Mississippi Farm Bureau members and agricultural tech professionals meet with Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Board  

Several Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation members and partners recently attended the Electrical Cooperatives of Mississippi (ECM) board of directors meeting to talk about present and future rural broadband needs for farmers across Mississippi. The discussion covered everything from communications between equipment and the farmer, poultry house set ups, and quality of life.

Meeting participates included:

  • Brian Rhodes, Poultry Farmer – Pelahatchie
  • Jeremy Jack, Row Crop Farmer – Belzoni
  • Angel Perez, Director of Support, Diversified Agriculture (Manufacturer of Rotem, an agricultural controller)
  • Noble Guedon, Corporate Integrated Solutions Department Manager, Goldman Equipment (John Deere Dealership in Louisiana) & Row Crop Farmer – Natchez
  • Bart Freeland, Precision Ag Manager, Delta Group (Case International Dealership in Greenville)
  • Eric Preston, Smart Farm South Business Lead, Simplot Growers Solutions (Agricultural Retailer, formally Sanders Inc.)

After 2019, the Mississippi Legislature allowed the ECMs to run broadband in conjunction with their original purpose of electrifying rural Mississippi. Farm Bureau was supportive of this legislation, and there has been a tremendous growth of rural broadband since then. Federal CARES Act funding, which Mississippi used to invest in rural broadband in the 2020 Legislative Session, helped this growth immensely.

Most of the ECMs are now running broadband throughout their infrastructure. Farm Bureau looks forward to the day when every Mississippian has access to high-speed internet.

Mississippi Supreme Court strikes down Medical Marijuana initiative and referendum process  

The Mississippi Supreme Court issued a ruling on May 14 nullifying the recent Initiative 65 referendum, which would have legalized medical marijuana in Mississippi. The MSSC found that the initiative was not correctly listed on the ballot because the requirements in the Mississippi Constitution for a maximum of 20% of signatures from each congressional district was impossible.

The initiative process was placed in the Mississippi Constitution when there were five congressional districts, and we now have four. This means that not only is the medical marijuana initiative dead, but that it is impossible for other initiatives to be brought forward at this time.

Several state leaders have called for a special session to correct the initiative process, but it is yet to be seen if Gov. Tate Reeves, the only one with the authority to call a special session, will do so. There is also the question of whether or not the Mississippi Legislature will pass a medical marijuana program through statute since a majority of Mississippians supported Initiative 65.

There are further questions as to how this will effect initiatives brought forward after Mississippi went from five to four congressional districts: Voter ID and Eminent Domain. Farm Bureau is researching the impacts and the best way forward to protect private property rights related to the eminent domain initiative.