Representative Wilkes, Senator Seymour address Farm Bureau members

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2017

Update; This story has been corrected to identify Mike Seymour as a state senator. 

Newly elected District 108 Representative Stacey Wilkes attended Wednesday’s annual membership meeting of Farm Bureau to discuss some of the things she would like to accomplish during her time in office.

She said her focus will be on supporting farmers, the agriculture industry in Pearl River County and working to establish legislation that helps promote the agriculture industry.

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She also addressed the need for more vocational programs in area high schools that transfer to community colleges such as Pearl River Community College. Her concern is the high level of welding and other skilled labor jobs that go unfilled due to a lack of qualified people to fill those positions.

“You don’t have to have a four-year degree to make a good living,” Wilkes said. 

Before she works to accomplish those goals, she said her focus right now is on becoming familiar with the various agencies within the state before session begins next year.

One of the concerns she has focuses on the complaints being voiced by her constituents concerning operations within the Department of Human Services and the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services. She said that from what she’s heard so far, there’s a need for reform in those and other state agencies.

Wilkes said she would also like to reach out to representatives of the county’s local governments so everyone can work together to move the county forward.

Attendees of the meeting also heard from District 47 State Senator Mike Seymour.

His goals for the coming year will be to improve the way hospitals collect on Medicaid claims, especially when it comes to smaller hospitals like Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home.

Agriculture is also one of Seymour’s focuses, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act, which creates stricter inspection regulations for produce. He feels the new regulations will negatively affect local farmers.

“We’re trying to get Congressional delegation to repeal that,” Seymour said.

He’s also concerned about the push to make instances of animal neglect a felony. Seymour said that at times these cases involve elderly people who simply took on more animals than they could care for. Instead of making the offenses a felony, he feels the state should focus more on enforcing the law in existence.

In relation to the controversy over the state flag, Seymour said that all state and local government facilities should honor the flag the people voted on more than 16 years ago.

“Public servants don’t have the right to use their position as a political speaking point,” Seymour said.

He’s also concerned about the state’s efforts to eradicate feral hogs. Seymour said their current efforts, which include expensive traps and the possible use of poison, are expensive and could cause harm to the people who hunt the animals for food.