Conservation Concerns

Lauderdale County, Miss. Soil and water conservationists from throughout central Mississippi were in Lauderdale County Thursday for an annual meeting. They represented 21 counties of the Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts.

The MACD's Central Area spans all the way from Simpson and Claiborne counties to southwest of Meridian, to Lowndes, Choctaw and Oktibbeha counties to the north.

As part of the meeting, an array of issues was discussed. This includes one of the most pressing problems for the district, which is aging levees.

According to MACD officials most of these levees are at least 50-years-old, and there's a lack funding to make needed upgrades.

"The big problem with that is that people have built in places behind these levees that used to flood, and if one of these major levees fails, it's going to be catastrophic for property and possibly human life," said MACD Central Area Vice-President, Jerry Smith.

To address this issue, he's advising residents to contact lawmakers and encourage them to provide needed funding.

Meanwhile, officials with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation also spoke to the group about the importance of Congress passing a new Farm Bill that provides price support, crop insurance and conservation programs before the current bill ends.

"I think farmers are eternally optimistic," says Samantha Newman, Public Policy Director for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. "Farmers gamble every year with seed in the ground and cattle in the field. So, I hope that we have some sort of safety net by the end of September."

The current Farm Bill was passed in 2008. It's set to expire September 30.