School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences gear up for annual Small Farmers Conference

Alcorn State University is preparing for its annual conference that focuses on the success of small farmers.

The 29th annual Small Farmers Conference will begin Monday, Sept. 27, with a pre-conference at 10 a.m. and the general session will kick off at 1 p.m., at the BancorpSouth Arena & Conference Center in Tupelo, Miss. The conference will continue Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 8:30 a.m. with several educational and award presentations.  A virtual option to view the conference will be available.

This year’s theme is “Advancing and Transforming Small Farm Families.” The School, along with the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Farm Bureau Mississippi, and the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service are sponsoring the event.

The conference aims to provide educational resources to small farmers that will help improve their overall farm enterprises.

Gerald Jones, director of County Operations for Alcorn’s Extension Program, believes the restart of the conference will play a significant role in the success of farmers in Mississippi and surrounding areas.

“We want to ensure that farmers and landowners have an opportunity to meet with extension personnel and the USDA agencies to provide updated information as we navigate through the pandemic,” said Jones. “We want to make sure that we provide reasonable efforts to support the agriculture industry in Mississippi and the small farmers by reconnecting with farmers not only in Mississippi, but also surrounding states such as Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas.”

Terry Cosby ’82, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington, D.C., and Commissioner Brandon Presley, public service commissioner for the Northern District of Mississippi, will be the event’s keynote speakers.

Cosby began his career with the agency in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa. Terry’s roots on the land run deep. Raised on a cotton farm with his eight siblings in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, his love for the land began at an early age. The farm, now in his family for three generations, was purchased by his great-grandfather in the late 1800s.

Over Cosby’s 42 years with the agency, he has served in numerous capacities. Prior to serving as NRCS Chief, he was the Ohio State Conservationist for 16 years. He has served in numerous leadership capacities over the years including leadership positions at NRCS National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., in Iowa as an Area Resource Conservationist, in Missouri as an Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations and Idaho as a Deputy State Conservationist.

One of Cosby’s proudest achievements is the instrumental role he played in establishing the Ohio Interagency Forestry Team and in the formation of its governance model and business plan.

Elected to the Public Service Commission at age 30, Presley was the youngest Commissioner ever elected in Mississippi. Prior to his election to the Public Service Commission, he served as Mayor of Nettleton from 2001 to 2007, having been elected at the age of 23, making him one of the youngest mayors in Mississippi history.

Commissioner Presley was elected in November 2019 to serve as the President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which is composed of regulatory commissioners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. He has also served as President of the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which is composed of Public Service Commissioners from the eleven (11) Southern States and Puerto Rico. He is a member of the board of directors of NARUC and serves on multiple NARUC boards and committees. He is co-vice chair of the NARUC Committee on Gas, a member of the Committee on Telecommunications and the International Relations Committee. He is a former member of the board of directors of the National Regulatory Research Institute.

Commissioner Presley currently serves on the advisory committee for the New Mexico’s State University Center for Public Utilities and is serving his second term on the Electric Power Research Institute’s Advisory Council.

Registration fees are $25 for the virtual option and $50 for individual, $100 for couples, and $50 for vendors. Visit to register for this year’s conference.

For additional information, contact Gerald Jones, director of County Operations for Alcorn’s Extension Program, at 601-857-0250 or [email protected].