The Future Delta event held at Stovall Gin, Stovall, Miss., on Oct. 1 was held in conjunction with the Mighty Roots Music Festival. The event was intended to recognize and gather future farm and allied business leaders in the 19-county region of the Delta that is served by the Delta Council and Delta F.A.R.M., an organization of Delta farmers advocating for resource management.
Due to the loss of population in the rural area of the Delta, the organizations are working to attract new business to the area to revitalize economic development. Delta Strong was formed as a regional branding, marketing, and business attraction program aimed exclusively toward attracting new business opportunities to the Mississippi Delta.
"Delta Strong started four years ago," said Wade Litton, chairman of Delta Strong. "We are in the fourth year of our five-year plan and we have located three major businesses to the region and have been involved in other significant projects - both new and existing companies."
The organizations have taken a proactive approach to bring more business back to the Delta as the rural population has dropped over the last 40 years.
"The Delta has a sense of urgency, because most of our communities and counties are losing population to urban and suburban locations," said Litton.
Maps provided by Delta Strong show a 24.6% population drop in the 19-county region from 1980 to 2000. From 2000 to 2020 that decrease was 20%, a total loss since 1980 of roughly 200,000 people.
Litton noted that it is important for agriculture to participate in efforts to build a stronger economic base because agriculture is going to continue to be in the Delta and can help build strong communities.
"It is our best interest to be involved and make our home a better place," he said.
The Mighty Roots Music Festival was a celebration of the music that, like agriculture, is rooted in the Mississippi mud.