Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s biggest goal is to promote the importance of agriculture in county courthouses all the way up to the state capitol in Jackson. County farm bureaus across the state play an integral role in doing this by reaching out to local and state lawmakers.

Rankin County Farm Bureau recently hosted their local delegation on a farm tour in an effort to accomplish this mission. With so many commodities grow and raised in Rankin County, lawmakers had the opportunity to learn about several unique operations, including Rivers Plant Farm.

Owned and operated by Bill Rivers, Rivers Plant Farm has been in operation for generations and is a major economic driver for the county.

It’s just good to let them know, if they’re not already aware, of the production agriculture that takes place right here in their county,” Rankin County Farm Bureau President Brian Rhodes said.

I think it’s extremely important for local legislators to make the connection between certain commodities and the people in their home districts,” MFBF President Mike McCormick added. “It allows them to see how important agriculture is to each county in the state.”

Compared to most counties in Mississippi, Rankin County is not considered rural, however, its economic impact through agriculture is substantial.

You don’t think of Brandon and all the big cities around Jackson as being an agricultural hub, but there is an extremely diverse agricultural community here,” McCormick added.

Gale Martin, a Rankin County Farm Bureau member, raises 1,600 cows a year on his farm, plus hundreds of acres of trees.

Rankin County is an urban county,” Martin said. “Folks don’t think of it as farmland, but agriculture contributes a lot to the economy. We don’t pay sales tax, but we do pay the ad valorem tax, and we are buying other products to run our farms, then putting what we produce back into the economy. Plus, the employment opportunities agriculture creates means a lot.”

Martin is always happy to see his local officials take an interest in agriculture.

I’m glad to have them,” he said. “Of course, I know most of the people who visited today personally. But, to have them come out, show an interest and see what is actually going on in agriculture – that means a lot.”

The legislators participating use the visits as an opportunity to refresh themselves on the issues farmers and ranchers are facing. Lee Yancey, a member of the Mississippi House who has been in the legislator for years, utilized the tour to gain information to help his constituents in the 2022 Legislative Session.

“It’s good for those of us in the legislature to know what is happening in agriculture in our own communities,” Yancey said. “It helps us to put faces with names. We want to fight for agricultural dollars, and do everything we can to make sure that our poultry, cattle and tree farmers are all getting what they need.”