Congressional agenda begins to close in on catfish

WITH THE FIRST session of the 107th Congress nearing an end, measures aimed at funding the government (Appropriations bills) appear to be the most logical next-step for Delta Council, as the regional organization urges the Congress to prohibit importers of Vietnamese fish from using the term catfish to market their Basa fish.

“Any prospective Senate farm bill or the final Appropriations bills offer the vehicle for us to correct what we consider to be consumer fraud, — the consumer's expectation to eat a U.S. farm-raised catfish when in fact, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing a quirk in their labeling restrictions to permit Vietnamese Basa fish to be sold as catfish,” stated Ben Lamensdorf of Cary, Delta Council President.

“Since FDA has chosen to interpret their authority in a way which allows the U.S. catfish industry to remain under siege by a foreign imposter fish, we have spent most of our time since August focusing on legislative options to address this problem confronting the catfish industry,” Lamensdorf added.

During the past 15 months, Vietnamese Basa fish has captured approximately 25% of the U.S. farm-raised catfish fillet market. Catfish farmers have focused on three areas of grievances including: 1) consumer fraud, which is the act of utilizing market names that mislead the consumer and do not meet consumer expectations, 2) anti-dumping, which is the act of introducing a product into the U.S. domestic market at prices “below the cost of production”, in order to penetrate a market which has been established by a U.S. industry, and 3) labeling, which is the aspect of the Vietnamese Basa import issue which is the focus of legislative change.

“Senator Cochran and Senator Lott, with the support of their colleagues from catfish-producing states, will be attempting to correct the labeling issue in the remaining weeks which are left in this session of the 107th Congress, and they have assured us that they feel that this is an attainable goal,” concluded Lamensdorf.

Delta hosts Institutions of Higher Learning board

ON THE SECOND occasion in less than five years, the Board of Institutions of Higher Learning has chosen to visit the Mississippi Delta and hold their monthly board meeting at the Stoneville Experiment Station.

“As a former member of the College Board, I can report that it is significant for the board to visit Stoneville, at a time when priority-setting for higher education is so prominently facing state budget constraints,” stated Cass Pennington, the Chairman of the Committee on Educational Policy for Delta Council.

In the face of state budget shortfalls, higher education board members have begun to review tuition hikes, hiring freezes, and even reductions in services to their campuses as a way to maintain quality education. The Legislative Budget Committee for the Mississippi Legislature is confronted with a projected deficit for the next fiscal year and revenue growth is approximately 3-4% below earlier projections.

“We recognize that the College Board is facing some very tough decisions and as priorities are set for the future of higher education in Mississippi, we feel that Delta State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Stoneville are positioned to continue providing leadership in research and education for the economy and people of this region,” added Dr. Pennington. The Board of Institutions of Higher Learning join Delta Council and Mississippi State University for a reception overlooking the Mississippi River at Catfish Point Hunting Lodge while in the Delta.

MEMBERS OF THE COLLEGE BOARD ARE AS FOLLOWS:

William S. Crawford, Meridian, President
Bryce Griffis, Starkville, Vice President
Thomas W. Colbert, Brandon
Dr. L. Stacy Davidson, Jr., Cleveland
Ms. Ricki R. Garrett, Clinton
Roy Klumb, Gulfport
Dr. D. E. Magee, Jr., Jackson
Dr. Bettye H. Neely, Grenada
Ms. Virginia Shanteau Newton, Gulfport
Carl Nicholson, Jr., Hattiesburg
Scott Ross, West Point
Ms. Amy Whitten, Oxford

IHL Board visits Delta Research & Extension Experiment Station

IHL Board Members conduct business in the B.F. Smith Auditorium in Stoneville. The Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Station is one of the largest research facilities of its kind in the world. In addition to the Than Cochran Warmwater Aquaculture Center, the Experiment Station is also home to the Regional Headquarters of the Agricultural Research Service. While at Stoneville, IHL Board Members got a first-hand look at the operations of the research facility.

2001 Delta Wildlife EXPO to be held Nov. 2-4 in Greenville

DELTA WILDLIFE would like to welcome you to the 2001 Delta Wildlife EXPO.

The Delta Wildlife EXPO opens Friday, November 2nd, at 3:00 p.m. and will continue through Sunday, November 4th, at 5:00 p.m. The EXPO will be held at the Washington County Convention Center in Greenville, Mississippi.

The EXPO has hosted 11-years of fun and excitement. But this year, the excitement level will be elevated as the first 500 people who come to the EXPO will have a chance to win a brand new 2002 Dodge 4-door truck or a Polaris 4-Wheeler from James Ceranti's White-Wilson of Greenville.

Delta Wildlife will also be hosting its first Big Buck Contest for the Mississippi Delta. Anyone may enter the contest by registering his or her deer on Thursday night, November 1, from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Washington County Convention Center. Contestants may enter more than one deer, so long as they were harvested under fair chase conditions. Whitetail deer harvested from any state are eligible. Security will be on hand throughout the event to keep people from touching the mounts and insure safety for all.

All deer harvested in Mississippi and scoring 125 for typical or 155 for non-typical, regardless of when the deer was killed, will be entered into the Magnolia Record books. Pictures of these deer will be taken and put on the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks website. (www.mdwfp.com) Scores for each deer, on mater where the deer was killed, will be posted below the mounts on Saturday afternoon and awards will be presented on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. After the awards, their owners may take the deer home.

There will be 5 divisions for contestants to enter. There will be an Unlimited Typical Division, Unlimited Non-Typical Division, Youth Division, Women's Division, and Archery Division. Prizes will be given out to the top three deer in each division.

The ever-popular Terry Venderventer is returning again to the 2001 Delta Wildlife EXPO. For years, Terry has amazed people with this educational and adrenaline pumped reptile seminars at the Delta Wildlife EXPO. Snake conservation and education is also very important to another EXPO participant. Robert Watkins has been coming to the Delta Wildlife EXPO for years with the North American Rattlesnake Exhibit. This exhibit features nearly all species of rattlesnakes found in North America. Both these gentlemen are dedicated to snake conservation and education and can help us all learn how to live with and respect these wonderful creatures.

Other attractions include the new 4-sided “Rock” is a 28' wall that simulates the face of a mountain, the Daisy Air Rifle Tournament, and virtual reality golf and fishing. There will also be a 12' aquarium stocked with area game fish sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As usual, the EXPO will also serve host to more than one hundred exhibitors from all across the country, selling and exhibiting the latest in outdoor accessories. From hunting to fishing, there will be an exhibitor who can cover your needs. Boats, trucks, ATVs, guns, clothing, boots, game calls, decoys, deer stands, and just about everything else imaginable will be under one roof. And if its decorative items you are looking for, look no further than the EXPO. Pottery, wildlife photography, artwork, and gifts for your holiday shopping can all be found at the EXPO.

So don't miss out! There will be something for everyone at the 2001 Delta Wildlife EXPO. Admission is $6.00 for adults, $3.00 for children, and free for children under 6.

DELTA WILDLIFE EXPO SCHEDULE
SEMINAR SCHEDULE

Friday, November 2, 2001
5:00 p.m. Dog Obedience Training with Reed Trusty
6:00 p.m. Snakes with Terry Vanderventer
7:00 p.m. Black Bears in the Delta wih Bo Sloan
Saturday, November 3, 2001
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Magnolia Records Scoring Session
2:00 p.m. Summer Food Plots for Deer by Larry Castle
3:00 p.m. Cut-Over Timber and Deer Management with Mike Staten
3:00 p.m. Daisy Air Rifle Tournament at the Air Rifle Shooting area
4:00 p.m. Turkey Habitat Needs with Eric Darracq
5:00 p.m. Snakes with Terry Vanderventer
6:00 p.m. Black Bears in the Delta with Bo Sloan
Sunday, November 4, 2001
1:00 p.m. Roll Dice for Free Truck
1:00 p.m. Black Bears in the Delta with Bo Sloan
2:00 p.m. Duck Calling with Greg Hood
3:00 p.m. Snakes with Terry Vanderventer
4:00 p.m. Big Buck Awards Presentation

MS farm groups cry foul over Ducks Unlimited effort to reduce farm support

FARM ORGANIZATIONS in Mississippi reacted with consternation over a prominent conservation groups efforts to dilute farm support programs in the House of Representatives Farm Bill, which passed the Agriculture Committee and was voted upon favorably by the full House.

The Committee Chairman's bill that eventually passed increased conservation programs by 80%, but Ducks Unlimited worked on Capitol Hill to garner support for the Boehlert-Kind-Gilchrest Amendment, which would have shifted almost $2 billion a year from farm commodity programs to WRP and CRP programs in the proposed 10-year farm legislation if it had passed.

The amendment failed by a 236-200 vote, with all Mississippi Congressmen voting against the measure.

Two Mississippi farm organizations, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and Delta Council, believe the effort was misguided.

“We are facing a desperate situation in agriculture and the House of Representatives has devised ten-year farm policy that could help Mississippi farmers and ranchers compete over the coming years, while providing enormous funding increases for farm conservation efforts,” pointed out Delta Council President Ben Lamensdorf of Cary. “As a matter of fact, commodity organizations across the country, including organizations like Farm Bureau, Delta Council, National Cotton Council, and U.S. Rice Producers, all supported an 80 percent increase in conservation title spending in the Farm Bill as passed by the House Agriculture Committee.”

Mississippi Farm Bureau President David Waide of West Point noted that farmers have been and will continue to be supportive of conservation efforts.

“Farmers and ranchers have been the backbone of all of the conservation efforts that have happened in this country over the past years,” said Waide. “It is disappointing that groups such as Ducks Unlimited, who have relied on farmer-led conservation efforts, are now trying to shift almost 20% of the commodity funds to conservation efforts when farmers have consistently supported and delivered increased funding for conservation efforts. One of the greatest concerns I have is food as a national security issue and one of the problems I have is giving up commodity title money for conservation use and the resulting loss of security for this nation of consumers.”

Waide and Lamensdorf said the underpinnings of rural America and Mississippi are being deteriorated due to the current period of economic depression in agriculture.

“It is hard to fathom that our friends in the conservation community would want to impose such drastic actions on agriculture and we are thankful that our Mississippi representatives all voted against the Boehlert-Kind-Gilchrest Amendment.”

Nutrition intervention group visits Delta

The Delta Nutrition Research Initiative (NIRI) participated in a recent tour of the Mississippi/Arkansas Delta. The mission of the initiative is to evaluate nutritional health in the Lower Delta (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi), and to design interventions to address any potential health problems.

The Delta (NIRI) is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ARS, and six institutions of higher education and research in three states. As part of the tour, the group made stops at Mississippi Valley State University and the Jonestown Community Center. Speakers on the tour included Chip Morgan, Executive Vice president of Delta Council and Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Director of the Center for Community Development at Delta State University. In the above photograph, Archie Tucker of USDA-ARS shakes hands with MS Valley State University President Lester Newman as Delta Council staffer Chip Morgan looks on.

THE DELTA COUNCIL REPORT

A Newsletter of Delta Council
PRESIDENT

Ben Lamensdorf
Cary

VICE PRESIDENTS
Cliff Heaton
Clarksdale

Ray Rounsaville
Charleston

Sledge Taylor
Como

Ray Makamson
Greenwood

Howard Sanders
Hollandale

Huey Townsend
Belzoni

TREASURER
Frank Sibley
Marks

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Chip Morgan

EDITOR
Frank Howell

Delta Council praises Pickering's efforts on catfish amendment

DELTA COUNCIL President Ben Lamensdorf commends the efforts of Congressman Chip Pickering in securing passage of an amendment to the Farm Security Act of 2001 that will require the term “catfish” to only be used in marketing and selling fish that are in the same family as the species of the U.S. farm-raised, freshwater catfish.

The amendment is an important step in ensuring that the problems currently facing the catfish industry will be solved. Currently, a Vietnamese fish being marketed as “basa catfish” has captured almost 25% of the United States farm-raised catfish market in the past fourteen months. By not allowing the Vietnamese fish to carry the moniker “catfish”, the product will not be able to mislead the American consumers about the fish.

“We applaud the efforts by Congressman Chip Pickering for introducing and shepherding this legislation through the House of Representatives and for all of our members of the Mississippi House delegation for voting for the amendment,” said Delta Council Aquaculture Chairman Austin Jones of Moorhead. “This effort will hopefully begin the process of ending the economic nightmare which is gripping the entire catfish industry.”

The Farm Security Act of 2001, which is the House version of ten-year farm legislation or the “Farm Bill”, still must be reconciled with a Senate version. However, the Senate has not indicated whether it will write a Farm Bill this year.

“Regardless of whether the Senate takes up farm legislation this year, Congressman Pickering's action is an important milestone in addressing this problem,” said Lamensdorf. “The fact that the United States House of Representatives recognizes this problem and is taking decisive steps to reverse the consumer fraud is an indication that the Congress is fed up with inaction by the federal agency with jurisdiction in this matter.”

State Fiscal Officer warns of deficit spending or higher taxes

IN A WEEKLY television program jointly sponsored by Delta Council and WABG TV, one of the state's chief fiscal officers, Lester Herrington of the State Tax Commission warned that the state's fiscal condition is very tentative and any new spending is almost certain to cause cuts in other areas of government, or new revenues (taxes).

“It was a sobering reminder of just how important the decisions confronting our state legislative leaders really seem to be,” stated Dr. Cass Pennington, who serves as Chairman of the Educational Policy Committee of Delta Council.

“The basic functions of state government including education, mental health, prisons, human services, and roads will be threatened if legislative leaders are required to make tough decisions about new spending,” added Pennington, the recently-retired Superintendent of Education for the Indianola Public School District.

Mississippi legislators are faced with tough decisions regarding the second phase of a teacher pay raise which is estimated to cost an additional $71 million in the next fiscal year. Also, public employees have indicated that pay raises are justified for them after several years of stagnant public employee pay scales. Additionally, prisons, healthcare, and other state services which the public expects to be fulfilled, will levy escalating costs to the state coffers.

“With the economy of the nation shaky, and Mississippi's fiscal condition barely remaining in balance, we think it is time for Mississippi consumers of these public services and those who are providing public services to be patient and mindful of the current situation as we approach this next legislation session,” added Kenneth Hood, the current Delta Council Executive Committee Chairman.

“As Lester Herrington advised the Delta on our weekly TV program, it might be time for us to all support last year's funding levels for all of our state services — at least until our state regains its economic balance,” added Hood.

MAC holds reception for new president

Hundreds of people showed their support recently at a reception for the new Mississippi Delta Community College President, Dr. Larry Bailey. Dr. Bailey succeeds Dr. Bobby Garvin. The event was held at the old National Guard Armory in Moorehead.

Pictured from left to right:

Shirley Vickers - retired MAC Secretary to the Librarian
June Williams - Personnel Coordinator, MDCC
Barry Corley - Field Crops and Agribusiness Instructor
Alice Williams - Post Mistress for Moorehead Post Office
Bill Ashley - Asst. Football Coach, MDCC
Joe Ray - Dean of Admissions, Records, and Financial Aid, MDCC
Gail Bailey - wife of Dr. Larry Bailey
Dr. Larry Bailey - President, MDCC
Lonnie Bailey - Brother of Dr. Larry Bailey