Delta Council leader Curtis Berry of Tunica (third from right), who also serves in numerous capacities of leadership in the Mississippi and national rice industry, joined other USA Rice Federation principals this week in meeting with United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (fifth from right) in Washington this week. Secretary Perdue will be the featured speaker for the 82nd Annual Meeting of Delta Council on Friday, June 9, at the Bologna Performing Arts Center in Cleveland on the campus of Delta State University.
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. Perdue made the announcement standing by barges filled with agricultural products along the banks of the Ohio River. As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Finally, Perdue announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity.
Perdue issued a report to announce the changes, which address Congressional direction in the 2014 Farm Bill to create the new undersecretary for trade and also are a down payment on President Trump’s request of his cabinet to deliver plans to improve the accountability and customer service provided by departments.
“Food is a noble thing to trade. This nation has a great story to tell and we’ve got producers here that produce more than we can consume,” said Secretary Perdue. “And that’s good, because I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy. Our people in American agriculture have shown they can grow it, and we’re here to sell it in markets all around the world.”
Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs
Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy as a whole. U.S. agricultural and food exports account for 20 percent of the value of production, and every dollar of these exports creates another $1.27 in business activity. Additionally, every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs across the entire American economy. As the global marketplace becomes even more competitive every day, the United States must position itself in the best way possible to retain its standing as a world leader.
“Our plan to establish an undersecretary for trade fits right in line with my goal to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world. By working side by side with our U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the USDA undersecretary for trade will ensure that American producers are well equipped to sell their products and feed the world,” Perdue said.
USDA’s reorganization seeks to place agencies in more logical order. Under the existing structure, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which deals with overseas markets, and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which handles domestic issues, were housed under one mission area, along with the Risk Management Agency (RMA). It makes much more sense to situate FAS under the new undersecretary for trade, where staff can sharpen their focus on foreign markets.
Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation
Additionally, a new undersecretary will be selected for a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which is to focus on domestic agricultural issues. Locating FSA, RMA, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service under this domestically-oriented undersecretary will provide a simplified one-stop shop for USDA’s primary customers, the men and women farming, ranching, and foresting across America.
“The men and women of American agriculture are hardy people, many of whom were born into the calling of feeding America and the world,” Perdue said. “Their efforts are appreciated, and this adjustment to the USDA structure will help us help them in even better ways than before.”
Under the reorganization plan, the undersecretary for natural resources and environment will retain supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. A reduction in USDA workforce is not part of the reorganization plan.
Drop-off collection sites for pharmaceutical waste available
By Becky Gillette
There are growing environmental concerns about the improper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs and household personal care products, said Robbie Wilbur, communications director for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
“MDEQ encourages the proper management of pharmaceutical wastes and discourages flushing of household medications and other similar products down the toilet or sink,” Wilbur said. “MDEQ helps promotes the biannual collection events sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA works with numerous local law enforcement agencies throughout Mississippi and the country to host local one-day collection events for prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals. “
Also, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety provides drop-off collection sites for prescription drugs and expired pharmaceutical wastes at the agency’s Driver’s License offices.
“MDEQ has developed a brochure promoting the program and the various drop-off locations are available on the MDEQ website and distributed at various health fairs and public events,” Wilbur said. “The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is April 29.”
Residents can bring unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and other similar medicinal items (liquid or solid form) to any of the participating locations so the drugs may be disposed of safely.
Unused prescription drugs are not just a danger to the environment and drinking water supplies, but also to people in the household who have access to the medicines. There is particular concern with potential of opiate painkillers to start with someone taking medicine prescribed to another person in the household.
According to the DEA, the majority of prescription drug abusers report in surveys that they get their drugs from friends and family.
“Americans understand that cleaning out old prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, and bedside tables reduces accidents, thefts, and the misuse and abuse of these medicines, including the opioid painkillers that accounted for 20,808 drug overdoses—78 a day—in 2014 (the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” the DEA said. “Eight out of 10 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers and moved to heroin when they could no longer obtain or afford those painkillers.”
There are indications are that more and more Americans are participating in the drug take-back programs. In 2016 Americans turned in a record amount of unwanted medicines, almost 447 tons compared to a previous high of 390 tons in the spring of 2014. That included 4,494 pounds of drugs collected in Mississippi. There were about 5,400 drug take back sites across the country.
“These results show that more Americans than ever are taking the important step of cleaning out their medicine cabinets and making homes safe from potential prescription drug abuse or theft,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “Unwanted, expired or unused prescription medications are often an unintended catalyst for addiction. Take-back events like these raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and offer the public a safe and anonymous way to help prevent substance abuse.”
The Associated Press has reported that a large number of different types of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. AP said that while utilities say the tiny concentrations of these chemical are not of concern, the presence of so many prescription and non-prescription drugs is causing concerns among scientists about long-term consequences to human health.
Dr. Calvin White to speak April 9
Delta State University is gearing up for the 20th annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture on April 6 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.
The 2017 lecturer is Dr. Calvin White Jr., associate professor of history and chair of the history department at the University of Arkansas. White’s talk is entitled, “Standing at the Vanguard: Oscar Stanton De Priest, A Black Congressmen Amongst White Segregationists.”
The Cranford Lecture is sponsored by the Delta State Division of Social Sciences and History and is supported by a generous grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. The DSU Quality Enhancement Plan is also providing support for the lecture, which honors the life of Dr. Sammy Orren Cranford, longtime history professor and archivist at Delta State. The event is free and open to the public.
White is a native of Stuttgart, Arkansas, and earned his doctorate in history from the University of Mississippi. He is the author of “The Rise to Respectability: Race, Religion, and the Church of God in Christ,” published in 2012 by the University of Arkansas Press.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. White deliver this year’s Cranford Lecture,” said Dr. Charles Westmoreland, Jr., Delta State assistant professor of history and coordinator of the Cranford Lecture. “He is a leading scholar in the fields of African American and southern religious history. His book on the Church of God in Christ provides tremendous insight into the connections between race, religion, and class in the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta.”
White’s current project and subject for this year’s lecture is Oscar De Priest, a civil rights advocate from Chicago and U.S. Representative from 1929-1935. According to Westmoreland, White’s lecture will explore Congressman De Priest’s story and the myriad ways race intersected with local and national politics in the age of Jim Crow.
“It will be a great time for learning and honoring Dr. Sammy Cranford, one of Delta State’s most distinguished faculty members,” said Westmoreland. “For 20 years, the Cranford Lecture has been a signature event at Delta State. We have been fortunate to feature many great historians and speakers over the years, and 2017 will be no exception.”
Previous lecturers include: 1998, John Marzalek; 1999, John Ray Skates; 2000, James Cobb; 2001, Martha Swain; 2002, Lawrence Nelson; 2003, Nan Woodruff; 2004, David Sansing; 2005, Charles Reagan Wilson; 2006, James Hollandsworth; 2007, Elbert Hilliard; 2008, Larry Griffin; 2009, William LaForge; 2010, Chris Myers Asch; 2011, Charles Eagles; 2012, George Rable; 2013, Jeannie Whayne; 2014, Tim Huebner; 2015, Alecia Long; 2016, Aram Goudsouzian.
For more information on the Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture, contact Westmoreland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pelicia Hall will oversee 3 state prisons and more than 2,200 employees
Gov. Phil Bryant recently announced the appointment Pelicia Hall commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Hall replaces Marshall Fisher, who was recently appointed commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Hall has served as interim MDOC commissioner since late January.
Previously, Hall served as Fisher’s chief of staff. In her role as commissioner, Hall will oversee more than 2,200 employees, three state prisons, three private prisons, 15 regional facilities, 10 community work centers, three technical violation centers and four restitution centers.
“Pelicia’s previous experience within the Department of Corrections has made it clear that she is the perfect choice to lead the agency,” Gov. Bryant said. “I know she will continue her outstanding service to the people of Mississippi, and I am delighted she has agreed to accept this appointment.”
Hall is former lead counsel for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. She has 15 years of legal experience in the government and private sectors in a wide variety of disciplines. She has litigated cases in federal and state courts and served as both a special assistant United States attorney and as a special assistant attorney general with the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General. The MDOC was one of the agencies she represented during her nearly three years as a state attorney.
Hall assumed the state position after six years with the private Jackson law firm of Page, Kruger & Holland, where she litigated cases involving personal injury claims, employment discrimination, contract disputes, products liability, premises liability, insurance coverage and general tort litigation.
She learned about both civil and criminal matters as a law clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and Hinds County Circuit Court. Hall clerked two years for Circuit Judge Tomie Green.
A graduate of Mississippi College School of Law, Hall was the recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award in Real Estate Finance & Development. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Alcorn State University, where she graduated cum laude in political science.
Hall is admitted to practice in Mississippi and before the United States Court of Appeals and the United States District Court. She is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, National Bar Association, Magnolia Bar Association, Capital Area Bar Association, Mississippi Women Lawyers Association and the American Bar Association.
Named “Hospital of the Year” by Mississippi Nurses Association
By Angela Rogalski
The Mississippi Nurses’ Association and the Mississippi Nurses’ Foundation recognized North Sunflower Medical Center, March 6 as their Hospital of the Year. The Nightingale Awards are the highest honor that the Nurses’ Association and Foundation gives. CEO Sam Miller said receiving the award was the result of a team effort on the part of every member of North Sunflower.
“Of course, we’re proud of every member of the North Sunflower family,” Miller said. “We value the commitment they make to provide the best care anywhere. Awards like this are a team effort, and the honor is spread equally throughout the entire community. We know that nurses are most often on the front lines of providing quality health care and personalized service. The commitment and sacrifice to help others is an inspiration to me and everyone else who works here.”
The Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing are inclusive of all health care settings: hospitals, home health care, health centers, schools, health departments, long-term care facilities, nursing schools, agencies, and medical practices. Miller said the Nightingale Awards consist of many different awards.
“Hospital of the Year is one among many that were awarded that night,” he added. “And receiving this award was absolutely a team effort; I can’t stress that enough. Clinical staff, nursing staff and physicians, and we have the best and most wonderful patients in the world. We are very blessed to be in the Delta, and to do what we do. We were nominated for a series of classes and processes involving innovation in nursing leadership.”
Miller said it actually all started a few years ago with Debbie Logan when she nominated North Sunflower for the award.
“Debbie works for the Office of Nursing Workforce,” Miller said. “A few years ago we had talked about classes, leadership, education and lifelong learning classes for nursing and clinical staffs, and we were blessed to get a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant. We teamed with the Mississippi Nursing Association and assisted in putting on a series of classes throughout the state. Those would include Advanced Nursing Practices, which were done internally with us and we are continuing that process today. Debbie Logan was instrumental in helping us start that.”
Miller said many nurses took advantage of the classes, as they were averaging 40 to 50 in a group.
“One of the grants that we received was a matching grant,” he added. “And when we committed to doing it, we did it locally in our hospital, but it also affected a group of classes that the Mississippi Nurses Association had throughout the state, and Debbie Logan was one of the principal people involved in that. She helped set that up, so it benefited not just North Sunflower, but a lot of other areas also.”
Miller said they were so grateful and blessed by the Nightingale Award of Hospital of the Year, because North Sunflower recognized how many other great providers were in the Delta.
“They are many wonderful providers in the Mississippi Delta,” Miller said. “We’re very thankful for the honor and we try very hard to be one of the best providers in the Delta. In addition, my thoughts when it comes to nursing education, or any medical education, are in lifelong learning. So, the program continues and we’re very proud to be a part of it.”