State Agricultural Leaders Mourn Loss of McCarty AGRICULTURAL LEADERS across the South and regulatory agency heads from Washington and Jackson were shocked by the sudden death of Robert McCarty, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry. In the span of McCarty's career with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, he managed numerous crises with the precision of a surgeon performing an organ transplant.

"Had it not been for Robert McCarty's leadership, good judgment, institutional knowledge, and the respect held for him among federal regulatory agencies, the Dioxin scare in catfish could have been catastrophic to our industry," stated Austin Jones, a catfish farmer who serves as chairman of the Aquaculture Committee of Delta Council.

"From the moment we contacted Robert McCarty about the inquiries being made by the Food and Drug Administration relative to trace levels of Dioxin detects, Robert coordinated a response almost with `strike force' strategy," the Moorhead catfish farmer added.

On October 26, McCarty had heart failure on his way to a noon luncheon with a colleague from Mississippi State. McCarty had served in numerous capacities of public service during his working career. After serving for a short period in an assignment which stationed him in Sharkey County, Mississippi, McCarty moved to the Starkville campus to become the Associate Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry during the 1970s. Upon the retirement of Jack Coley, McCarty moved up to become the Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry, where he served until his death.

"There are so many instances where Robert McCarty played a pivotal role in bringing timely solutions to challenges that seemed overwhelming," stated Kenneth Hood, Delta Council president. "Mississippi has lost one of its true giants, when it comes to human health, the environment, agriculture, and the welfare of farmers," added Hood, the Bolivar County cotton farmer.