Farmers rally to be held at local farm

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Organizers are asking people to bring their voices, noisemakers and cowbells to celebrate rural farmers during the Save Rural America Rally in Lincoln County.

Winston County Self Help Cooperative is hosting the event, which is taking place Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at Robert Robinson’s farm at 353 Greenwich Drive. The WCSHC, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Alcorn State University Extension Service is sponsoring the event.

Frank Taylor, president of the WCSHC, said the event will raise awareness about local farmers who provides families with fresh produce and food. He said these farmers help create sustainability in rural communities through jobs and tax dividends as well as helping build viable communities in cities and counties.

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Started in 2012 the rally’s main focus is to thank local farmers for what they provide to local homes and families. Taylor said since 2012 they’ve tried to hold four rallies a year but this year this will be the only rally hosted by WCSHC.

Taylor said the event is being held at Robinson Farms because of Robinson’s legendary status among farmers, the quality of vegetables and produce he grows and his location in central Mississippi. Robinson Farms was the site for the first rally in 2012.

Representatives from Farm Service Agency and U.S. Rural Development will be present at the event as well as some local elected officials and a representative from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Kurt Readus, a state conservationist at NRCS, said rallies and other events like this give him a chance to start conversations about issues affecting Mississippi agricultural conservation. Some such issues are those focusing on water quality and the effect of the intense rain the state has been having on the amount of sediment in the water.

Readus said NRCS also provides financial and technical assistance for farmers and others in agriculture via programs through the service. Such programs are the Agricultural Conservation Easement, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Conservation Stewardess Program. Readus said these and other programs are available to farmers in the state.

“We are also encouraging non-farmers to become farmers,” Readus said.

He described how NRCS is the only government agency to work on private land, giving them the ability to work with many farmers throughout the state.

“Agriculture is 30 percent of the state’s economy, which translates to about $8 billion,” Readus said. “Agritourism contributes $3.5 billion.”