Monday, May 13, 2019

Commissioner Andy Gipson: Outside Interests Mobilizing Against Mississippi's Working Forests

Should out-of-state interests decide what’s best for a rural Mississippi town of about 3,000 people, or should the local community decide?

You’d think the answer to that question would be obvious, but for an outspoken eco-group from North Carolina, the town of Lucedale should not be able to decide its own destiny.

The heart of the dispute? Mississippi’s second largest ag industry; our growing forest products industry – a potential economic boon for our state.

Today, wood products are becoming more prevalent in our daily lives. From sustainable wood buildings to paper packaging needed for e-commerce giants like Amazon, to wood pellets, a growing form of renewable energy, wood is increasingly in demand.

With plentiful, well-managed forests, Mississippi is well-positioned to benefit from this and gain hundreds if not thousands of new jobs. That is, unless a group of largely out-of-state interests has its way.

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the group calls themselves the “Dogwood Alliance” – and they’re against pretty much anything that comes from the forest.

In March, the group’s Executive Director penned an op-ed in The Hill, a Washington D.C. publication, arguing against using trees for building products, paper, packaging, or energy. They effectively oppose the entire forest products industry, which supports more than 2 million jobs nationwide.

Now, they’re coming here.

This month, Dogwood and their out-of-state allies will travel to Mississippi to protest the construction of a renewable wood energy facility in Lucedale set to create 100 direct jobs and hundreds more indirect and related jobs in George County, while increasing earning potential for local landowners.

Dogwood’s efforts are misguided – both from an economic and even an environmental perspective. We’ve seen this move before in Mississippi – out-of-state interests from wealthy cities traveling to Mississippi to protest jobs in our small towns.

While Asheville, North Carolina, may not need 100 new jobs, we want them here in Mississippi, particularly in rural Mississippi. Gaining investment in the talented people and growing economic engine of Mississippi should be a top priority for our local and national leaders. Throwing up roadblocks to new jobs isn’t just unhelpful; it’s an immoral harm to those who are most in need in our rural communities.

In George County, for example, the unemployment rate is nearly twice as high as Asheville’s. Simply put, we need the jobs supplied by the forest products industry. In fact, working forests support over 47,000 jobs in Mississippi and a payroll of more than $1.7 billion.

But this isn’t just an economic win. It’s also a win for our environment. Mississippi, like other Southeastern states, has high standards for sustainable forestry practices. Because of this, we actually have more trees today – not less. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the total volume of trees grown in the U.S. Southeast has increased by 50 percent over the last 50 years, and today, private forest owners are growing 40 percent more wood than they remove every year. The reality is that a strong market for forest products ensures that landowners keep planting trees.

While these out-of-state activists may live in a place that doesn’t need or want forest industry jobs, we know better here in Mississippi. Let’s continue finding ways to sustainably harness our abundant natural resources and grow our rural economy, providing more opportunities for all Mississippians.

Mr. Gipson is the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture. 


Anonymous said...

Ok Put your money where your mouth is... grow hemp!

Anonymous said...

When do these interlopers plan to protest in Lucedale? I would love to go down and let them know they need to mind their own business back in North Carolina. We never went up there to protest all the deadly tobacco fields they have. Damn (almost) Yankees!

Anonymous said...

I’d love to get as much help as we can from out of state. Anyone could do a better job managing this state than we can and that’s been proven 100 times over.

Anonymous said...

People go go Asheville to look at trees. They don’t do the same in MS

Anonymous said...

Good God, how much money did some campaign advisory firm make on that one? And who on Gods green earth cares? This is a case of too much campaign funds to spend on useless sh+*

Anonymous said...

Has Andy accepted any campaign contributions from out of state? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Every time I see a piece like this from a Mississippi politician that is short on facts and big on politicized bs, I always wonder just how many vacations and campaign donations it takes to get them to publish crap like this.

Anonymous said...

Aren’t there a couple of these pellet plants idle now? Let’s at least make sure this ain’t another beef plant fiasco....

Anonymous said...

Every time I see a piece like this from a Mississippi politician that is short on facts ...

Identify the facts, or supposed facts, that are erroneous. Put up.

Anonymous said...

For the thousands of Mississippians who own timber land this is a big deal. I’m sorry youre to poor to be invested.

Anonymous said...

Timber prices are at an all time low.

Everybody bought land 50 years ago and planted their retirement.

Now there is a glut of trees and prices are abysmal.

Large tracts of timber land are being sold for pennies.

I’m sorry your investment is so poor.

Anonymous said...

11:03 - here's a fact that is total BS:
"wood is increasingly in demand"
Have you tried to get a logger to thin a pine plantation lately? There's no demand. You can't give away pine pulpwood.

Anonymous said...

Assuming that was a Lamar Adams joke at 11:30, haha, good one!

Anonymous said...

47,000 timber jobs. Just write it and put it on the internet. Nobody will question it.

I'm all for keeping these interlopers out of our business, but this is a non-event being publicized by a rookie politician using made-up facts.

Is he going to tell us about the dire threats to the state from PETA next?

Anonymous said...

I love when a Mississippi politician brings the "outsiders telling Mississippians what to do" trope into play. It's right up there with "I'll protect small town Mississippi values from the Liberal Elites." They're dog whistles, Pastor Gipson.

1959 called, and it wants its political playbook back.

Anonymous said...

A quick Google search returns that this environmental activist group has bent to their will retailers like Office Depot and fast food chains like Starbucks. I doubt some hayseed with a MS bar card is going to do much except waste taxpayer money and make a fool of himself and this state.

Anonymous said...

article said timber supports 47,000 jobs. no where did it say that it's 47,000 timber jobs. loggers, mills, foresters, truck drivers, etc

timber is not at an all time low

anyone finding fault in the production of this article has too much time on their hands. they are just providing information about someone from out of state coming to the state to protest something that has nothing to do with them. but informing those that it does have to do with

meh, the same anti-anything posters here overstepped on this one

Anonymous said...

The people from Asheville probably are Yankees and unlikely to be native North Carolinians. Natives are a minority in North Carolina.

I would remind everyone that North Carolina had more soldiers to serve and die in the Civil War than any other Confederate State.

And, Mississippi did interfere in the tobacco growing in North Carolina. Or did you not every hear of Mike Moore?

I also wish " outsiders" would mind their own business in this State, including the right wingers from Texas and South Carolina that cost us lots of money.

Anonymous said...

These outsiders have a right to say anything they want in Mississippi their taxes are what keeps this state afloat.

Anonymous said...

SO this group is the Westboro Baptist Church of the Logging Industry? lol

We all started building metal buildings, and using plastic grocery bags, and helped kill what was once our states biggest cash crop. I'm betting this group has no clue what Lucedale is like or how big of a town it is and will be surprised. I wish they would come in late August so they could enjoy Mississippi's climate, mosquitos and gnats... :)

Hermit King said...

@7:55 AM
Right on. It is hilarious to hear so called Consetvative Evangelical Mississippians complaining about people on welfare when this entire state runs on federally funded programs.

Just last week we had a Sid Salter article about money for Ingalls Shipbuilding. This week it is Rural Hospitals. Next week it will be more money to keep our bridges from collapsing.

Meanwhile the MSGOP and favored orbiters get rich on service contracts. How many more Hinds/Rankin/Madison graft millionaires need to get federal indictments?

Ever heard of a Banana Republic? Mississippi should be called the Timberland Republic.

Anonymous said...

Gipson is anti-vaxx and wanted rednecks to fire guns inside college sports venues. He was appointed to his current position so as to remove him from the legislature where he was pushing an agenda not even that body could tolerate. Take nothing he says seriously.

Anonymous said...

Look at me, look at me!

Anonymous said...

gibson... a preacher, and a political appointee to an legislatively created administrative agency where he, with the occasional exception of his chicken little act, sits on his butt and collected a huge salary and full benefits from the taxpayer to really not do anything all day long. true, timber may turn a buck here in mississippi but that industry pails in comparison to the biggest industry in this state which is the growth of government. lets see this clown take all that high powered education he has and get out on the street and earn a living like the rest of us. don t hold your breath. being a little storyteller is easier.

Kingfish said...

All right, some of you have no respect or like for the Commish. Got it. Now how about what he argued in his column?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, you should know by now that most of these clowns are too shallow to analyze an argument. It is far easier to hate the locals and engage in loathing of Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

What secret power do these protestors have stop the construction of the plant?

Hermit King said...

So I read this op-ed on the situation but I didn't read any mention of a solution of any sort. What exactly was the point of his letter?

I only ever visit Lucedale if I stop to relieve myself on road trips to Florida.

What is the commissioner asking us to do? We already know leftists are nuts.

Go to the Dogwood Alliance "Staff" webpage. It is full of worthless Liberal Arts Majors, diversity hires, and the otherwise unemployable leftists who survive on raising money for their next outrage.

Anonymous said...

KF, I agree generally with your complaints about excessive troll attacks, but this is Andy Gipson we're talking about. He made the mistake of picking an easy target, one that represents no significant threat, and forgot that he is an even easier target.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi is a welfare state it should have little say in what people protest. Start paying your own bills, they you can have a say so.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting. I have an acquaintance who is a hardcore leftist. Joined the global warming cult very early. Loves Bill Maher, Jon Oliver, etc. Voted for Obama twice. But man does he love his wood pellet smoker. I doubt this alarmist group would get his support.

Anonymous said...

I’m late to the gate and neither an Andy supporter nor detractor. Like it or not he is C of Agriculture and Forestry falls under his department. His job is to support Agriculture. When an out of state group starts a crusade against it he did what he should and issues a statement in support of the forestry industry. I like trees they are pretty, help the environment and provide cover for wildlife. It’s also a product we grow very well and have an abundance of. It will become profitable again. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for one of you clowns who criticize everyone and everything to run for office, any office.

Anonymous said...

Louisana just got promised a brigde and they say Mississippi is going to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! environmental freedom riders about to interlope into the sovereign state of mississippi. call out the state guard, hide you women and children. this clown gipson dusts off the old political playbook just changing the names but not the rhetoric. hey, its worked before. how much $ is this clown paid each year to play chicken little?

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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