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Hyde-Smith named to national agriculture panel

Mississippi’s agricultural needs will soon be whispered directlyinto attentive federal ears, thanks a national appointment of alocal farmers’ fighter.

Brookhaven’s Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who chairs the SenateAgriculture Committee, was recently appointed as vice co-chairwomanof the Agriculture and Energy Committee of the National Conferenceof State Legislatures.

In her new position as an NCSL board member, Hyde-Smith willassist in crafting the legislative research organization’srecommended national policy, which is shared with Congress annuallyin weeklong visits.

“For Mississippi, this is just another avenue to influencefederal legislation with a strong voice,” Hyde-Smith said. “NCSL isa well-respected, very strong organization, and once you’re on theexecutive board, you really have a say for your state.”

Hyde-Smith said one of her top priorities would be thedevelopment of cellulosic biodiesel, a non-petroleum fuelalternative produced from non-edible plant matter like wood.

She said the fuel has agricultural advantages over corn-basedethanol in that it doesn’t compromise food sources, provides morepower for diesel engines and is readily manufacturable.

“With the research at Mississippi State University, we’reactually using a lot of timber, and one thing we have plenty of inMississippi is pine trees,” Hyde-Smith said.

Hyde-Smith said she would also use her new position to influencelegislation that would provide more protection for landowners fromthe government’s use of eminent domain. Hyde-Smith champions theissue, and tried unsuccessfully in April to push throughlegislation that would restrict the use of eminent domain to directpublic use.

She said many states have enacted eminent domain protection lawssince the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo vs. City of NewLondon (Conn.), in which the court upheld the transfer of privateproperty for the development of a Pfizer facility.

“Being in this position really gives me more credibility – I’mdetermined to get more legislation on the books to protect propertyowners from eminent domain,” Hyde-Smith said. “This gives me accessto more research and a much bigger microphone.”

Hyde-Smith said she has long been involved with NCSL, calling onthe group often for data and advice when the Legislature is insession. She has also served on NCSL committees, but has beenunable to play a larger role due to her roles as state president ofthe American Legislative Exchange Council.

Hyde-Smith will report to a three-day NCSL officer trainingsession in Denver, Colo., beginning Oct. 3.