Hyde-Smith touts role of agriculture during FFA meeting

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Loyd Star Future Farmers of America celebrated a successful year Tuesday night with a banquet at the school.

     The event featured state Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith, a former state senator from Brookhaven, as well as the presentation of awards for students.

     Hyde-Smith talked about the importance of agriculture in her time in front of the audience. She played up the quality of life in a rural area and gave insight into how agriculture works at the state level.

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     Hyde-Smith pointed out that 2 percent of the population in the United States works to feed the other 98 percent.

     “But most people have no idea of how food gets to them,” she said. “It never occurs to them what farmers are doing to get them that food to them.”     Hyde-Smith said that Americans have the safest food supply in the world, thanks to work done by regulators to ensure that safety.

     The Department of Agriculture and Commerce is the state agency that regulates gasoline to make sure a full gallon comes out of the pump for the price paid per gallon.

     “We tested 80,000 gasoline pumps last year,” Hyde-Smith said.

     Hyde-Smith finished by touting agritourism in Mississippi and encouraging young people to get involved in the political process.

     Loyd Star agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Billy Sumrall said the banquet was the first held at the school in a while.

     “The FFA has been growing here at Loyd Star,” Sumrall said. “We were up to 42 students for this school year.”

     He said that having the state commissioner of agriculture and commerce there was the icing on the cake.

     “She’s from the area and is a strong advocate for agriculture,” said Sumrall.

     Sumrall said he hopes the students build character and leadership from their time in the FFA.

     “With those things come responsibility and doing the right thing,” he said. “I just want them to become productive citizens.”

     Nine of the FFA students have started their own goat herd to be used as project animals. They also have a poultry project with hens.

     Sumrall said sometimes teachers have to look outside the box for teaching moments, and the FFA provides that.

     Sumrall knows his students will go in a variety of directions once they graduate, but he hopes he instills in them responsibility, work ethic and character for students to take along.