Traveling throughout our great state visiting farms, stockyards, nurseries, greenhouses, and orchards, it is easy to see why Mississippi has such an incredibly rich and diverse agricultural history. With our fertile soil, temperate climate, and gifted farmers, we have the resources, fortitude, and versatility to provide safe, affordable food to the growing world population.
As a cattle farmer, stockyard owner, and former state senator, agriculture is a central part of my life, and I understand its significant impact on our economy. Given the current economic climate, what Mississippians need now are jobs. We can bring new industry to our state and create more agriculture related jobs by fostering important partnerships with organizations like the Mississippi Development Authority. Together, we can capture new opportunities, create new markets for growers, and prepare for the type of industrial expansion it will take to keep up with the pace of demand.
However, to encourage growth in the agricultural sector, it is important to maintain strong consumer protection services. The capable staff of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce will continue its efficient approach to its regulatory responsibilities by further implementing flexible mobile devices and user-friendly online applications to enhance food safety and fueling station inspections, monitor pesticide applications, and investigate claims of agricultural theft, among other crucial regulatory activities. By using emerging technology, we can strengthen the enforcement of critical laws and regulations to ensure fairness and equity in the marketplace while maintaining high standards for agricultural products and services.
There are so many unique opportunities on the horizon for farmers looking to broaden their consumer base, increase revenue, and create jobs. Through targeted marketing campaigns and educational initiatives, we can support our growers and help them increase visibility and seek out new markets.
Agri-tourism, for instance, has a promising future in Mississippi . What better place to jump-start this trend on a local level, than with our youth? Just think of all the schools in our 82 counties that are all looking for educational field trips . The agricultural community can provide excellent demonstrations of our most essential industry while teaching our children that milk doesn’t simply come from the grocery store and beef, poultry, and pork aren’t created under a plastic wrap container.
Another potential area for expansion is in alternative energy; an industry I believe is poised to grow in Mississippi in the very near future. Right now, businesses are looking to our state to start alternative energy ventures, and we have to be prepared to market our abundant natural resources if we want to set ourselves apart.
There are so many special projects I would like to see implemented throughout the agency, and I certainly look forward to working with the staff and the legislature to enhance and promote agriculture in our state. We’ve already begun seeking sponsorships for upgrades to the Mississippi State Fairgrounds, developing new attractions at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum , and building working relationships with other government agencies, agricultural and forestry organizations, and universities. In the coming months, my staff and I will focus on identifying additional areas of need in which the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce can provide even greater services to the citizens of the State of Mississippi .
I am truly honored to be your new Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.