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U.S. Senate taking a new approach to problem solving: Part III

The critics who say Congress should drastically alter or do away with farm programs need to remember the old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” says Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker.

Wicker, speaking at the Delta Council’s annual meeting in Cleveland, Miss., repeated the often-cited factoid that Americans spend less of their income on food and fiber products than the citizens of any other country.

But he also referred to another figure that is less well-known: In the 80 years since the Delta Council came into being in 1935, that figure has dropped from 44 percent or nearly half of a family’s income to only 16 percent.

“Here’s the point: When something is working you stick with it, and I’m happy to stick with it and stand with Sen. Thad Cochran in supporting Mississippi’s farmers and consumers from supporting the farm bill to fighting onerous EPA regulations,” he said, . “And when I talk about those regulations that includes the administration’s proposal to expand the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule.”

Wicker said he strongly opposes the rule announced by the Obama administration earlier in the week of the Delta Council meeting (May 29). “I think it is misguided and costly and it doesn’t get us anywhere, and you can be sure there is a bipartisan group in Washington, D.C. who will continue to challenge it.”

The senator said he also strongly opposes threats to “our reputable, quality-controlled catfish industry.

“You may have heard about an effort on the Senate floor recently that would have opened the door to unsafe, uninspected Vietnamese catfish imports,” he noted. “Sen. Cochran and I fought against it, and we won again. We probably will have to fight the fight over and over.”

“Our simple message will always be this: If someone wants to sell farm-raised catfish to Americans, let them use the same safety precautions that we use here in Mississippi,” Wicker said. “So we have victories, and I’m confident there will be more victories in store for the Mississippi Delta.”

That’s especially true in the area of technology, where Mississippi is rapidly changing and adapting to new ways of doing things.

“Now the governor touched on this,” said Wicker, who at the start of his speech jokingly admonished Gov. Phil Bryant for covering many of the topics he planned to discuss. “But he didn’t say it this way – the sky is the limit and when we say the sky is the limit we mean it literally with GPS satellites and unmanned aircraft collecting data for our farmers to use to produce more bountiful harvests.”

Wicker noted that Mississippi State University is the new home of the National Center for Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. With 20 universities involved, Mississippi State is in charge of the National Center of Excellence.

“It will spearhead research to advance cutting edge technology,” Wicker said. “It is only a matter of time before the precision ag industry takes a quantum leap with Mississippi State and Mississippians in the lead.”

For more on the new Center of Excellence, visit


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