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Local named president of national organization: NARRC supports agriculture through grants, loans, scholarships

Brookhaven local Harold Gary is looking at a promotion — to president of the National Association of Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting agriculture through grants, loans and scholarships to potential farmers and land-owners.11-11-15-harold-garry-edited2

“[It] is a volunteer organization that we serve throughout the nation [for] landowners that cannot secure finances for various reasons to buy land to increase their production,” Gary said. “I’ve been on the board of directors for Mississippi for about 16 years.”

NARRC has 29 member states, spanning from Florida to Alaska, each with their own goals. Since 1986 Mississippi Rural Rehabilitation Center has bought 432 bulls for students with Future Farmers of America. It also provide loans for farmers, but Gary emphasized that they weren’t in competition with banks.

“If they can get a loan with a bank, generally we won’t give them a loan,” Gary said. “We help people who can’t help themselves.”

In Lincoln County, Gary said he was able to provide grants to quail farmer Lynn Boyte and David Smith, a local bee keeper. Beekeepers are particularly important, according to Gary.

“If every honey bee fell dead this morning, we’d starve to death. We would,” Gary said. “They pollinate all the food, all the corn and soy beans. They pollinate everything. But they’re having a hard time right now, and that’s the reason we gave grants for people that get a few hives, because disease and insects and parasites are wiping them out.”

Gary said he hopes to get a state-wide program going that would provide grants to potential beekeepers. He also said that while people may say Mississippi is bottom-of-the-list in many things, it’s a leader in agriculture.

“I’m going to promote Mississippi agriculture,” Gary said. “I’m going to promote Mississippi. We rank high in poultry production. We’re No. 1 in catfish production in the nation. We’re in the top 10 in forestry production. Cotton production and soybean production rank high in the nation. So agriculture is one of the strongest industries we have in Mississippi. Throughout the next two years I’ll be promoting Mississippi agriculture everywhere I go.”

Gary said he was elected as vice president during a conference in Wyoming this year, and will be elevated to president at next year’s conference taking place in Tampa, Florida.