During the first week of June, the Delta Council held its annual meeting. I have attended the annual meeting in Cleveland, Miss., every year since moving to the Delta and have attended the mid-year meeting in Stoneville, Miss., as well. The annual meeting is the changing of the guard for board members, a time to recognize achievements and a great catfish lunch on the lawn. It’s also the time to wear seersucker suits.
My first interaction with the Delta Council took place over 20 years ago. I was working for the National Cotton Council and traveling with some Western producers as part of the Producer Information Exchange Program.
We had lunch at the council’s headquarters in Stoneville. Executive Vice President Chip Morgan spoke to us and we were introduced to Frank Howell. I knew that the roots of the Council ran deep, but the brief time we were at the office and in the Delta didn’t give me an inkling of how involved the council was in the economic drivers of the Delta. Over the years since then, I have grown to respect the work that goes on there and have gained a deeper understanding of the breadth of the council’s work.
In addition to interacting with the council members, their mid-year meeting is where I have gained the most knowledge of what is going on in the Delta, both agronomically and economically. I’m very interested in water issues and was impressed at the depth and timeliness of many of the discussions — runoff, irrigation, aquifer depletion — here along the Mississippi.
The Santa Cruz River was the eastern boundary of our family farm, so I was rapt by the discussions of flood protection.
Transportation infrastructure is always a part of the discussion and Delta Strong, the economic development arm of the council, is recruiting industry to locate in the Delta and develop a strong workforce in the area.
The council’s involvement in research, analysis and innovation is in depth and ongoing.
This year, David Abney, native of the Mississippi Delta and CEO of United Parcel Service, spoke to the assembly at the annual meeting. He is a great example of living locally but thinking globally.
It’s a philosophy that the Delta Council perpetuates by looking after the local needs of the Delta, knowing that what we produce — agricultural goods, industrial goods, and services as well — goes out from here in to a market that is different than it was even 20 years ago and is continually evolving.
We have been able to advance here in the Delta because of the forward thinking that comes out of an organization like the council. It’s a process that will be on going and in good hands as Frank Howell has assumed the role of executive vice president. I did see, however, Chip out front in what looked like an important huddle.