Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to keynote Delta Council

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden will be the keynote speaker for the 79th annual Delta Council meeting to be held at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Delta State’s campus May 30 at 10:30 a.m.

The tradition of a fried catfish luncheon will conclude the yearly event on the grounds of Delta State’s quadrangle.

Mytis Tabb, associate vice president at Delta State, is thrilled to continue the proud tradition of Delta Council on the university’s vibrant campus.

“Delta State University is always pleased to host Delta Council Day on our campus,” said Tabb. “It takes many hands to insure a successful event and we have a great Delta State team to make it happen. We look forward to welcoming visitors from several states.”

Harden, who was raised in South Georgia in a farming family, was sworn in last year as deputy secretary after a distinguished career in agricultural policy.

“We are so pleased that our friend Krysta Harden will be the featured speaker for this year’s Delta Council Annual Meeting,” said Delta Council president Gibb Steele, a farmer from Greenville. “We have worked with Krysta in a number of different capacities during her career, including her distinguished tenure as CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts, the American Soybean Association and as staff person on Capitol Hill concentrating on agricultural issues.

“Since being nominated as Deputy Secretary, she has already been charged with implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill over the coming months, and we look forward to her talking to our members and guests about the future of rural America.”

Harden was instrumental in implementing programs under the 2008 Farm Bill that have resulted in record investments in America’s farms and rural communities, record agricultural exports and record conservation efforts. She worked to pass and implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, ensuring the availability of nutrition assistance to struggling Americans.

A chief advocate of conservation, she continues leading efforts to build close stakeholder relationships with an ultimate goal of enhancing land and water conservation, improving economic opportunities through increased outdoor activities and expanding modern forest management.

From 2004-09, Harden was the CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts. She also served 12 years on Capitol Hill as staff director for the House subcommittee on peanuts and tobacco and as chief of staff and press secretary for former Congressman Charles Hatcher. Harden received her degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant will introduce Harden to the Delta Council audience.

In addition to Harden, the Delta Council will honor more than 140 high school seniors as Delta Honor Graduates, with the ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. The top Honor Graduate will be selected by higher education officials and be presented a $2,500 scholarship during the council business session.

“The Delta Honor Graduate event is designed to raise the level of awareness of parents, teachers and our local communities of the importance of bringing these bright young minds back to the Delta after they have completed their formal and advanced education,” said Cass Pennington of Indianola, chairman of the Delta Council Education and Health Policy Committee.

Also at 9 a.m. in the BPAC Recital Hall, noted Washington political commentator Stu Rothenberg — a favorite of past Delta Council audiences — will address the members of Delta 1000 on the upcoming midterm national elections.

Sponsors of this year’s meeting include: BankPlus; Catfish Farmers of Mississippi; Cotton, Inc.; Jimmy Sanders, Inc.; Mississippi Corn Promotion Board; Mississippi Rice Promotion Board; Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board; and Southern Ag Credit/Mississippi Land Bank.

The Delta Council Annual Meeting, held at Delta State each May, is a “combination of political happening, social event and old-fashioned dinner on the ground.” It is attended by several thousand members and guests who are provided the opportunity to hear nationally known speakers, review the results of Delta Council programs, enjoy a top-notch cotton fashion show sponsored by local talent and enjoy a hot catfish and hushpuppy dinner.

Delta Council is an area economic development organization representing the 18 Delta and part-Delta counties of Northwest Mississippi. For more information, visit

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