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A Lifetime of Distinguished Service

Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Honorary Vice President Louis Breaux recently received the organization’s Distinguished Service Award for 2012. The presentation was made during state convention in Jackson in December. The award, Farm Bureau’s highest honor, is reserved for someone who has truly made a difference in the lives of Mississippi farmers.

Early in his work as a Hancock County Farm Bureau volunteer leader, Breaux had an experience that would shape his life. He was watching a talent presentation at state convention when a young boy began to recite a poem and talk about the land and what it meant to him as a farmer and to America as a whole.

“This is my land,” the boy kept repeating. “This is my democracy.”

As he finished his talk, he reached into his pocket and took out a handful of dirt that he let sift slowly through his fingers and fall to the floor.

Breaux says he thought, “Gracious, what a good organization. Farm Bureau is made up of fine conservative people and it offers programs for women, young farmers and kids. It has something for every member of the family. I knew at that moment that I would do whatever I could do to support the organization and help it grow.”

He certainly has.

When Breaux moved to Mississippi in 1956, Hancock County didn’t have an active Farm Bureau. The county Extension agent asked if he would like to serve on a board that was trying to get a program started, and he said he would. Thus began the process of growing a county Farm Bureau during a time when Farm Bureau was essentially in its infancy, especially in the coastal area of the state. But Hancock County Farm Bureau soon hit its stride – meeting and often exceeding its quota each year – and plans went on the drawing board for a county office building. During that time, Breaux served as county vice president then president for some 17 years.

“We had finally found an acre of land to purchase to build our office,” he recalled, “when Hurricane Camille hit.”

But far from proving to be a hindrance, the response and efficiency of Farm Bureau claims adjusters in the wake of the storm so impressed the locals that the membership doubled in the year following the storm, as did the size of the proposed building. Hancock County Farm Bureau also began holding annual meetings in the local school cafeteria, which soon overflowed with the number of folks in attendance.

Breaux began serving on the MFBF Board of Directors in 1971. He has served continuously ever since. He was Vice President of the Southern Region for many years and is now a Lifetime Honorary Vice President. He has served with five Federation presidents, including Boswell Stevens, Hugh Arant, Don Waller, David Waide and Randy Knight.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Breaux served on the MFBF Growth and Building committees and the state Mutual Board. He started and headed the very popular Farm Bureau Gumbo Festival in Washington, D.C., for many years.

Breaux served on Gov. Bill Waller’s Pep Committee, representing agriculture, and on Gov. Kirk Fordice’s DEQ Advisory Committee.

All the while, Breaux and his wife Jeannette were raising a family and farming. On their farm at Kiln, they had cattle, timber and a dairy. Later, Breaux and his family built a municipal biosolvent business, which is still in operation today.

In his community, Breaux helped organize and served as president of the County Fair and Livestock Association. He is a past president of the Hancock/Harrison Cattlemen’s Association. He is a past chair of the United Way Campaign, and he received the Merchant Marine Veterans highest award, the Distinguished Service Metal. Following Hurricane Katrina, he organized food drops for families who had lost everything.

Louis and Jeannette will celebrate their 65th anniversary on Dec. 14, 2012. They have seven living children, 21 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

Breaux loves his family, his church and his community, and he remains steadfastly devoted to Farm Bureau.

“I have read about other organizations that claim to be working for the betterment of farmers and the environment, but Farm Bureau truly walks the talk, as they say,” he said. “It is a family organization with good conservative values, and it has done a lot for the farmers of Mississippi. I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with Farm Bureau volunteer leaders and staff to build such an impressive organization.

“I wish Farm Bureau all the best as we move forward into the future, and I hope to continue serving the organization in any way that I can for as long as I am able.”

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The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm organization with more than 197,000 member-families statewide.  There are Farm Bureaus in all 82 counties in Mississippi where agriculture comprises a fundamental part of Mississippi 's economy.  Headquartered in Jackson , the federation is an independent, non-profit agricultural organization and is not associated with any arm of the government.  For more information about Farm Bureau, visit our website at www.msfb.org.

© 2007 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation