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Rally promotes rural America efforts

Amid chants of “Save Rural America,” agriculture supporters highlighted the value of local farmers and the need to support their efforts.

     Frank Taylor, team leader for the Winston County Self Help Cooperative, said the purpose of the Save Rural America Rally was to raise the profile and visibility of small farms. Monday’s rally was held at the Greenwich Drive home of longtime farmers Robert and Anna Robinson.

     Taylor said four rallies were being held this week along the Interstate 55 corridor. One was held earlier Monday in Amite, La., and two more were scheduled for Tuesday in Grenada and Batesville.

     “We’ve got to show support for people like Mr. and Mrs. Robinson and all the other people we work with,” an enthusiastic Taylor said.

     Taylor mentioned the “three Cs” of agriculture, saying everyone is either a consumer, customer or client and some are all three. He also touted the value of knowing fruits and vegetables came from a nearby farmer as opposed to the unknown origin of those items in big box retail stores.

     Citing the Robinsons as examples, Taylor also stressed the value of hard work in the farming equation.

     “If we want to enjoy the fruits of your labor, you got to be willing to work,” Taylor said.

     Robert Robinson, who has been farming since the early 1980s, said there are a lot of do’s and don’ts in the farming business.

     “The decisions you make in the office – that is the field – determine what your crops are going to be … ,” he said. “So far, we’ve had pretty good luck with our crops.”

     Speakers at Monday’s event, which was also sponsored by the Alcorn State Cooperative Extension Service and the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, included representatives from the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Service and others.

     William Parish, FSA district manager, applauded Taylor for his efforts to promote rural America.

     “What he is doing is very important,” Parish said.

     Parish also pointed out that this is the last year for the Farm Bill and Congress is currently trying to craft a new one. Mentioning the rising prices of agricultural products, he indicated there is a perception in the public that farmers are doing well financially.

     “We all know that is not necessarily the case,” said Parish, mentioning the high price of fuel, commodities and other items that farmers themselves need to produce their crops.

      Other speakers highlighted their agencies’ services and activities. Wilson Murray, outreach specialist for NRCS, encouraged those present to join cooperative and to attend meetings to learn about more about agricultural practices and agency offerings.

     “Information is power,” Murray said.