Rural America Tour swings through Delta

The 2007 Rural America Tour, a Farm Foundation project, stopped at the Delta Council, in Stoneville, Miss., on Aug. 8. The tour, led by Under Secretary of Rural Development Thomas Dorr and former U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm, D-Texas, was a spotlight on rural communities in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

“The Rural America Tour’s intent is to give us an opportunity to meet farm and agricultural business leaders at the local and national levels,” said Dorr. The tour gave prominence to communities working to improve rural economies and quality of life, through private resources and government programs.

Approximately 50 representatives from trade organizations, agricultural and commodity groups, and non-government organizations related to education, health care, infrastructure and rural economic issues, participated in the three-day event.

The Delta Council stop featured four speakers. Cass Pennington and Karen Fox from Delta Health Alliance spoke on a variety of medical issues faced by rural Delta citizens. Mississippi Farm Bureau President David Waide addressed new technology emerging in agribusiness, and Delta Council Executive Vice-President Chip Morgan detailed the council’s role in Mississippi’s thriving agricultural economy.

Founded in 1935, Delta Council is an economic development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. Headquartered in Stoneville, the council fosters and promotes growth in the Delta economy.

“Change is inevitable. Delta Council since 1935 — Farm Bureau too — we’re not here to stop change. We better be change-agents. So what we do is identify problems and opportunities and challenges early enough that we can participate in that change with local people,” said Morgan.

The 2007 tour is a collaborative effort by the Farm Foundation, Southern Regional Development Center, and USDA Rural Development. Co-sponsors include the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Farm Bureau, Winrock International, Mississippi Farm Bureau, Southern Bancorp, and Riceland Foods.

The Farm Foundation, established in 1933, attempts to improve the economic and social well-being of U.S. agriculture, the food system and rural communities. The publicly funded, nonprofit foundation also addresses economic and policy issues significant across the face of agriculture and rural America — regardless of geographic, livestock or crop boundaries.

The tour began and concluded in Memphis, Tenn., with stops at Bolivar, Tenn.; Helena, Ark.; Stoneville; and Greenwood, Miss.

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