By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith on Thursday challenged farmers from Northeast Mississippi to seize the opportunity of unprecedented worldwide demand for food and fiber production to ensure their own – S the state’s – prosperity in the decades ahead.
Hyde-Smith, a Republican from Brookhaven who in 2011 became the first woman elected to the statewide agriculture post, was keynote speaker for Mississippi State University’s Row Crops Field Day at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center.
A crowd of several hundred farmers and others associated with agri-business, partially filled the Magnolia Conference Center.
‘Mississippi agriculture made $7 billion in 2011 for Mississippi’s economy,” she said. “Almost 29 percent of the jobs in Mississippi are directly or indirectly related to agriculture and agricultural products.”
Hyde-Smith, who was chairman of the state Senate Agriculture Committee before her election, called for a full-time position in the Mississippi Development Authority staff to recruit and develop agriculture-related jobs. Hyde-Smith said she has devoted significant time to building strong relations with MDA, the state’s chief economic development agency.
She said afterward that prevailing drought conditions nationwide have created strong prices for grain crops like soybeans and corn, both major row crops in Mississippi.
She said Mississippi farmers who are growing corn and soybeans can expect strong prices when their 2012 crops are sold.
Hyde-Smith also noted that several Northeast Mississippi counties’ farmers will be eligible for some form of emergency disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture related to drought damage.