Delta Council Seeks Senator Lott's Help with Economic Assistance Package

Editor's Note: Delta Council recently corresponded with Majority Leader Trent Lott about the current situation of agriculture in the Delta. We thought our readers would be interested in the correspondence.

April 2, 2001

Senator Trent Lott
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
487 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Lott,

As we approach the beginning of a new crop season in Mississippi, we want to correspond with you and report that Mississippi agriculture is in the most deplorable condition that we have witnessed in the past half-century. The combination of a strong U.S. dollar, rising farm input costs, and market prices which have sustained at historically low levels for 3 consecutive years has resulted in a financially-distressed situation throughout the Mississippi farming community.

We are deeply grateful for the leadership which you have demonstrated in the Congress, which recognizes the growing financial crisis which faces agriculture. As we look toward the 2001 crop season, we see the debt-to-equity position of Mississippi farmers rapidly deteriorating. The huge agricultural infrastructure in Mississippi, which has been developed through private investments over the last century, such as grain elevators, cottonseed oil mills, cotton gins, and processing plants, is severely threatened due to the overall condition of the farm economy. Additionally, farm loans are becoming extremely leveraged and many loans would not be made at all, if the production lenders were not anxiously anticipating emergency market loss assistance in 2001, similar to that which has occurred in the previous two crop seasons. The assets of virtually every agricultural employer are being depleted in order to sustain financially through this third consecutive year of depressed prices.

Delta Council is working closely with national commodity organizations and the leadership from the Committees on Agriculture in both the House and Senate to develop a responsible course of action which will bring interim stability to the farm economy. We have also joined with other organizations to encourage the Secretary of Agriculture to offer recommendations to the Congress which could respond to the current economic plight of agriculture, while the Congress and the Administration begin preparing to develop proposals for new farm legislation in 2002. We are hopeful that Secretary Veneman will step forward with a proposal in the coming weeks, but if she opts not to do so, we are hopeful that you will focus immediate attention on the extremely fragile condition of agricultural income in time to provide economic assistance for the 2001 crop season.

We thank you for your leadership in the Congress and the direction which you have taken to bring about economic stability for Mississippi.

With best regards,
Kenneth Hood
President

Silver City to Carter Goes Back to Work

U.S. 49 Construction Resumes

FOLLOWING two years of a halt to construction on U.S. 49 between Silver City and the Yazoo River, the Mississippi Department of Transportation has arranged for the schedule on Highway 49 to be accelerated. Earlier, the project was halted and the schedule was delayed for completion by five years, but due to the efforts of Central District Highway Commissioner Dick Hall, the four-lane construction on Highway 49 will resume as earlier planned.

“From the beginning, Highway 49 was dedicated to be the primary artery for connecting the Mississippi Delta to the state capital,” stated Griffin Norquist, a Delta Council Highway Committee leader and banker from Yazoo City.

After construction was halted on the segment of highway between Carter and Silver City, Delta Council leaders began working with county officials, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation to re-establish the highway segment as one of its highest priorities. Due to funding shortfalls, the segment, which stretches through Humphreys and Yazoo Counties, was threatened for considerable delays, but through the cooperative efforts of local officials, Commissioner Dick Hall, and Delta Council leaders, the highway was placed back in a position of priority for accelerated completion.

“We are committed to riding on a four-lane highway from the mid-Delta to Jackson by 2004, and we are grateful to Commissioner Hall and all of the local public officials who worked cooperatively with him to make certain that there were no further delays which would stand in the way of this project,” added Norquist, one of the prime movers of the effort to restore the accelerated schedule on U.S. Highway 49 between the Delta and Jackson.

The road between Silver City and Carter will be awarded to contract in July, 2001. The first item of work will be the northbound lanes, and the southbound lanes will begin construction after the northbound lanes are finished.

Delta Council's 66th Annual Meeting Keynoted By U.S. Secretary Of Agriculture

DELTA Council President Kenneth Hood of Gunnison announces that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the Honorable Ann Veneman, will be the keynote speaker at the Delta Council Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 24, 2001. The meeting will convene at 9:30 a.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University.

“We are pleased that Secretary Veneman will address our 66th annual meeting,” said Hood, a Bolivar County farmer and ginner. “Secretary Veneman is very aware of the critical situation that is facing agriculture, not only in the Mississippi Delta, but across the United States, and we look forward to having the opportunity to exchange with her regarding future U.S. farm policy.”

Secretary Veneman, who will be the sixth Secretary of Agriculture to speak to Delta Council, the 66-year old organization. Ms. Veneman was raised on a farm in California and has previously served in several positions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including a stint as Deputy Secretary from 1991 to 1993. More recently, she served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, managing agricultural programs and services for the nation's largest agricultural producing state.

Secretary Veneman was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate and sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Agriculture on January 20, 2001. An attorney, she earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Davis, a master's degree from the University of California, and a juris doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law.

Hood also noted that Delta Council decided to move the meeting from the Sillers Coliseum across the street to the new Bologna Performing Arts Center.

“After careful consideration, Delta Council felt like the Bologna Performing Arts Center offered us a whole lot more in terms of comfort for our members and guests, as well as the ability to utilize more in the way of audio-video technology,” Hood noted.

Veneman will join a list of noted speakers who have keynoted the organization's annual meeting from the fields of business, literature, public policy and science. The Delta Council Annual Meeting will be held in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the campus of Delta State University, beginning at 9:30 a.m. A catfish luncheon at 12 noon will conclude the day's events. For further information about the Delta Council Annual Meeting, please call 662-686-3350.

Delta Council is an area development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. Each year Delta Council members and guests are invited to attend the annual meeting of the organization, which features a keynote address by a respected public figure with a significant message for residents of the Mississippi Delta.

Council Expresses Appreciation to Annual Meeting Sponsors

DELTA Council President Kenneth Hood of Gunnison expresses thanks to seven companies who have made tremendous contributions to the 66th Annual Meeting of Delta Council.

“These seven companies have shown their genuine commitment to the Mississippi Delta by making significant contributions toward our efforts in putting on the best possible meeting for our membership and special guests,” said Hood, a Bolivar County farmer and ginner. “Through their financial and technical support, they are helping make the Delta a better place through their support of Delta Council.”

The companies that have stepped forward in assisting Delta Council with the meeting include: KBH Corporation, Case IH, BASF, Delta Farm Press, Viking Range Corp., Union Planters, and Coopwood Communications.

Delta Council Annual Meeting Guest Speakers

1938 Francis B. Sayre, Assistant Secretary of State
1939 John Temple Graves, II
Oscar Johnston, President, National
Cotton Council of America
1940 J. P. Sanger, Vice President, U. S. Gypsum Co.
D. Howard Doane, President,
Doane Agricultural Service
Edward A. O'Neal, President,
American Farm Bureau Federation
1941 Raymond Leslie Buell, Fortune Magazine
R. D. Hall, Past President, Combed Yarn
Spinners Assn., Gastonia, N.C.
1942 Hugh M. Comer, Chairman of the Board,
Avondale Mills, Sylacauga, Ala.
Thurman Arnold, Assistant Attorney General
1943 R. G. LeTourneau, President, R. G. LeTourneau, Inc.
Governor Sam Houston Jones, State of Louisiana
Honorable Jeff Williams, Chickasha, Okla.
1944 Dr. Gus W. Dyer, Economist, Southern States
Industrial Council, Nashville, Tenn.
Rufus C. Branch, President Agricultural
Council of Arkansas
1945 Meeting Cancelled
1946 Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Agriculture
1947 Dean Acheson, Under Secretary of State
1948 Richard B. Harkness, NBC Commentator
O. V. Wells, Chief, Bureau of Agricultural Economics
1949 John Duncan Miller, Chief, London Times
Bureau, Washington, D. C.
Charles F. Brannan, Secretary of Agriculture
1950 David L. Cohn, Political Analyst and Lecturer
Honorable Harry F. Byrd, U.S. Senator from Virginia
1951 Dr. Benjamin Cohen, Assistant Secretary
General, United Nations
Honorable Val Peterson, Governor of Nebraska
1952 Brigadier General Peter A. Feringa, Corps
of Engineers, U.S. Army,
President, MS River Comm.
William Faulkner, Oxford, Miss.
Honorable James F. Byrnes, Governor of
South Carolina
1953 Major General Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr.,
Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army
Honorable Ezra Taft Benson,
Secretary of Agriculture
1954 Honorable Hugh White, Governor of Mississippi
John S. Coleman, President, Burroughs
Corporation, Detroit, Mich.
1955 Honorable Samuel C. Waugh, Assistant
Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
Honorable Allen J. Ellender, United States
Senator from Louisiana
1956 Honorable W. R. Poage, Member of
Congress from Texas; Vice Chairman,
Agriculture Committee, U.S. House of
Representatives David Rockefeller,
Executive Vice President, Chase,
Manhattan Bank, New York
Frank D. Daniels, General Sales Manager,
Commodity Stabilization Service, USDA
1957 Harvey S. Firestone, Jr., Chairman and
Executive Officer, The Firestone
Tire and Rubber Company
Major General E. C. Itschner,
Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army
Miss Esther Lyman, Merchandise Editor,
Harper's Bazaar
1958 Robert C. Jackson, Executive Vice President,
American Cotton Manufacturers Institute
Honorable Sinclair Weeks, Secretary of Commerce
1959 Dr. Wernher von Braun, Director,
Development Operations Division, Army
Ballistic Missile Agency, U.S. Army
Ordnance Missile Command
Halbert M. Jones, President, Waverly
Mills, Inc. Laurinburg, N.C., and Immediate
Past President, American Cotton
Manufacturers Institute
1960 Richardson Wood, Senior Partner,
Program Research, Inc., New York City
Robert T. Stevens, President, J.P.
Stevens & Co., Inc., New York City
1961 J. M. Cheatham, President, American
Cotton Manufacturers Institute, Inc.
Congressman Harold D. Cooley of North
Carolina, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee
1962 Honorable James O. Eastland, United
States Senator from Mississippi;
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
General B. A. Schriever, Commander, Air
Force Systems Command,
United States Air Force
1963 Vice Admiral Fitzhugh Lee,
Chief, Naval Air Training
Honorable John L. McClellan,
U.S. Senator from Arkansas
1964 Senator John C. Stennis,
U.S. Senator from Mississippi
William E. Reid, President, Riegel Textile Corp.
1965 Frank R. Ahlgren, Editor,
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
Honorable Jamie L. Whitten, Member of
Congress from Mississippi
1966 Miss Eleanor Lambert, Eleanor Lambert, Inc.,
New York City
Governor Paul B. Johnson, Mississippi
1967 The Honorable J. Keith Waller,
Ambassador of Australia
Thomas W. Moore, President, American
Broadcasting Co. TV Network
1968 Gerald L. Phillippe, Chairman of the Board,
General Electric Co., New York
1969 Congressman G. V. Montgomery, Mississippi
Congressman Thomas G. Abernethy, Mississippi
Congressman Jamie L. Whitten, Mississipi
1970 Miss Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Miss America - 1965
Attorney General John N. Mitchell
1971 Rear Admiral Alan B. Shepard, Jr., USN,
Apollo 14 Commander
1972 The Honorable Herman E. Talmadge,
United States Senator from Georgia -
Chairman, Senate Agriculture
and Forestry Committee
1973 The Honorable Earl L. Butz,
Secretary of Agriculture
1974 The Honorable Henry M. Jackson, United
States Senator from Washington,
Chairman, Senate Interior and Insular
Affairs Committee
J. Dukes Wooters, Jr., President, Cotton
Incorporated, New York City
1975 Senator John C. Stennis, Senator from Mississippi,
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee
1976 Representative Thomas S. Foley, Chairman,
House Committee on Agriculture,
Spokane, Washington
1977 Senator Russell B. Long, Louisiana, Chairman,
Finance Committee, United States Senate
1978 The Honorable Robert C. Byrd, United
States Senator from West Virginia -
Majority Leader, United States Senate
1979 Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., United
States Senator from Tennessee, Minority
Leader, United States Senate
1980 Honorable William F. Winter, Governor of Mississippi
1981 Honorable John R. Block, Secretary of Agriculture,
1982 Ambassador William E. Brock,
The United States Trade Representative
1983 Governor William Winter, State of Mississippi
1984 Honorable George Bush,
Vice President of the United States
1985 Honorable Larry Speakes, Chief Spokesperson
for President Ronald Reagan
1986 Honorable Richard E. Lyng,
Secretary of Agriculture
1987 Honorable Robert Dole,
Senate Minority Leader,
United States Senate, State of Kansas
Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman,
Senate Agricultural, Nutrition,
and Forestry Committee,
State of Vermont
1988 His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga,
Ambassador to the United States,
Embassy of Japan
Honorable Ray Mabus, Governor,
State of Mississippi
Honorable Bill Clinton, Governor,
State of Arkansas
Honorable Buddy Roemer, Governor,
State of Louisiana
1989 Honorable Kika de la Garza, Chairman,
House Agriculture Committee, United
States House of Representatives
1990 Honorable Robert Novak, Co-host “Crossfire”
1991 Honorable Ken Tomlinson, Editor-in-Chief,
Reader's Digest
1992 Senator Thad Cochran,
Member of Congress, Mississippi
1993 Senator Trent Lott,
Member of Congress, Mississippi
1994 Honorable Mike Espy,
Secretary of Agriculture (Mississippi)
1995 Governor Kirk Fordice, Governor,
State of Mississippi
1996 Archie Manning, Mississippi Ambassador
& Football Great
1997 Senator Trent Lott,
Senate Majority Leader
1998 General Henry Shelton,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
1999 Congressman Larry Combest (Texas),
Chairman, House Agriculture Committee
2000 Ronnie Musgrove, Governor,
State of Mississippi

Delta F.A.R.M. To Hold May 1 Annual Meeting and Conservation Tour

DELTA Farmers Advocating Resource Management or Delta F.A.R.M. will celebrate its third full year of service to Delta agriculture and the environment by holding its 2001 Annual Meeting and Conservation Tour on May 1st. More than 50 producers, sponsors, and resource agency staff are expected to attend the event.

W. A. Percy, II will introduce the keynote speaker, Charles Chisolm, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Mr. Chisolm will address the association on upcoming fish advisories in the Mississippi Delta region and the potential impacts of TMDLs.

Percy will also announce the new Chairman of Delta F.A.R.M., Philip Barbour. Philip farmed cotton and soybeans in Sidon, Miss. for many years and is most known for his cooperation with the MESA Project. Over the past 5 years, Philip has allowed researchers to monitor and evaluate various conservation practiced implemented on his farm. Philip has recently been accepted into a Ph.D. program at Mississippi State University where he will work on various agriculturally related conservation projects.

Nolen Canon, a Delta F.A.R.M. Executive Committee Member for Tunica, will continue the program by presenting the 2000 Delta F.A.R.M. Progress Report. Mike Sturdivant, Jr. will follow by presenting the 2000 Financial Report and recognizing the Delta F.A.R.M. Sponsors, which include Syngenta, Delta & Pine Land Company, FMC, Farmers Grain Terminal, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

Delta F.A.R.M. staff will present the 2000 Delta F.A.R.M. Environmental Stewardship Report. This annual report documents all the current non-regulatory conservation efforts of the Delta F.A.R.M. membership. More than 400,000 acres of cropland were evaluated during the 2000-cropping year. In the three years of evaluation, the Delta F.A.R.M. membership has continuously exhibited elevated conservation awareness by implementing more and more of the BMPs advocated by the organization.

Following lunch, guests and media members will travel to Indianola to participate in Delta F.A.R.M.'s first Conservation Field Day. Jim Parkman and David Brunson with the NRCS will serve as moderators for the tour as the group will make several stops to view various on-farm conservation projects.

The first stop will be made at Kay Planting Company where EQIP projects have helped to slow sedimentation and erosion on the Sunflower River. Other stops at Kay Planting Company will allow guests to view no-till corn, no-till soybeans, forested riparian buffers, grass filter strips, wildlife plantings, sediment retention structures, and Continuous CRP.

The tour will conclude as guests will be able to see one of the most impressive tail water recovery systems developed in the state on Bradshaw, et. al. The massive project was almost completely funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

For more information on Delta FARM, please contact 662-686-3370.

Hawks Named to a top USDA Post

BILL HAWKS OF Hernando was recently named by President George W. Bush to serve as an Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory programs.

‘The nomination of Hawks, who was supported by both Senator Thad Cochran and Majority Leader Trent Lott, was widely praised throughout Mississippi and the rest of the agricultural community of the United States. Hawks, 56, raises cotton, soybeans and grain on a 7,700 acre farm in DeSoto County. A former State Senator, Hawks has long been active in agricultural circles. Hawks is currently serving as a director of Delta Council from DeSoto County, and he has been a leader in Farm Bureau and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

“Bill Hawks is one of the most widely respected farmers and agri-businessmen in the country and we applaud the President in selecting him to this high level post in the United States Department of Agriculture,” said Kenneth Hood, president of the Delta Council. “Bill has a keen appreciation of agriculture's role in the economy, and his record of distinguished service to agriculture is a testimony to his dedication and love of our industry.”

His wife, Diane, a partner in their farming operation, has also been named to the State Committee for the Farm Service Agency.