Below is an article I recently penned, that was published just last week in the Mississippi Association of Supervisors statewide magazine. For all our Mississippians who live in the country like us, I felt you might like to read it, too. Thanks, Andy G.
GRATEFUL TO SERVE AS YOUR AG AND COMMERCE COMMISSIONER
It was with great enthusiasm I was honored to accept Gov. Phil Bryant’s appointment to serve as your Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce several months ago. I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce (in some cases reintroduce) myself to you and say a sincere “thank you” for the opportunity to serve you and our constituents in this role. Mississippi agriculture is very important to me personally, and I know how important it is to you as Supervisors serving our common constituency of rural Mississippians all over the State.
I was born and raised on a small farm in rural Rankin County and graduated from Brandon High School. In the summer between high school and college, I built a cabin on our family farm in Simpson County where I lived during my college and law school education. In my teenage years, I started raising cows and over time developed a cow/calf operation which has continued through today. My wife, Leslie and I were married in 2001, and in 2004, we were able to purchase a farm of our own in Simpson County where we still raise commercial cattle, timber, as well as our four children, Joseph (13), Benjamin (12), Abigail (10), and Sarah (7). We are grateful to live and work on the farm, and we have no plans to move until we move to heaven! A graduate of Mississippi College (majoring in Christian Studies and History/Political Science) and MC School of Law, I surrendered to preach in 2010 and for seven years served as bi-vocational pastor of a small church, Gum Springs Baptist Church. I still preach every Sunday.
For nearly twelve years, I had the honor and privilege to serve as State Representative in the Mississippi Legislature representing District 77, Rankin, Simpson, and Smith Counties. During that time I served on the Agriculture, Ways and Means, and Appropriations Committees among many others. Most recently I served as chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee and the House Ethics Committee. As chairman, I had the opportunity to lead on many issues affecting Mississippi agriculture, such as passing the Landowner Protection Act through our committee in 2016. Throughout my years in the legislature, I fought many battles to help protect the rights of Mississippi farmers and ranchers on issues such as eminent domain, landowner rights, fewer regulations, and lower taxes. I was named Conservative Legislator of the Year in 2012 and again in 2018 for my work on pro-life and Second Amendment issues. In 2013, I received the NRA’s highest award, the Defender of Freedom Award, and the Central MS Friends of NRA’s Kirk Fordice Freedom Award.
Now I have the opportunity to be a strong voice for Mississippi’s rural communities, our farmers and ranchers and our rural way of life. My family and I are very eager to help build upon the strong foundation of Mississippi agriculture, and we are actively exploring ways to further strengthen agriculture as the largest industry of our State. We want to see Mississippi agriculture and commerce grow and thrive for the next generation, and we are working hard to reach that goal. To learn as much as possible, I’ve travelled nearly the entire State, listening to farmers, ranchers and landowners and developing an aggressive plan for going forward.
One of the major initiatives we recently launched is the Genuine Mississippi branding and marketing campaign which you can find at www.genuinems.com, and on social media. I’m proud to be a lifelong Mississippian and very excited to promote everything “Grown, Raised, Crafted and Made” right here in the Magnolia State! You can help by letting your local farmers and businesses know about this program which we are using to promote buying local. It not only helps our producers and consumers, but also helps our local rural communities by keeping dollars local.
It was during my service in the Legislature I came to appreciate the invaluable services and leadership our local Boards of Supervisors provide in ways that impact our mutual constituents every day. I was honored to serve on the House County Affairs Committee several years. Local roads and bridges are key to agriculture and commerce. We simply must have quality rural infrastructure to get the crops and livestock to market! For the last three years in the Legislature, I advocated for diversion of more road and bridge funding to local counties to address the real infrastructure issues at the local level. During the Special Session this summer, as Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner I took that same message back to the Capitol and was pleased to see the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker and the House and Senate unified on that front. I was very glad to see the passage of a meaningful local rural and county road and bridge program that will be funded with a level of certainty for decades to come.
Living in the country, my family and I also know the importance of rural broadband availability. I expect we will see some activity on this front during the coming Regular Session in 2019. While the legislative agenda of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce will be limited, I plan to be around the Capitol during session, helping everywhere I can for all our citizens.
Meanwhile, if I can be of any assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at (601) 359-1198 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leslie, the kids, and I want to thank you for this opportunity to serve you, your counties, and all the people of our wonderful State. If I haven’t already, I certainly hope to see you soon, and I am very eager to continue serving and working alongside you as your Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce for a long, long time to come.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce