Through it all, his associates and fellow farmers say, his “work ethic, humor, compassion, down-to-earth common sense and forward-thinking sensibility were unrelenting.”

Waide began his Farm Bureau leadership journey when he was elected president in his home county in 1972. When he ran for vice president of the north Mississippi region in 1994, the 1996 farm bill was about to be written.

“One of the priorities of my campaign was to emphasize the importance of agriculture continuing to have target prices and loan support for the commodities,” he says. “This was paramount in allowing the flexibility of marketing that farmers needed to get out of the huge harvest glut of crops and to give them a mechanism to market their crops during the other 10 or 11 months of the year. We were successful in maintaining the loan program range and the target prices, and agriculture survived.”

When he became the eighth Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation president in 1996, two of his top goals were to further strengthen the organization’s already powerful voice in the state legislature and to raise its visibility and clout in dealing with an increasing regulatory burden on agriculture.

“I wanted those in the legislature and those in the regulatory arena to recognize Farm Bureau’s influence,” he says. “I wanted those in the regulatory field to understand that we would only accept decisions based upon sound science — not on emotion or what some bureaucrat thinks might be a good idea.”

Other priorities included increased emphasis on education and communications.