Mississippi’s agriculture industry is responsible for $7.2 billion of income, Bryant notes, more than the legislature’s $5.8 billion budget for the entire state. And about 29 percent of the state’s workforce is directly or indirectly involved in agriculture.

“Everyone gets excited about our aerospace industry, our shipbuilding industry, our auto manufacturing plants, but we should never take for granted out great agribusiness industry,” he says.

 At the 2011 Mississippi Agribusiness Summit, Bryant says, “We had some great discussion about what the governor and legislature can do to help promote the state’s agriculture. Messages that came through loud and clear were: Stay out of our way. Let us do our job. Make sure you don’t over-regulate what we’re trying to do. Make sure there are laws to protect us, such as the law we passed to limit the liability of persons involved in the agritourism industry.

“Those of us one generation from the farm could never have conceived that people would bring their children, and pay money, to see what a f arm looks like. But they are doing just that, and agritourism is a growing part of our state’s agricultural economy.”

Mississippi’s abundant forests and pine plantations represent a potential growth industry, Bryant says.

“With the interest in using cellulose to produce fuel, Mississippi’s abundant forests offer opportunities for the future. The Kior Corp., a next generation biofuels company, will soon fill their first tanker with cellulosic fuel at their Columbus plant.  “It’s critical that we continue to support a strong forestry/logging community in our state, and vital ag education and research, and I’ve asked our legislature to fully fund the ag units of our state universities.”

Bryant commended Mississippi Farm Bureau for its role in getting an eminent domain referendum on the state’s ballot last year, and helping secure its passage.

“It was an emphatic statement that our people don’t believe the government should take private land and give it to someone else just because it would generate more tax revenue. The influence of Farm Bureau was key to the passage of this legislation.”