It was almost a homecoming when Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden delivered the keynote address at the 79th annual meeting of the Delta Council Friday (May 30).
Harden, a former staff member of the American Soybean Association, CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts and chief of staff at USDA, had worked with many members of the audience on a variety of projects in Washington. The daughter and granddaughter of farmers in Southwest Georgia, Harden obviously relished sharing her thoughts with the Council members and its guests.
One of those was heart-felt thanks to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who shared the platform with her and a number of other dignitaries at the federal and state level. Harden saluted Cochran for his "fairness and willingness to work with other members of Congress and the administration to find solutions to the problems of Mississippi and the nation."
She also thanked Cochran for his "hard work" on the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the newest offering in the Conservation Title of the Agricultural Act of 2014. The RCPP, she said, combines four former conservation programs into one and streamlines the process for farmers to take steps to protect the quality of water leaving their farms.
Harden said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has charged the USDA farm bill implementation working group she chairs with getting the new farm bill in place as quickly as possible because of the "need for certainty in the farm community. But he also told us to do it right, and we intend to do that.
That includes rolling out the new Stacked Income Protection Plan or STAX program for cotton to as many counties as possible for the 2015 growing season, she said. For more on STAX, see Surviving farm bill changes.