these sites to learn about upcoming events. You may also call Julie at (601) 606-8418.



Swan Creek Farms Waterfowl Park ammaw Bessie probably never guessed that her backyard menagerie of birds and animals would one day inspire the creation of a successful 32-acre agritourism operation. But her children and grandchildren inherited her love of critters and have worked very hard to carry on her wonderful legacy. Like his grandmother, Chris Thurman enjoys collecting and caring for animals. Chris decided to share his collection with others and, along with his mother Joy and father Dennie, opened Swan Creek Farms and Waterfowl Park on Lawrence County farmland that has been in the family since the 1940s.

By Glynda Phillips


Swan Creek Farms “When my father passed away and my mother became ill, she moved in with us. Her critters and their cages moved down along our driveway,” said Joy. “Chris helped care for the animals, and we still have critters in pens along our drive in loving 18



Photos were taken by Swan Creek Farms and Waterfowl Park and Glynda Phillips.

memory of my mother, who passed away at the age of 90. “The waterfowl and peafowl park was already here and consisted of a few birds and about 15 small ponds fed by one artesian well,” she said. “Today, we offer all types of ducks, geese, swans, pheasants and peacocks, because we are always adding to our collection. We sell exotic birds across the state and nation.” At Swan Creek Farms and Waterfowl Park, you will find a USDA-registered petting zoo that includes both common and exotic animals, a diverse and exotic waterfowl and peafowl park, a 150-foot zip line, pony rides, hay rides, cart rides, a play area, picnic area, concession stand, fall pumpkin patch, hay maze, hay pyramid, slides and much, much more. Since Chris owns Thurman Landscaping and is very busy, his mother and father pinchhit until he is free to work in the park on the weekends. “My husband feeds the animals, and I book the people who want to use our facilities,” Joy said. “Our visitors range from senior adults to school kids, from church groups to scouts. We were proud to have Stanley Wise, president of the Mississippi Agritourism Association, visit us recently. Stanley said he thought that our agritourism operation was one of the most unique in Mississippi. He said he bet that we didn’t even realize what we had. We were very excited to hear him say that.” SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

Mobile Zoo The spring and the fall are especially busy times of the year, but Swan Creek Farms welcomes people year round. The operation is open on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday afternoons, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment during the week. The cost of a ticket is $7. Swan Creek Farms offers special events each year like Santa and Mrs. Santa Claus at Christmas, the Easter Bunny at Easter, and a pumpkin patch in the fall. The business caters birthday parties, wiener roasts, scout meetings, anniversaries, reunions, political meet and greets, garden clubs, church



But, in many respects, it is also our ministry. We feel very strongly about taking good care of God’s creatures, and we try to teach people to care for and respect them.

groups and everything in between. The pumpkin patch, the biggest event of the year, opens Sept. 29. Swan Creek also offers a mobile petting zoo that travels to Sunday schools, vacation Bible schools, birthday parties, promotions for new businesses and so forth. “This is such a fun job,” Joy said. “But, in many respects, it is also our ministry. We feel very strongly about taking good care of God’s creatures, and we try to teach people to care for and respect them. This is also our way of teaching people to appreciate agriculture and rural life. So many people live in urban areas today and are generations removed from farm life.” Future plans for Swan Creek Farms and Waterfowl Park include a bird aviary and a 5-acre safari park. For more information, call (601) 587-7114 or (601) 310-8592 or visit the Web site at Swan Creek Farms is located four miles southeast of Monticello.



Mitchell Farms Jo Lynn Mitchell had done her research when she first expressed a desire to add a pumpkin patch to the family farm in Collins. “It took me two years to convince my family that this would work, but I had done my research, and I knew we could be successful,” she told a crowd of 88 at a natural resource enterprises workshop held June 26 in Jackson. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) helped sponsor the workshop, which was presented by the Natural Resource Enterprises Program at Mississippi State University. The program was held at the MFBF Building in Jackson. Mitchell’s family grows peanuts, blueberries, corn, peaches, wheat and soybeans on the 50-year-old farm. In 2006, the family opened the pumpkin patch, which offers wagon rides, group tours for children and adults, a corn maze, farm animals and a play area. They also offer their venue for weddings and other events. “The pumpkin patch has been a huge success,” Mitchell said. “We well exceeded our expected numbers the first year, and we have


been growing each year since.” She said the farm’s Web site has contributed to the success of the family’s agritourism venture. “Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement, but the Web site is the second-best form of advertising. We had visitors from Norway one year. They were visiting Texas, saw our Web site and decided to come over to Mississippi to see us while they were here,” Mitchell said. Besides diversifying the farm’s enterprises, the pumpkin patch is providing an educational


opportunity for kids and adults. “We have kids come who don’t have any idea what a farm is all about,” Mitchell said. “When we ask the kids where corn comes from, they say the store. We live in a rural community, and it is amazing that kids don’t understand where their food comes from. So we feel like this endeavor is significant on many levels. “We enjoy sharing our farm with people and connecting with them through agriculture,” Mitchell said. “It’s what our family has done for 50 years.”

This information is from an article by Susan Collins-Smith, Mississippi State University Office of Ag Communications, covering the natural resource enterprises workshop. For more information, contact Daryl Jones at Mississippi State University at or (662) 325-3133 or Adam Rohnke at (601) 857-2284. If you have land use questions, you may also contact Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Land Program Coordinator Doug Ervin at (601) 6241705 or (601) 977-4230.


Solve the



Mayor Dave Nichols

Which town is the seat of government for Lawrence County? Read the clues and make your guess.

A Little History Our mystery town was settled in 1812 and is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. This town is the thirdoldest incorporated municipality (tied with Woodville) in the state. Natchez is the oldest, followed by Liberty. The Pearl River and abundant pine trees brought people to the area back in those long ago days. Back then, the river played host to lots of paddleboats, including stern wheelers, keel boats and packets (which brought both passengers and freight). Huge lumber mills were built. The railroad came through, and timber and row crops were shipped down the river and by rail. The town was also located along two historic trade routes, Kings Highway, which stretched from Brunswick, Georgia, to Mexico City, and St. Stephens Road, which spanned from Natchez to Mobile. A turn-of-the-century tornado leveled the town, but many historic structures remain, including the courthouse, which was built in the early 1900s; the Lawrence County Regional Center and Museum, located in a beautiful old school built in the late 1800s; Gov. Andrew Longino’s house, dating back to the turn of the century; and Fox Plantation, dating back to the 1840s. Town Today Today, our mystery town numbers about 1,700 residents. A mixture of folks live here, including young families and retirees, people who are new to the area and people who are descendants of the original families. “We are Americana at its best. We are a small town where everybody knows everybody else. We have a strong community spirit, and we work together to get things done,” said Mayor SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

Dave Nichols. Cooper’s Ferry Park was built 100 percent with volunteer labor and includes a Tree Top Trail, old-timey water wheel, butterfly garden, walking trail and a gazebo that overlooks the Pearl River. “We are also home to a large sports complex for soccer and baseball,” said Mayor Nichols. “Many walking trails are scattered around town. “We have a good mix of industry and retail,” he added. “We have thriving businesses downtown, including a feed and seed store, florist, pharmacy and jewelry store. Many of these businesses have been handed down from one generation to the next. We are home to three Dollar stores.” Timber remains a big industry. Georgia Pacific is located near our mystery town. You will also find a tie and timber company that bears the town’s name. The headquarters for Miles and Son is located at Silver Creek. Other industry includes Atlas Manufacturing. Row crops are important, with area farmers growing primarily corn and soybeans. You will also find one peanut operation. Our mystery town is home to the Lawrence County Hospital, a division of Southwest Health Systems, and to a prominent sleep disorder clinic as well as lots of doctors, dentists and physical therapists. This town boasts an excellent school system with an award-winning athletic program. Natural resources include Atwood Water Park, Lake Mary Crawford, and the Pearl River (with air boat rides and fishing opportunities). Just north of town, a bald eagle’s nest was found and photographed on the Pearl River. Swan Creek Farms and Waterfowl Park is located near our mystery town. Famous people who were either born here or owned property here include three governors, Longino, Runnels and Lynch; Stephen Douglas of the Lincoln/Douglas Debates; Secretary of Banking Hiram Runnels; J.B. Lenore and Byther Smith, influential blues musicians; former Secretary of Education Rod Paige; and Eric Dampeer and Al Jefferson, outstanding NBA athletes. Special Events The annual Atwood Music Festival, held at Atwood Water Park, brings in big-name country music stars, as well as 7,000 to 10,000 visitors. Our mystery town also annually hosts A.B.A.T.E., the American Bikers Advancing Toward Education group, a lobby on behalf of motorcycles. Members from all over the state meet at the waterpark and bring in entertainment and a bike show. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

This year, the town is hosting the Teen Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) Academy, where teenagers from around the state are certified in woodlands search and rescue. In Conclusion “We are a close and caring town with citizens who work together to get things done,” said Mayor Nichols. “I’d like to see us grow a little in the future, but I don’t want to become a big city or lose our small-town charm. “I invite you to visit us. We think you will enjoy our town.” Name this town. Correct Guesses Mail guesses to Solve the Mystery, Mississippi Farm Country, P. O. Box 1972, Jackson, MS 39215. You may also email your guesses to 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 September 30. July/August The correct answer for the July/August Solve the Mystery is Tylertown.




Another Den of Thieves By Sam E. Scott, MFBF General Counsel


Southerners are often said to live in the past. Faulkner once wrote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”1 However, we learn from the past, both mistakes and achievements, and it seems that as one gets into his or her later years, nostalgia seems more prevalent. Many things about the “good old days” were not good compared to today, yet some seem much better. Take crime, for example. Growing up, we did not have air conditioning and kept cool, or tried to, with fans of one kind or another – electric fans which rotated, ceiling fans, attic fans and handheld fans in church, often provided by funeral homes. Our windows and doors were open day and night to get all the breeze that was usually not there. Our front screen door was held shut by a simple hook and eye latch, but there was no need for concern since breaking and entering was practically nonexistent. Some never locked their houses, even when gone, as well as car keys always being in the car or pickup. That time is gone, but so is the time when polio was a real threat and we knew about those living in an iron lung. We took all sorts of “shots” for diphtheria, tetanus, etc. But the notion of children not being safe walking or biking to and from school, or girls going safely across a college campus at night were ideas whose time had not come. Violent crime is now common, if not rampant. There is another newer crime that is not violent in its perpetration, though its results may be – identity theft. These thieves are intelligent, as well as greedy and computer experts, especially with respect to how we use our credit and pay our bills in this electronic age. Filing false tax returns with your identity for getting your refund, obtaining credit card numbers when you buy gasoline, stealing your bank account number, these are now sadly common and growing at a record rate.The IRS announced recently that it had paid over $5 billion to identity thieves for falsely filed 2011 tax returns.


Your Farm Bureau is concerned about this invidious theft, which is no different from someone breaking into your home or business and looting it. We are carefully considering a new member benefit that would provide identity theft credit restoration assistance – at no charge to county Farm Bureau members. The program will work like this: Identity theft credit assistance will be provided to Farm Bureau member families at no cost to them. When a family member believes they have been a victim of identity theft, there will be a toll-free number to call to report and verify the circumstances of the ID theft. Once a determination has been made that a member’s identity has been stolen, an expert will work on the family member’s behalf to help restore their credit to preidentity theft status. The program does not provide indemnity for any monetary losses incurred as a result of identity theft, and it is not identity theft prevention protection, an insurance product or credit monitoring. It provides toplevel, personalized, fully-managed identity theft credit restoration assistance, freeing the victim from the majority of time-consuming work involved in restoring their credit and offering peace of mind and a solution in a time of crisis. More details will follow soon. We expect this will become available before the end of the year. Stay tuned for more news about this 21st century idea to combat an age-old crime – theft. It may also recall a time when help was available from friends, family and neighbors when needed, without the cost of an arm or leg. If not careful, I will lapse into telling about Mammaw telling me stories on the front porch swing, Granddad’s sleeping porch and Sunday afternoon watermelon cutting in those good old days! 1

Requiem for a Nun

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.



2012 County Annual Meetings Adams County Farm Bureau Thursday, Nov. 8, at 9 a.m. Farm Bureau Office Natchez

Hinds County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 24, at 1 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Raymond

Monroe County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Aberdeen

Alcorn County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6:30 p.m. Alcorn County Extension Office Corinth Meal will be provided. Bring your favorite dessert.

Itawamba County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6:30 p.m. Jamie Whitten Center Fulton Members are asked to bring a covered dish.

Montgomery County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 6:30 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Winona

Attala County Farm Bureau Thursday, Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m. County Extension Office Kosciusko Ag Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith will be the guest speaker.

Jackson County Farm Bureau Saturday, Sept. 29, at 4 p.m. East Central Community Center Hwy. 614 Hurley

Chickasaw County Farm Bureau Thursday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Houston Choctaw County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m. Choctaw County Community Center Ackerman Claiborne County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 20, at 12:30 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Port Gibson Copiah County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Hazlehurst Forrest County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. County Multipurpose Center Hattiesburg George County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Lucedale Hancock County Farm Bureau Saturday, Sept. 29, from 4-6 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Kiln Harrison County Farm Bureau Saturday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. BelAire Elementary School Gulfport


Jeff Davis County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Prentiss Jones County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Laurel Refreshments will be served Kemper County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m. County Farmer’s Market Building DeKalb Lamar County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. Okahola School Road Voting Precinct Purvis Lauderdale County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Meridian Lincoln County Farm Bureau Monday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Brookhaven Madison County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. Farm Bureau Office Canton Marion County Farm Bureau Thursday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. Columbia Exposition Center 150 Industrial Park Road Columbia

Neshoba County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 p.m. Neshoba County Coliseum Philadelphia Newton County Farm Bureau Thursday, Oct. 18, at 6:30 p.m. Coastal Plain Experiment Station 51 Coastal Plain Road Newton Noxubee County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. Noxubee County Civic Center Macon Oktibbeha County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. MAFES Conference Center Mississippi State University Starkville Panola County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m. Panola County Extension Building Batesville BBQ tickets are $5 each and must be purchased by Sept. 7. Call (662)563-5688 for more info. Guest speaker is Andy Prosser. Pontotoc County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. Pontotoc Community House Pontotoc Please bring a covered dish. Meat, bread and drinks will be provided. Rankin County Farm Bureau Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Brandon Refreshments will be served. Scott County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m. Roosevelt State Park (Alfreda Lodge) Morton Tickets are $4 and must be purchased by Sept. 17 at the Forest or Morton Farm Bureau offices.


Simpson County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. County Jr. Livestock Building Hwy. 49 South Mendenhall Smith County Farm Bureau Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Raleigh Sunflower County Farm Bureau Friday, Oct. 12, at Noon County Farm Bureau Office Indianola Tallahatchie County Farm Bureau Thursday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Charleston Tippah County Farm Bureau Monday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. County Fairgrounds Ripley Ladies are asked to please bring a dessert. Tishomingo County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. County High School Cafeteria Iuka Washington County Farm Bureau Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Noon County Farm Bureau Office Greenville Wayne County Farm Bureau Thursday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m. Farm Bureau Office Waynesboro Winston County Farm Bureau Thursday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. Shrine Club Hwy 15 South Louisville Yazoo County Farm Bureau Thursday, Nov. 15, at 10 a.m. Farm Bureau Office Yazoo City



That Comes with My Farm Bureau Membership – Really? By Greg Gibson, MFBF Member Services Director

I have people every week tell me that they didn’t know that being a member of Farm Bureau allowed them to get discounts on so many products and services. Well, it’s true! There is a whole list of companies that have partnered with Farm Bureau to offer members discounts or additional items at no charge just so they can promote their products or services to Farm Bureau members. And who gets the benefit? You do! Car Rental Discounts Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo and National have all set up programs to offer Farm Bureau members discounts when you need to rent a car. These discounts vary from company to company, and they also depend on the location, type of car rented, length of rental and rental location. To find out how much of a discount you can receive on your particular rental, you will need the Farm Bureau Discount Number and the special 800 number for each company. These can be obtained by calling your county Farm Bureau office and verifying your current membership status. ATV Deal As all of you hunters know, it’s about time to be out in the woods, and what better way to get out there than on an ATV. Got Gear Motor Sports in Ridgeland is offering Farm Bureau members free installation of a winch (cost of winch not included) with the purchase of any ATV. What better way to haul in that trophy kill or get yourself out of a mudhole that was deeper than it looked than by using a winch. The free installation is a $125 value and is being provided by Got Gear to all Farm Bureau members. Medical Alert System Nothing can be more frightening to a senior citizen or someone with medical or physical challenges than to fall and not be able to get up when they are alone. To help give these people and their families peace of mind, Farm Bureau has teamed up with Southern Security Services to provide this two-way communication system to our members at a discounted price. The medical alert system 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. Activating the transmitter causes the console's built-in digital communicator to send the appropriate alarm report to the central monitoring station. Personnel at the monitoring station can then speak directly with the person needing assistance and send help. The quarterly charge for Farm Bureau members is $80.25. There is no equipment to buy, no minimum contract, no deposit and no installation fee. For more information on these or any of the many other member benefits, call your county Farm Bureau office or visit 26



By Glynda Phillips



illiam Faulkner sits on a park bench in downtown Oxford. With his pipe in hand, he seems to beckon to passersby to stop and chat. As people rush by, tending to the many details of their busy lives, something wonderful often happens. Someone actually does stop for a while. It is nice to know that a literary native son remains a vital part of the downtown scene. But it is also great to know that a beautiful piece of art like this can be easily accessed by anyone who visits or works in Oxford. Art is wonderful to view and can generate conversation. But it also makes us slow down and pay closer attention to something that transcends the ordinary grind of daily life. Mississippi Artist Like his well-known Faulkner bronze, Mississippi sculptor William N. “Bill” Beckwith’s other work is equally inspiring. When you step inside his small, cluttered studio next door to Taylor Grocery in downtown Taylor, you find yourself surrounded by famous Mississippians, from Elvis Presley and B. B. King to Chucky Mullins and L.Q.C. Lamar, just to name a few. These pieces are actually the plaster “artist’s proofs” from the clay models that were used to make the molds for the bronzes that grace parks, homes, businesses and galleries across the state and nation. Whether you are interested in art or are just a history buff, you can easily spend hours examining these pieces, for they engender feelings of awe and appreciation. Here is why. Bill carries on the tradition of an impressive bloodline of sculptors that stretches back to the masters of Paris. He apprenticed to Greenville sculptor Leon Koury, who apprenticed to Malvina Hoffman of New York City, who apprenticed to Auguste Rodin of Paris. The thing about Bill is that he did not leave his home state for the larger cities up North or out West, where more opportunities surely 28


beckoned. He stuck close to home, and his passion for Mississippi is evident in the work that he produces. “I have spent my life in this state, for better or worse,” he said. “To survive out of a sculpture studio here is something that has been amazing. I keep thinking I will wake up at any moment. Sometimes, I ask myself, ‘How did I do this? How did this work?’ ” Bill has received numerous awards and honors through the years and was included in the gaggle of artists in the Village of Taylor to be awarded the Mississippi Governor’s Award of Excellence. The sculpture of Faulkner might be one of his best-known pieces, but Bill has created many more of note. Portrait busts of Richard Wright, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams can be found at Bryan Reading Park in West Point. B.B. King stands with his guitar Lucille at B.B. King Park in Indianola. Jefferson Davis is at home at Beauvoir in Biloxi and Chickasaw Chief Piomingo stands at Fair Park in Tupelo. A bust of U.S. Congressman Jamie Whitten is on display at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Charleston. Bill’s monument to the Flagbearer of the Mississippi 11th was the last piece to be added to the Gettysburg Military Park in Gettysburg, PA. Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog are at home in the William A. Percy Library in Greenville. The Fountain of Youth is on display at the Methodist Rehabilitation Center hospital in Jackson. Herman



Melville can be found at his birthplace in New York City. Bill’s most recent life-size bronze of Elvis Presley was unveiled at Fair Park in downtown Tupelo on August 9 in recognition of the 35th anniversary of The King’s death. His next commission is to commemorate Coach Margaret Wade, who led the women’s basketball team at Delta State University to three national championships. Over and Over Bill knew from an early age how he would spend his life. He was 14 when he visited Koury’s studio and became instantly mesmerized. He began apprenticing to the artist, helping him make molds and clean up, while Koury began teaching him how to sculpt. “I had always had an interest in drawing and had excellent instruction from Mr. Bob Tompkins at Greenville High, but I had never considered sculpting. Koury gave me a goal and a purpose in life. He took up a lot of time with me and my friends and tried to keep us out of trouble,” he said. “He introduced us to fine art, music and literature, just as William Alexander Percy had done for him. “A lot of the information and knowledge Leon introduced did not sink in for a long time,” Bill added. “But we all think we know everything in the beginning. What is the saying? ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.’ As we gain age and experience, we realize just how little we really did know. “One of the most important lessons any artist should heed is that excellence comes from practice and repetition,” he explained. “That is a commitment few people seem willing to make anymore. Getting to the next level of artistic excellence and discovery requires patience. The apprentice system is an excellent system.” Bill earned an M.F.A. in sculpture at the University of Mississippi under the direction of Charles Gross. He owned and operated Vulcan Studios & Foundry, Mississippi’s first commercial fine arts bronze foundry, in Greenville, Greenwood and Taylor, from 1976-1986. While casting for other sculptors, he continued to produce gallery work and commissions, as well as show his bronzes in numerous oneman and group shows across the nation. In addition to his sculpting, he has taught in the art department at the University of Mississippi for many years. He says that this is a joy. “It is very uplifting to teach,” he said. “I hope I have things to say and knowledge to share. Each semester is an adventure!” SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

New Studio Bill is building a 10,000-square-foot studio at Taylor. “The metal and woodshop areas are already in operation,” he said. “The front room will be a 2,500-square-foot modeling studio, where I hope to teach private classes. This room also has a large commercial kitchen. In my mind, the students and I will work while something wonderful is cooking. The modeling will only be something to keep us busy until the turkey is done. The starving artist stereotype has had a good run, but needs to be retired! ” Bill and his family will live in a loft apartment above the studio. Here are his final words to aspiring artists. “Keeping your Muse happy is a full-time obsession and has to be,” he said. “It must be your passion, your reward and escape. If you can lose yourself in your work … if you can think that only 20 minutes have passed when actually several hours have passed … then you are doing something right. After all, you have to do something until you die, and this makes as much sense as anything else!” For more information about Bill Beckwith and his work, visit his Web site at or call him at (662) 2340527. All photos, except for Bill and Elvis, are from Bill Beckwith’s Web site.



Bats Are Good for Agriculture

By Andrea Schuhmann and Shea Staten e have long been misinformed and unnecessarily frightened about bats, the world’s only flying mammals. Believe it or not, bats help farms and help people. Bats make up approximately one-quarter of the total number of mammals found globally. Wherever they are found, these tiny titans provide critical ecological services, some by pollinating valuable plants and crops, and others, which is of particular relevance to Mississippi, by preying upon countless insect pests that can wreak havoc on our home gardens, our forests and our farms. Before we can explain in depth why these winged wonders are so critical to Mississippi, it’s important to first correct a few myths that might cause us to think of bats as undesirable creatures.


1. Bats in Mississippi are not bloodsuckers. Bats native to our state are strictly insectivores, insect-eaters. Out of the nearly 1,200 different types of bats worldwide, only three feed on blood. These infamous vampire bats live in Central and South America, and they are so diminutive in size they could fit inside a tea cup. Vampire bats only lick a small amount of blood from the source but do not kill as a result. 2. Not all bats carry rabies. In fact, less than one-half of one percent of bats carry the virus. Rabid bats can sometimes appear more docile and approachable than typical, but there is no way to tell for sure. You can prevent transmission by simply not picking up, holding or handling bats. 3. Bats do not attack people or purposefully tangle themselves in human hair. Stray bats who have wandered into our homes often react to our panicked behavior by erratically flying about, searching for an exit. Now, let’s focus on why Mississippi farmers should care about the health and future of bats in our state and across the country. Mississippi is home to 15 different species of bats, all voracious insectivores. A recent study has shown that insect-eating bats are estimated to save the U.S. agricultural industry approximately $22.9 billion each year in pest control expenses. That means, farmers who support a healthy population of bats on their property may see fewer crops destroyed by insect pests, and their fields may require fewer applications of expensive pesticides. This, in turn, can result in the added benefit of fewer insect pests developing pesticide resistance. 30

If you have ever waged war against June beetles, spotted cucumber beetles, stinkbugs, corn earworm, armyworms, cutworms, tent caterpillars, cotton boll worms, gypsy moths and oak weevils, or if you are merely pestered by the ever-present mosquito, bats are your ally. The appetite of even the hungriest college linebacker pales in comparison to each tiny bat, the largest in Mississippi no bigger than a bar of soap. And if you want to cut down on insect pests, it’s the pregnant female bats you especially want to attract. They are the hungriest. A pregnant Brazilian free-tailed bat can eat 70 percent of her body mass in hundreds of insects every night. Unfortunately, North American bats are facing a grim future. Loss of mature hardwood and bottomland forests, destruction of riparian zones, inhumane exclusions from residences and vandalism/disturbance to resting sites have severely impacted bats. Not only has habitat loss resulted in dramatic declines of bat populations nationwide, but bats are now facing a new threat, a recently introduced disease known as White-Nose Syndrome or WNS. White Nose Syndrome, caused by the cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans, is suspected to have been introduced from Europe. WNS gets its name from the white fungal growth that appears on the wings, ears and muzzle of infected bats. The fungus attacks the bats while they are hibernating and causes them to awaken early from their energy-saving sleep. The infected bats quickly use up their valuable fat stores, far too early to survive the winter, and eventually they succumb to starvation, dehydration or death by exposure. Since first discovered in New York in 2006, the disease is estimated to have killed more than 6 million bats across the eastern U.S. and Canada, covering 19 states and still counting. More recently, the disease has been confirmed in Alabama. The Mississippi Bat Working Group (MBWG), a collective of bat enthusiasts and professionals from federal, state and private agencies, works with various stakeholders, who recognize and support the management and conservation of bats and their habitats. Things look discouraging for bats, but there are things you can do to help. 1. Protect snags and hollow trees on your property, especially while performing prescribed burns. Snags and hollow trees provide vital daytime resting sites for bats. 2. Protect and document known and potential roost/resting sites, such as abandoned buildings, cisterns, snags and hollow trees. You can report your findings to MBWG by emailing 3. If you have bats in your attic and want them removed, there are trained professionals who can assist in excluding them from the building without lethal means. 4. Provide for area bats, including those recently excluded from a home, by placing a bat house on your property. Many pre-made bat houses and plans are available through Bat Conservation International and other groups, or you can contact Shea Staten, MBWG’s Bat House Coordinator, at 5. Provide a source of water for bats (lake, pond, creek, river, etc.). Bats are a sign of a healthy riparian ecosystem. Protect creeks and streams on your property by leaving a buffer of trees and shrubs along the edges. 6. Plant native flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs. Not only will you be providing great food plants for native butterflies and birds, but there are several species that are especially beneficial to bats: phlox, fleabane, goldenrod, evening primrose, etc. These flowers tend to remain open in the evening, attracting moths that bats feed on. 7. Support bat conservation at the local, regional and national level. An easy step is to become involved with the Mississippi Bat Working Group. Bats have long supported us by protecting our homes and our farms. It is now imperative that we support them. If you want to learn more about what you can do to help bats in Mississippi, please contact the Mississippi Bat Working Group at Andrea Schuhmann is a wildlife biologist and Outreach Director for Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs. Shea Staten is a Natural Resource Specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Sardis Lake. The photo is of the Olive Branch Pack 234 Webelos with Becky Rosamond, MBWG president, holding an Eastern Red Bat. Scouts are Noah Womack, Spencer Rowan, Ethan Ratcliff, Charlie Williams and Tucker Bobbitt. Photo is by MBWG.



Farm Bureau Spotlight

Monroe County By Glynda Phillips

The volunteer leaders and staff of Monroe County Farm Bureau believe strongly in Farm Bureau’s role as The Voice of Agriculture℠. They work hard to support the organization’s programs on both the county and state levels. “We are involved in local events, and we make a point of participating in state Farm Bureau activities,” said Monroe County Farm Bureau President Herbert Word. “We have visited Washington D.C. many times to meet with our congressional delegation. We use a rotation system to determine who goes. We also send four or five of our volunteer leaders to the annual Ag Day at the Capitol, where we visit with our legislators. The county president or vice president always attends the annual State Resolutions Meeting.” Monroe County worked hard during the eminent domain reform campaign, collecting 2843 petition signatures, of which 2417 were certified. For its dedicated efforts on behalf of Farm Bureau and Mississippi agriculture, Monroe County Farm Bureau was named Outstanding County in Region 4 for 2011.

Teaching Agriculture Agriculture is an important industry in Monroe County, with almost all ag commodities represented. Both the Aberdeen and Amory offices are noted for their creative and eye-catching commodity displays. Each month, a different commodity is spotlighted through colorful exhibits and handouts. One time, the Amory office hatched chicks to the delight of young and old. Another time, they potted 269 cups of tomato plants to hand out, a popular event. As a part of these commodity displays, chances are sold on products like an Edam cheese ball to raise funds for different programs. This year, funds will be donated to the Farm Families of Mississippi campaign. “Our customers love the commodity displays,” Herbert said. “Marianne Butler and Sandra Perkins, our secretaries in Aberdeen, do a fantastic job of putting them together. Marianne does the research for each commodity and makes contacts with national groups to get resource materials for us to display and hand out. These women are very creative.” Monroe County Farm Bureau has a very active Women’s Program, which works hard to teach school children about agriculture. “We take Ag in the Classroom (AITC) materials and present AITC programs in every school in our area,” said Nita Jackson, women’s chair. Joanie Word is women’s vice chair. “We also carry the Learning Barn into every school. Teachers can come check it out on an as-needed basis. We hold safety programs at the local schools, which are presented by safety experts from the state office.” The Young Farmers & Ranchers Program is a strong and active program, with Hank Harrington serving as the young farmer representative on the county board. Finally, Monroe County Farm Bureau volunteer leaders make a point of exchanging ideas with other county Farm Bureaus, both in Mississippi and in other states, to surface innovative ideas that can be used to promote Farm Bureau and agriculture. “We feel that we were instrumental in getting the county Farm Bureau office monitor program started,” Herbert said. “We had already approved 32

Pictured, from left, are Herbert Word, Joanie Word, Sharon Odom, Nita Jackson, Rita Sargent and Tom Seymer.

buying TV sets for both of our offices, and I asked the media department at the state office to put together something we could run about Farm Bureau and our member benefits package. “We believe that my asking that type of question got the ball rolling,” he said. “Other counties began expressing an interest in doing something similar in their offices.” In conclusion, Herbert says Farm Bureau does a great job of representing state farmers. “I am a farmer, and I am glad to be able to do my part and be a part of the Farm Bureau family,” he said. “To us, farming is an everyday thing, but other people are fascinated by it. As farm numbers continue to decline, people will grow further and further away from farms. We must promote our way of life and our livelihood the best way we know how. People take for granted that they will have an abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber. We must remind them that our farmers produce it.” Some History Monroe County Farm Bureau was chartered in April 1925. One of its first board members was T. L. Word Sr., Herbert’s grandfather. French Early was one of the county’s longest-serving presidents, serving 25 years. Today, the Monroe County Farm Bureau membership totals 4,072, and the county reached its 2011 quota. Also of significance, Tom Seymer, who started out with the county in 1970 as an agent and began serving as an agency manager in 1975, still serves as agency manager today. Monroe County Farm Bureau still occupies its original building in Aberdeen and has a satellite office in Amory. Employees in the Aberdeen office are Sandra Perkins, secretary; Marianne Butler, secretary; Bradley Burroughs, insurance agent; Patricia Howell, insurance agent; and Chris Wright, insurance agent. Eric Smith is the adjuster. Staff in the Amory office includes Sharon Odom, membership secretary; Rita Sargent, secretary; Tracey Cockerham, insurance agent; Brad Bennett, insurance agent; and Jay Gore, insurant agent. The adjuster is Anthony Berry. Tom Seymer is agency manager. Monroe County Farm Bureau board members include Herbert Word, president; Jerry Cantrell, vice president; Dennis Jackson, treasurer; Alan Atkins, secretary; Nita Jackson, women’s chair; Joanie Word, women’s vice chair; Hank Harrington, young farmer; Roy Doss, William Dean Atkins, Lem Holman, L.C. Sanders, Mark Foreman, Ben Harlow, Jimmy Cowley, Terry Beasley and Dennis Herndon. Regional Manager for Region 4 is Samantha Webb. Region 4 Women’s Chair is Jody Bailey of Yalobusha County. Betty Mills of Montgomery County serves as State Women’s Committee Chair.



Summer Intern Grant Staten of New Albany served a 6week summer internship with Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, spending time with each program and learning about the organization. Grant is a graduate of Mississippi State University (MSU) with a degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences and a minor in Agri-

cultural Business Management. He will be attending MSU as a graduate student this fall, working toward a master’s degree in Agribusiness Management. Students interested in the summer intern program should visit to download an application and instructions for applying.

Calendar of Events Rice Tasting Luncheon Sept. 21 Delta State University Cleveland

Women’s Ag Tour Oct. 4-5 North Mississippi

Mississippi State Fair Oct. 3-14 Jackson

Election Day Nov. 6

State Resolutions Meeting Nov. 8 MFBF Building Jackson

National Farm-City Week Nov. 16-22

MFBF Annual Meeting Dec. 1-3 Hilton Hotel Jackson

AFBF Annual Meeting Jan. 13-16 Nashville




2012 Gary Langley Memorial Clay Shoot By Kirsten Johnson MFBF YF&R Coordinator On June 30, the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) State Committee hosted the Gary Langley Memorial Clay Shoot at Turcotte Shooting Range in Canton. This yearly event is held in memory of Gary Langley, a previous YF&R State Committee member who lost his life in a tragic tractor accident. All of the proceeds from the event are donated to the YF&R Scholarship Foundation. This year, even though the temperature was very hot, the event enjoyed a great turnout. Nineteen four-man teams and two individuals competed for a variety of prizes. The course consists of 100 shots at

First-place team members included John Love, Frank Chenevert Jr., David Hobart and Colby Mason, not pictured.

12 different stations through the woods, creating a challenging and fun course. The committee would like to thank all of the sponsors, donors and participants for making the event a success. They would also like to extend a very special thank you to MFBF President Randy Knight, North MS Vice President Donald Gant, Central MS Vice President Ted Kendall IV and South MS Vice President Reggie Magee for their generous donation of a Remington 28 Gauge Clay Special Shotgun that was awarded to the top shooter of the day, John Love. For more information about the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation YF&R Program, call (601) 977-4277.

Second-place team members included Todd Dupre’, Tyler Carlton, John Dupre’ and Heath Slover.

Randy Knight, Donald Gant, Ted Kendall Reggie Magee – Top Shooter – Remington 28 Gauge Clay Special Shotgun Academy Sports & Outdoors – 1st Place Four Garmin Etrex Handheld GPS R&M Tractor & Supply and Kubota – 2nd Place – Four Motorola Talkabout 2-Way Radios Watson Quality Ford – 3rd Place Four $50 Visa Gift Cards

Crop Production Services Outlaw Sporting Goods Donald and Lil Gant Chris McLemore Chickasaw County Farm Bureau Adams County Farm Bureau Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. Terral Seed Inc. Bob Atkins, Madison County Farm Bureau Jimmy Sanders, Inc.

D & S Farms – David & Sandra Waide Ted Kendall

Academy Sports & Outdoors Cabot Lodge North


Station Sponsors

Door Prizes

Third-place team members included Macky Watkins, Tyler Huerkamp, Seth More and Joe Huerkamp.

Chick-Fil-A Deviney Equipment Grainger Hilton Jackson Newk’s Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. Sales Department Scrooge’s Surplus City Sweet Potato Sweets Zebra Marketing MFBF Training Program

National YF&R Contest Prizes The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to announce an exciting prize package from sponsors of the 2013 Young Farmers & Ranchers competitive events. The winner of the Achievement Award will get their choice of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or 2013 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, and a paid registration to the 2013 YF&R Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 8-11. Three national runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A, courtesy of Case IH, and a $2,500 cash price and STIHL Farm Boss, courtesy of STIHL. The Discussion Meet winner will get their choice of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or 2013 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, and a paid registration to the 2013 YF&R Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 8-11. Three national runners-up will receive a Case IH


Farmall 55A, courtesy of Case IH, and a $2,500 cash prize and STIHL Farm Boss, courtesy of STIHL. The winner of the Excellence in Agriculture Award will get their choice of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado or 2013 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, and a paid registration to the 2013 YF&R Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 8-11. Three national runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and a $2,500 cash prize and STIHL Farm Boss, courtesy of STIHL. The winners will be determined during AFBF’s 94th Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Jan. 13-16, 2013. For more information, call Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation YF&R Coordinator Kirsten Johnson at (601) 977-4277.



Farm Bureau Events

Approximately 200 teachers from across the state participated in Ag in the Classroom (AITC) workshops held this summer in Grenada, Jackson and Biloxi. The workshops, which are coordinated by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Program, give teachers ideas about how they can incorporate agriculture into their classroom activities.

Members of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors toured Mississippi State University research facilities during their May meeting in Starkville.

The 2012 summer commodity meetings enjoyed informative speakers, great attendance and an active participation in the policy development process. Pictured is the aquaculture meeting in Jackson.


State Coloring Contest winner and Region 7 winner is Brittany Walters of Perry County, a student at New Augusta Elementary School. She was presented a check and medal during the school’s Awards Day program on May 22.

Approximately 88 Mississippi landowners attended a land conference held at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Building in June. Farm Bureau helped sponsor the meeting, which featured presentations by a number of speakers, including experts from the Natural Resource Enterprises program at Mississippi State University. Topics included land use, agritourism and how to develop a business plan.



Youth Safety Seminar

Approximately 77 students from across the state attended the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Youth Safety Seminar at Timber Creek Camp in Pulaski. Youths participated in a variety of safety programs, including Certified CPR, ATV Safety, Fatal Vision – Drinking and Driving, Texting and Driving, Tractor Safety, Electrical Safety and First Aid, to name a few. In addition to the classes, they enjoyed fun activities, such as rock wall climbing, messy obstacle course, swimming, canoeing and a dance. A special thank you goes out to the county Farm Bureaus who sponsored a student to attend the camp. We would also like to extend a sincere thank you to the following sponsors who made donations or contributions to help make this camp one of the best ever: Academy Sports & Outdoors Royce Windham Tractor of Forest Amite County Farm Bureau Calhoun County Farm Bureau Chickasaw County Farm Bureau Choctaw County Farm Bureau

Coahoma County Farm Bureau Desoto County Farm Bureau Eva Nell Milton, Franklin County Jeff Davis County Farm Bureau Lauderdale County Farm Bureau Leake County Farm Bureau Madison County Farm Bureau Marshall County Farm Bureau Montgomery County Farm Bureau

Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. Claims Department Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. Sales Department Simpson County Farm Bureau Tishomingo County Farm Bureau Walthall County Farm Bureau Winston County Farm Bureau




Email Alert

MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum, Carroll County Farm Bureau Women's Chair Betty Taylor and Sue Hawkins, a sixth-grade teacher from Pearl, visited the Mississippi State University tent during the “33rd Mississippi in the Park” event held in June at Central Park in New York City.


We have recently been made aware that emails are circulating stating that the recipient has been awarded a “$1000 Visa Gift Card free of charge” from Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. This is not a legitimate communication from Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, and there is no such award program in place through Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. This communication has been reported to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office. As always, be very cautious when you receive unsolicited email of any type regarding or requesting financial information.



Mississippi Farm Country  
Mississippi Farm Country  

September/October 2012