The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation serves as the largest and strongest general farm organization in Mississippi, with more than 180,000 member families in 82 county Farm Bureaus. Since its inception in 1922, the purpose of MFBF has been to provide a unified voice for Mississippi agriculture in the legislative arena, promote farm markets and serve as a leader in the state’s agricultural community on local, state, national and international levels.

In order to steer the organization in the right direction, MFBF members elect an Executive Committee comprised of the president, three vice presidents, state Women’s Leadership Committee chair and state Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee chair. The members of this committee vary in age, geographic region of the state and commodities they farm, but all strive to fulfill the organization’s mission of creating an environment in which Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and Farm Bureau members can have a better life and make a better living.

Take a look at this Q&A session with the 2021 Executive Committee to learn more about them.

Mike McCormick, President

How have you incorporated technology on your farm?

I use a lot of GPS technology on my farm to apply fertilizers and chemicals. It’s extremely important to protect the environment, but it’s also important for me to protect my pocketbook. So, when I’m putting out less fertilizer and less chemicals, it’s great for the environment, it’s great for my farm, and it makes me more profitable.

What advice would you give to farmers younger than you?

In the next 20 years, young farmers will have wonderful opportunities to acquire farmland, because 70% of the United States’ farmland is going to change ownership. Take advantage of this. Also, be willing to learn from older farmers. The way we run our operations may be different, but farming is a hard business, and no matter how old you are, that hasn’t changed. These older farmers can teach you what endurance means.

What would you say to a farming friend experiencing poor mental health?

Farmers take a lot of pride in our farms and in our way of life. I think most people outside of the farming industry don’t understand how difficult what we do is every day. It’s easy to work yourself into a dark place and hide your emotions from your family. Please, if you are experiencing poor mental health, reach out to someone, whether it be a friend, doctor or even someone at Farm Bureau. Don’t suffer in silence. Go talk to somebody and talk through it, because it will be okay.

Donald Gant, North Mississippi Vice President

How have you incorporated technology on your farm?

The better question is – where on our farm haven’t we incorporated technology? We have tractors that drive themselves using a satellite, we use technology to improve our soil, and so on. We try to use as much technology as we can to farm more efficiently and sustainably. Since incorporating more technology, we have had better crop years.

What advice would you give to farmers younger than you?

Don’t get too far into debt, but be willing to take a chance here and there. Try different things and be willing to change how you do something for the better.

What would you say to a farming friend experiencing poor mental health?

If you look back on history, one thing that stands out about farmers is their pride. They have so much pride, it is hard for them to ask anybody for help, much less help when they are experiencing a mental health issue. I think that at some point in everyone’s lives, they could have stood to get some mental health help. That may look different for everybody, but the main thing to remember is don’t keep whatever is going on hung up if you can’t handle it. Go talk to somebody.

Ted Kendall IV, Central Mississippi Vice President

How have you incorporated technology on your farm?

New technology is developed every day. With it, farming productivity is increasing because we are becoming more efficient. We have incorporated just about every technological advance on our farm as you can. Although technology has been a plus for the farming community, it has come with its own set of challenges, especially when referring to the rural broadband it takes to power some of the technologically advanced equipment.

What advice would you give to farmers younger than you?

I would tell young farmers to be involved in as many things as they can, especially groups like Farm Bureau, that are advocating for them in lots of different ways. Also, just know, hard times are going to come. It is imperative you do as much advance planning as you can, all while keeping your head down and persevering.

What would you say to a farming friend experiencing poor mental health?

Farming is a stressful occupation. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. It’s easier said than done, but try not to take your work home with you and keep your farming job from conquering you 24/7.

Robert Earl McGehee, South Mississippi Vice President

How have you incorporated technology on your farm?

I am inseparable from my phone and iPad. Those two devices have improved my ability to farm immensely. I do not have to leave the field to find equipment parts or look up information I need. Up and coming farmers have access to so much more technology than when I started, so I encourage them to take full advantage of it.

What advice would you give to farmers younger than you?

I would tell young farmers to get active in Farm Bureau and the Young Farmers & Ranchers program. We have a lot to offer. Farming is not the easiest occupation, so it’s normal to need help. We want to be there to help you.

What would you say to a farming friend experiencing poor mental health?

Poor mental health is becoming a big issue in the farming community. Since mental health is such a hard subject to approach, we have a tendency to want to look the other way. We don’t need to do that. We need to acknowledge that this is a problem within our world today so that we can possibly save some lives. I encourage anyone experiencing poor mental health to seek out help.

Betty Mills, State Women’s Leadership Committee Chair

How have you incorporated technology on your farm?

When my husband and I began farming, we did not have the technology they do now. When my son and grandson started, they incorporated all kinds of technology that helps them cover more ground and be more accurate.

What advice would you give to farmers younger than you?

Farming is hard. It’s not for everyone. But for those tough enough to be farmers, I would encourage them to hang in there. Have a goal and a plan to reach it. Be involved with the organizations and programs, like those Extension and Farm Bureau hosts, that educate you further on what you’re doing with your farming business.

What would you say to a farming friend experiencing poor mental health?

Farming puts a lot of pressure on everyone involved. If you don’t feel right, reach out to your family or someone you trust to open up about what’s going on in your life. And above all else, pray about everything going on in your life.

Matt Hammons, State Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee Chair

How have you incorporated technology on your farm?

I run a chicken farm and my chicken houses run off a computer called a Rotem. Fifty years ago, a chicken farmer could never leave their farm because you had no idea what was going on unless you were there looking in the chicken houses. Now, the Rotems can literally do everything. They let down your equipment.  They turn your fans on.  They call you if something goes wrong. Technology gives you more freedom on the farm.

What advice would you give to farmers younger than you?

Becoming an active member of Farm Bureau is vital to the success of future generations as farmers. Farming is hard, especially for young farmers trying to get started. Being involved with an established organization like Farm Bureau and having access to their resources is imperative. I always encourage people to join and be active in their membership.

What would you say to a farming friend experiencing poor mental health?

Farming is a stressful business. There’s so much on the line trying to provide for your family and other families. That much stress and pressure can take a toll on you if you’re not careful. There is nothing wrong with that, but you definitely don’t need to deal with it alone. Don’t be ashamed to go talk to someone about your problem. You’re not the only one. It’s vital to have a good mental health state-of-mind in order to have a healthy farm.