Two candidates want to be Ag Commissioner - - Jackson, MS

Two candidates want to be Ag Commissioner

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It's the state's regulating agency which affects every Mississippian each and every day.

And who will be in charge? It will soon be up to voters. The agriculture and commerce department will have a new face in office after November's election.

It's the state's largest industry and two candidates want to be the leader who capitalizes on what the Magnolia State has to offer when it comes to agriculture.

As part of sending their message to Mississippians, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Joel Gill are spending the next two months campaigning to become the state's next Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. Current commissioner Lester Spell isn't seeking re-election.

Hyde-Smith said, "Many people don't realize what the department of agriculture does."

Hyde-Smith, from Brookhaven, is a 12-year veteran in the Mississippi Senate and serves as the chair on the agriculture committee.

Gill serves as mayor of Pickens, Mississippi.

Both run their own cattle industry and say their personal experience would be put to good use.

"I know how the system works. I know how you get things passed. I know about the legislative budget operation," said Hyde-Smith.

Gill said, "I stress my experience, 42 years in the livestock industry, not just raising cattle, but actually owning a business."

From genetically modified food to bio-fuel, both spoke Monday on issues facing the state and for the most part agreed on many of the topics.

Gill said, "I believe that those people who want to use genetically modified crops are fine."

Hyde-Smith said, "As long as they're approved by the FDA and the information is available by the USDA that's a farmer's choice."

"I don't believe we need to be using food for our fuel." Those of us that have studied ethanol realize that's not an efficient fuel," said Gill.

Hyde-Smith said, "We just have to look at it from a very rational perspective."

For Hyde-Smith, the immediate concern for the next commissioner is the state's growing population.

She said, "Fifteen years ago one farmer fed 47 people. Today, one farmer feeds about 130 people."

While both say embracing technology is a must for higher yields, Gill says it's important to keep traditional aspects in place.

"I also want to expand farmer's markets," he adds.

As they continue to plant their campaigns across the state, both aim to harvest the most votes in November.

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