MS Senate Hearing Update - The Rest of the Story
August 26, 2018
Farm Update - The meeting that almost did not happen! As you know, I testified before the MS Senate AG Committee Tuesday. However, this meeting almost did not happen because of politics and lobbyist efforts to shut it down. Here is what I was told: First, you have to understand this is an election year!
To use rooms in the State Capital the Senators have to reserve them ahead of time through Sen. Terry Burton who is the Senate Pro Tempore. When you Google his name he is listed as a "politician". He has been in the State Senate for 27 years and has a colorful past. The Pro Tempore is #2 over the Senate behind Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves - who is running to be the next MS Governor.
Burton sent his secretary and Capital Security to shut down the meeting. Nether Burton or Reeves wanted to be directly tied to their attempt to keep this meeting from happening. However, Senator Hill overcame the opposition and we were able to have the hearing.
You can view my slides and notes by clicking here. There were no questions from the Senators.
The following folks also testified before the Committee:
Rose Hancock, Poultry Farmer, Hancock Farms, Mize, Miss.
Nick Wallace, Chef/Culinary Artist/Entrepreneur, Jackson, Miss.
Katie Dixon, Chef/Restauranteur, Hattiesburg, Miss.
David Raines, Chef/Restauranteur/Custom Butcher, Jackson/Flora, Miss.
Mark Leggett, President of the MS Poultry Association, was in attendance. From what I heard, he was furious that the meeting took place. On the Association's website it says they represent the interest of ALL segments of the state's largest agricultural industry. If so, then why do they NOT support small farmers who provide a product that the large processors/ growers do not? We each serve two totally separate markets!
North Carolina has proven that both large processors and small direct market farms can coexist because in NC there are >1000 small farms who can process up to the Fed Exemption of 20,000/yr. where Sanderson Farms built their last processing plant in 2017 with a weekly capacity of 1.25 million chickens. Importantly, NC agricultural value is >$85 billion per year or 10.5 times MS agriculture value. If MS equaled NC then our annual agriculture industry would be $75 Billion!
Interviews held following the hearing:
MS Public Radio - click here
WDAM - click here (note that the footage aired live was not my farm. I called and had them correct using footage from my farm and chickens that you will see in this online version)
MS Matters - click here
I also had an interview with the documentary film crew set up by the MS Center for Public Policy that will be available at a later date.
Outcome: "I've been reading all of the state laws and regulations to determine what the answer is," Commissioner Gipson said."Today, I don't have the answer. I expect we'll be in discussions with the committee, whether a bill is required or not."
So, what do you think? Do you support politicians who what to restrict your food choice to only Big AG that makes large political donations to their campaigns? Or, do you support food freedom! As a consumer, you have two votes. The first is at the ballot box. The second vote is how you spend your food dollars.
There is a better way. Eat "Real Farm Foods" grown by a Local farmer you know and trust.
Lastly- I want to thank each of you who wrote to let us know you are praying for us. We appreciate your prayers very much and put our faith in God for the outcome.
"I will pray for you as you testify in front of the MS Ag committee. May you be successful and have favor with God and man as Jesus did. " ~B Smith
Quote Worth Re-Quoting – “Republican Senator Angela Hill of Picayune is on the Agriculture Committee. She says she hopes Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson will make the call in favor of the small farmers and chefs. "Um that's the worst thing we could be doing is hindering our people who farm more naturally from getting their products to market and that's what we have been doing in the state of Mississippi. If it's okay for the USDA and it's okay for 40 other states it ought to be okay for Mississippi,' said Hill."
As always, thank you for supporting our regenerative, local farm.
Ben & Beth