Delta State University hosted the 84th Annual Delta Council Meeting on Friday, June 7. As of this spring, all Delta and parchial Delta counties in Mississippi are members of the Delta Council. This year’s topics of discussion focused on two main points: infrastructure and water.
The chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service, David Abney, spoke about the availability and security of infrastructure. Not only was he speaking of roadways, but also technology and other resources. He said we are living in the 21st century, businesspeople can now compete globally and stay local. With the proper use of technology, a farmer based in the heart of the Delta can do just as well as anyone else in the world. Abney also discussed the availability and security of quality roadways, including ideas to reduce the number of route delays and the amount of maintenance required on vehicles.
Mississippi’s Delta has experienced great flooding this spring. Some rivers in the Delta reached flood stage in early February, and some are still in flood stage today. According to rain predictions, there will be large land areas that will continue to be flooded for another month or more. Backwater flooding contributed to most of the 500,000 acres of land that were underwater as of March 21, causing Governor Phil Bryant to declare a state of emergency. Governor Bryant attended the council meeting.
As a native of the Delta, Governor Bryant said he understands the impact of agriculture and agribusiness have on Mississippi’s economy and how much of that is influenced by the Delta. He earned a standing ovation when he declared that by the end of his term, he would have pumping stations at every floodgate along the Mississippi River in hopes that if extreme flooding from the river or backwaters should ever happen again, Mississippi and the Delta will be better prepared.
The Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer is the source of most of the groundwater used in Mississippi for crop irrigation, and its status continues to be an important topic. Several speakers mentioned the aquifer during their time on stage. All praised it as a great resource to Mississippi agriculture, but they also made audience members aware of its diminishing levels.
Groundwater is the earth’s most extracted raw material, and about 70% of all groundwater extractions are used to support agricultural irrigation. The MRVAA water level drops every time water is pumped from a well that is supported by it. Managing your farm’s irrigation practices does more than protect the MRVAA. Research supported by the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board shows how well-managed irrigation will help to increase producer profit and yield potential, while also reducing the drawdown of the MRVAA. Since many farmers throughout the Mississippi River Basin use the MRVAA to supply the water used for their irrigation, the conservation of the MRVAA as a water source for that irrigation is imperative. Sharing knowledge is the best way to help preserve the MRVAA for years to come.
Speaking to a fellow farmer at the 84th Annual Delta Council meeting, MSPB member Reese Pillow said it best: “At the end of the day, all we can do is make the best decision with the information we have.”