Moving into a new territory always brings a little trepidation. Where do we find good, credible contacts? Who are the ag leaders in the area? Where can I find some tasty short ribs?
As a relative newcomer to Delta agriculture — I’ve been through here a few times and met a lot of folks at meetings, but it’s still a new beat for an old reporter — getting a feel for the country is an important step.
That’s why, on my second trip to the Farm Press headquarters in Clarksdale, Miss., I asked some of our old hands for suggestions of farm contacts that might be willing to talk a bit about how they do things.
Abbott Myers, Dundee, Miss., was a good start.
Delta Farm Press editors have featured Abbott and his son Ransom in previous issues, so I’m uncertain about how to use the several pages of notes I took while we rode around the farm. I’ll do some back-issue reading and go over my notes in a few days and see what I have. But the visit was an excellent start.
Abbott is a good farmer. His primary claim is rice farmer. “It’s our business, our only business,” he says, reminding me of the old Gerber Baby Food commercial. But he’s also a fair hand at raising soybeans and corn (when the price is right).
He explained how he leveled his fields and how saving water is not just important but a significant factor in how he uses his land. He talked about Ransom and how closely they work together as equal partners and his hopes for turning management over to him some day.
We got a close up view of his grain bins, which he says offer a viable marketing strategy as well as a convenient aid at harvest season when trucks can’t keep up with combines. We climbed to the top of the newest row of elevators and enjoyed the vista of a well-tended farm, the American flag proudly flying on the other bins across the road, and we dodged some angry wasps on the way down.
“Come by anytime,” Abbott said, as I packed up my camera bag, grabbed my backpack and stuffed it into the rental car. But we weren’t done. He asked me to bring my new Southwest Farm Press staff writer, Shelley Huguley, from Olton, Texas, to the Clarksdale Country Club for dinner. We readily accepted. He pretended disappointment when Shelley showed up without cowboy boots and big belt buckle.
Dinner was good, conversation and making a new friend were better. I’d say that first farm visit offered a pretty good lay of the land.
I’m still looking for a good place for ribs.