History Is Lunch: Andy Gipson, “A History of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce”

On January 18, 2023, Commissioner Andy Gipson, Hannah East, Claude Nash, and Jared Vardaman presented “The History of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce” as part of the History Is Lunch series.

In 1873 the Mississippi Office of the Commissioner of Agriculture and Immigration was founded with a goal to “settle upon and carry into operation, a practical plan for the introduction of sober and industrious immigrants and laborers with their families from without the state.” In 1906, the legislature established the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) as a successor to that office and directed that it be led by an elected official who “shall encourage the proper development of agriculture, horticulture, and kindred industries.”

“The history of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is as rich as Mississippi’s soil and as important as the state’s leading industry–agriculture,” said MDAC commissioner Andy Gipson. “I’m proud that we have been able to tell the story of agriculture in Mississippi and the history of this agency in a new publication produced by our own talented staff.”

The 132-page book follows the changes and developments that took place under each of the eight MDAC commissioners, from scientific advances in farming and ranching practices to changes brought on by industrialization and the growth of agritourism.

Andy Gipson serves as Mississippi’s eighth Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. He was elected in 2019 following an appointment by Governor Phil Bryant in March 2018. Gipson earned his BA in political science from Mississippi College and his JD from Mississippi College School of Law. He is an ordained Baptist minister and had previously been in private law practice.

Hannah East has worked as a marketing specialist with MDAC since 2019. She earned her BA in communication with a concentration in Journalism from Mississippi State University.

Claude Nash is the editor of the Mississippi Market Bulletin. His career with MDAC began on June 1, 1990, and he has continued in the role of editor for more than 33 years.

Jared Vardaman has worked as multimedia coordinator with MDAC since 2020. He earned his BA in communication with a concentration in public relations from Mississippi College.

History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state’s past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

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