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Farmers storm the Capitol

Hundreds of farmers and supporters of the agriculture industry gather in the rotunda at the Mississippi Capitol last week for Ag Day.

Hundreds of farmers and supporters of the agriculture industry gather in the rotunda at the Mississippi Capitol last week for Ag Day.

Hundreds of farmers from across the state were recently in Jackson to remind any and all lawmakers that agriculture remains Mississippi’s top industry.

On March 3, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation hosted the 2nd Annual Ag Day at the State Capitol. The event featured exhibits and food as well as a chance for the agriculture community to get up close and personal with the state’s legislators.

“Farmers touch everybody’s lives everyday,” said Randy Knight, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “The Mississippi farmer is one of the most efficient and productive members of society today. This is an opportunity for us to help the public understand what they get from agriculture and what a farmer has to do to provide that.”

The event started at 9 a.m. in the rotunda of the Capitol, where farmers and supporters enjoyed food and a chance to share and network. The group subsequently went to the Senate and House chambers to hear from legislators as well as to be heard.

Certainly, farmers had plenty to discuss with lawmakers. The state’s agriculture community enjoyed a bounce-back year in 2010 after suffering devastating losses in 2009.

Randy Knight (left), president of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, and Pud Stringer, a Marion County dairy farmer, talk at Ag Day at the Capital last week.

Randy Knight (left), president of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, and Pud Stringer, a Marion County dairy farmer, talk at Ag Day at the Capital last week.

However, rising input costs and soft market prices for many commodities have producers concerned about 2011.

Pud Stringer is one of them. A dairy farmer in Marion County, Stringer suffered $150,000 in damages from Hurricane Katrina, which dealt the state’s dairy industry a severe blow.

According to Stinger, he and his peers that survived the storm (Stringer estimates that half of the state’s diary farmers were lost post-Katrina) continue to face rising costs and weak market prices.

“Folks need to know. I was just telling Randy (Knight) how critical the Mississippi Farm Bureau is to me and my industry,” Stringer said.

“We’re just here to let our legislators know what our members are doing, what it takes to be a farmer in Mississippi today,” Knight said.

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