Agriculture decision makers from the Southern region of the United States gathered in Biloxi to attend the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s annual conference this week.

The conference allowed key industry leaders in the Southern region and Mississippi to discuss important issues facing the agriculture industry, like the Farm Bill and international trade.

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick updated SASDA members on the issues the Federation has been working on diligently.

“Two of the concerns Farm Bureau has been dealing with is how the Mississippi River is affecting agriculture and farming and how Farm Bureau is working with other agriculture organizations to improve Mississippi agriculture,” McCormick said.

A large issue facing the Federation revolves around the Mississippi River sedimentation build up and the lack of a levee system south of Vicksburg.

“Major flooding is happening almost every year now,” McCormick said. “The Army Corps of Engineers must take steps to fix the river. Right now, our goal is to get these farmers affordable crop insurance. They don’t want to be insurance farmers, they just want to be able to make another crop and pass their land on to their children.”

In order to help farmers in the lower Mississippi River, the Federation has been working with the United States Legislature to attach an amendment to the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill asking the Risk Management Agency to perform a study on the Mississippi River flooding and report back to Congress the results. The Federation hopes this will give Congress the data needed to assist these farmers.

McCormick also updated members of SASDA on the role the Federation played in the 2018 Mississippi Legislative session.

“The last legislative session was very successful,” he said. “We rolled out the ‘We Farm. We Vote.’ campaign to get our members out to the polls to vote, so our rural voice can be heard. We were able to get the Right to Farm bill passed. It passed with a lot of debate, but it’s a step in the right direction. We assisted in supporting the passage of the agriculture disaster bill, and worked extensively on rural infrastructure and broadband issues.”

In addition, McCormick explained how the Federation is making efforts to partner with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Commissioner of Agriculture Andy Gipson and other agriculture organizations in Mississippi.

“We have strength in numbers with Farm Bureau,” McCormick said. “That’s what makes us great. We have to join all of our organizations together with one voice. That’s what Farm Bureau tries to work with other Ag groups.”

SASDA members are comprised of the Commissioners, Secretaries and Directors of Agriculture and their staff from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the Virgin Islands.

SASDA serves as one of four region organizations that make up the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. NASDA strives to grown and enhance agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government and stakeholders.