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Hyde-Smith hopeful on beef plant

WESSON – The chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committeeremains optimistic that something positive can result from thefailed beef plant “debacle” in Yalobusha County.

District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments came during achamber Legislative breakfast response to a question about thepossible abolition of the state Land, Timber and Water Board, whichgave the green light to the failed project that is now costing thestate millions of dollars.

“I had serious, serious concerns about that project that werenever heard before the first nail was driven,” said Hyde-Smith,although she added that those are now “water under the bridge.”

The beef plant “mess” has prompted a bill to do away the Land,Timber and Water Board and put duties under the MississippiDevelopment Authority. Hyde-Smith said she has offered an amendmentto create an advisory council, which would not have any financialexpenditure authority, to offer input on agriculture-relatedeconomic projects.

“I don’t think we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Hyde-Smith said.

Hyde-Smith said a prospective buyer for the plant is coming tovisit the site in mid-March. She did not identify the prospectivebuyer but was hopeful that the sale would allow the plant to goback into operation.

“That’s the direction I’m headed now …,” said Hyde-Smith,citing economic development and jobs benefits of the plant, “tomake the best of the situation we can.”