Photo by Sue WatsonTommy Woods (left) talks with Andy Gipson, commissioner of agriculture, during lunch at Woods Farm Supply.
Photos by Sue WatsonThree generations – from left are Prentis, Philip, Richard, Ray, Patrick, Pat and Tommy Woods.
Andrew Marr sets bags of fertilizer to be sealed.
State ag commissioner visits
Andy Gipson, Mississippi commissioner of agriculture, and assistant commissioner Aaron Williams toured Woods Farm Supply September 21 as part of their sweep through north Mississippi.
Gipson, who served in the Mississippi House of Representatives with Tommy Woods, was appointed commissioner by Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the position vacated by Cindy Hyde-Smith, now serving out the term of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.
Gipson, from McGee, has some cattle and is also a Baptist minister. Hyde-Smith is in the cattle business in Brookhaven and owns a sale barn.
Tommy Woods and his sons served a barbecue lunch to about 40 invited visitors to the noon luncheon.
Pat Woods said he is a seventh generation cotton farmer in Marshall County, following the tradition of his forebear William Byers Woods who came to Marshall County in 1817 and settled in Pigeon Roost Bottom in the Marianna area.
His grandfather J.P. Woods served as District 3 supervisor for Marshall County. The supervisor served 20 years. He bought Watson Gin Company from Leonard Phillips in 1953.
Woods Farm Supply was added in 1975 by Tommy and Jan Woods along with Pat and Gracie.
“And with my sons Patrick and Philip, we make four generations in the agricultural business serving this community,” Woods said.
Prentis and Ray Woods, Pat’s brothers, have been an integral part of the family business through the years. Prentis has a farm and raises cattle and Ray owns Mid-South Erosion and Landscape.
Cotton grown on the Woods family farm is taken to Tunica to be ginned. The Woods family still farms about 1,500 acres of cotton, some grain and has about 300 head of cattle. The family holds about 1,750 acres.
The farm supply sells seeds, feeds, fertilizer, fencing and hardware.
The farm supply also has a contract to package and ship ice melt (used to clear roads of frozen precipitation) in about 15 states.
Earthmate is the brand of fertilizer the Farm Supply ships to five states to distributors like farm supply stores and cooperatives.
Gary Hundhausen said Woods Farm Supply ships out about 800,000 50-pound bags of fertilizer a year from the plant.
The farm supply also ships five and a half barges of bagged salt. Each barge is 63 18-wheeler loads of salt, containing 25 tons of salt per truck.
Fertilizer is shipped to North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Texas.
“You wouldn’t think this little bitty town would have all this,” he said.
The warehousing space totals about 50,000 square feet, he said.
There are 15 employees at the plant, two delivery truck drivers and a bulk fertilizer truck driver.
Fall is the best time of year for selling fertilizer for deer hunters’ food plots, Hundhausen said.
The summer business is mostly lawn care fertilizer. In the spring the plant sells garden bulk mix and farmers come in with their buggies to fill up and take to the field.
The plant averages about 140 pallets per day or 1.25 tons per pallet.
Hundhausen said it takes a special mindset to throw fertilizer bags. Big bulky men are not necessarily cut out for it, he said.
The plant operates Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday are used for overtime production, he said.
The production is semi-automated. There are plants that are fully automated but the equipment is very expensive.
“And, these guys need jobs,” Hundhausen said. “There is no sense in not keeping jobs in the community. We could fully automate, but we do not need to.”
Gipson met area farmers and businessmen such as bankers, and toured the fertilizer plant afterward, before going on to the “Ronald Reagan Roundup” in DeSoto County.
Tommy Woods served 25 years as state representative.
Some invited guests attending the meet and greet for Gipson included: Skeet and Walker Hurdle (Citizens Bank), Bill Fitts, Hunter Taylor (with Mississippi Land Bank), Art Waymire, Tracy Davidson (Citizens Bank), Rep. Bill Kinkade, Paul Summers, Jake Easley (director, Farm Service Agency), Buck Hobbs, Grace and Ronnie Jones, Jimmy Woods, Brian Dye, Murray Haslip, Morris Thompson, Carl DeBerry, Lemon Phelps, Robert Burnett, Jason Elkins, Patrick, Ray, Philip and Prentis Woods, and Mayor Phil Malone.