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Today is May 30, 2020

Celebrating Mississippi’s Grown, Raised, Crafted and Made Products

“What we like about this land most of all is the sense of togetherness it gives.”
— Hodding Carter, II, 1907-1972, Mississippi Delta award-winning journalist and publisher

By Sandra M. Buckley

Celebrating Mississippi’s Grown, Raised, Crafted and Made Products

“As Mississippians, we have a great deal to be proud of, and the Genuine MS program focuses on the many things Mississippi has to offer.” 
— Andy Gipson, Missississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce 

It is “this land” – or rather the dark, rich fertile soil packed deep throughout Mississippi – that does bind us all together, especially when it reaps a fresh and hearty bounty that, in turn, we are able to enjoy together and even share on a global level. 

Thanks to this fertile land, not only is agriculture a booming, billion-dollar industry in the state, it also is responsible for nearly 30 percent of Mississippi’s workforce, either directly or indirectly. Rooted deeply in our rural areas, it currently represents more than 35,800 farms.

“Agriculture is the heart of many of our small towns and rural communities,” said Andy Gipson, Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, also a farmer himself. “My wife, Leslie, and I live on a working family farm with our four children, where we manage a cow/calf operation and tree farm.” 

As today’s lifestyle and food trends are increasingly centered around simplicity, people are more conscientious about the sustainability of their food as well as more intentional to buy from and support local businesses. Understanding the significance of this movement, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce recently launched Genuine MS, a branding program that fosters the agriculture industry in a variety of ways and includes four product classifications: Grown (crops and produce); Raised (livestock, dairy, apiary, seafood and aquaculture); Crafted (food and beverages; hand-crafted items made of agricultural or natural resources); and Made (manufactured items at least 51 percent manufactured in Mississippi).

“When a farm or business becomes a member, they are allowed to use the Genuine MS brand as a stamp of authenticity to show that their products are Grown, Raised, Crafted or Made in Mississippi,” said Gipson, explaining that members are featured on the Genuine MS website, a marketing platform that also allows consumers from around the world to find, learn about and purchase these local products online as a one-stop-shop. “The vision of Genuine MS is to show the strength and importance of agriculture locally, nationally and globally by telling the story of the dedicated farmers, crafters, entrepreneurs and manufacturers that play a part in feeding and clothing, not just our nation, but the world.” 

Genuine MS products range from fruits, vegetables, honey, mushrooms, nuts and popcorn to seafood, beef, lamb and pork and even tap into organic skincare products, bakery items, jewelry, farm equipment, timber and Christmas trees. “As Mississippians, we have a great deal to be proud of, and the Genuine MS program focuses on the many things Mississippi has to offer,” noted Gipson. 

“We also have some unique products that may not first come to mind, like flower farms that can be found near the Coast and in the Hills,” he stated. “South Mississippi is the home to a number of blueberry farms, and many don’t realize that we are ranked 9th nationally in blueberry production. Many also don’t realize that their next glass of tea could actually come from tea grown on a farm located in Poplarville or that Mississippi is one of the nation’s top rice producing states with farms that mill their rice to sell to local consumers. Genuine MS products can be found all over the state.” 

Additionally, retailers, such as restaurants, farmers markets and merchants, who sell Genuine MS products can join the program as Associate Members as a means to showcase their support. “By supporting Genuine MS, you are supporting your neighbors and communities,” Gipson said. “Local farms and businesses not only provide great products; they provide communities with jobs and economic development opportunities.” 

As Hodding Carter so eloquently acknowledged, “this land” certainly does provide us a familiar and welcomed sense of togetherness, especially when that takes the shape of homegrown goodness filling our dinner tables and discoveries of other such agriculturally-inspired products and services that call Mississippi home.

“Mississippians have a long history of being creative as well as talented – just look at the many famous writers, musicians and artists that have called Mississippi home,” added Gipson. “It is no different when you delve into those who are Growing, Raising, Crafting and Making products.” 


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