Mississippi House Agriculture Committee members visit Alcorn

Mississippi House Agriculture Committee members visit Alcorn

Alcorn State University recently hosted members of the Agriculture Committee of the Mississippi House of Representatives for a two-day tour that showcased the institution’s academic, service and research programs in New Hebron and Southwestern Mississippi. The tour was hosted by the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences (AREAS).

Alcorn Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marcus Ward said, “We have been working closely with the chairman and committee since the end of the 2013 session to plan a visit that would give legislators an opportunity to hear and see first-hand the great work Alcorn is doing to benefit the state. Alcorn is grateful to the members for taking time to visit, meet and tour our campus and affiliated agriculture sites.”

“At Alcorn, we believe agriculture is vital. The committee learned a great deal about the local and global impact of our current agriculture research, extension and academic programs, and our strategic plans for expansion, strengthening and growth,” Ward added.

The legislators were first shown the proposed site of the Farmers Market on The Bluff in Natchez, Mississippi. On the Lorman campus, they had a chance to watch a video about Alcorn and hear a presentation by Dr. Barry L. Bequette, dean and director of Land-Grant Programs on the many successes of the School of AREAS. The group interacted with faculty and University administrators as they toured the Experiment Station, Ecology and Natural Resources, Conservation Center, biotechnology centers, model farm as well as a goat research area.

On tour with Agriculture Committee Chair Preston E. Sullivan, District 22, Calhoun, Chickasaw and Pontotoc counties, were Vice Chair Bill Pigott – (Lamar, Marion, Pike, Walthall); Larry Byrd – (Forrest, Lamar); Deborah Butler Dixon – (Hinds); Michael T. Evans – (Kemper, Noxubee, Winston); Gregory Holloway – (Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds); Sherra Hillman Lane – (Clarke, Perry, Wayne); and Steve Massengill – (Benton, Lafayette, Marshall, Union). Also, Randy Rushing – (Neshoba, Newton, Scott);William Shirley – (Clarke, Jasper, Lauderdale, Newton); Bobby Shows – (District 89, Jones);Gary V. Staples – (Jones, Perry); Jerry R. Turner – (Lee, Prentiss); Alyce G. Clark – (District 69, Hinds) along with Alyce Horton, Agriculture Committee staff assistant.

According to Dr. Bequette, the tour was given to allow the legislators to view first-hand how Alcorn is utilizing state funding.

“The School of AREAS receives funding from taxpayers of the state of Mississippi. The Mississippi Legislature allocates the tax dollars to the School for work in research and extension. The Mississippi Legislature and the School both are accountable for the funds appropriated to us,” Bequette said. “Through showcasing the quality research and extension programs we conduct, the tour of Alcorn Agriculture provided assurance to legislators that taxpayer funds are invested wisely.”

“The legislative tour of programs in the School of AREAS was an absolute success as it provided legislators with an overview and accountability of where taxpayer money was being invested. It also stressed the importance of adequate funding for the School, and the impact we make on the citizens and economy of Mississippi,” Bequette concluded.

Chair Sullivan stated, “Its’ been a new experience. I’m impressed with the research.” He added, “I did not know we had plants that prevent migraine headaches. This research is a possible new venture for small farmers and I think things will expand.”

Vice Chair Pigott added that it was an enjoyable experience and that he would “like to see more pasture swine and pasture poultry, because it looks like it can take off.”

Rep. Holloway said, “I am a proud Alcornite, but I did not know the exten