State Representative Preston Sullivan
Preston Sullivan grew up on a cotton farm in Okolona, where he still lives with his wife of 46 years, Linda. “I’ve been on the farm all my life, and it just kind of stuck with me,” he says. “I’ve always had an interest in it.” Sullivan raises cattle and grows cotton, soybeans and corn. He also owns land that is used for timber. No matter what kind of crop or livestock a farmer raises, there’s a common thread of faith and hard work that is always involved in agriculture, Sullivan says. “You have to work hard and depend on the good Lord,” he says. “It’s just a way of life.” Sullivan was first elected to represent District 22 in 2003 and has been re-elected twice. He serves as the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee and has received the Friend of Agriculture Award from the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. Sullivan takes agriculture seriously and feels the weight of his responsibility. “Ag is the No. 1 industry in Mississippi, and a lot of folks don’t realize that,” Sullivan says. “If you’ve got a country that has no agriculture, you’re not going to have much of a country.” Sullivan uses the lessons he’s learned on the farm to stay focused on serving the people of his district and to work with other legislators to make policies that stimulate growth in the agriculture industry. “I’m not much of a politician,” he says, laughing. “What you see is what you get with me. I just want to make things better for everybody.” Sullivan and his wife have two sons, Heath and Justin, two wonderful daughters-in-law and five grandchildren. He enjoys living on the farm next door to his brother, Mike Sullivan, who is the director of the USDA Farm Service Agency for Mississippi.
State Senator Billy Hudson
After a long day of work at the salvage company he owned for most of his life, Billy Hudson couldn’t wait to get back to the farm. “I ran the company to make a living, but I could not wait to get back to the farm every day,” Hudson says. “It bothered me when I had to travel because I’d rather be at home bush hogging.” Hudson grew up on a dairy farm in Forrest County and graduated from Forrest County Agricultural High School. At 20, he opened his first salvage store and worked on his farm every night and on weekends. In 1996, he retired from the retail business and began raising cattle full time. “Those were the best years of my life,” he says. “You’d be tired at night, but it’s a good tired, and you slept well. There may be ways to make more money, but I’d prefer to be able to be on a pond fishing with my grandson.” In 2007, Hudson ventured into what he calls “full-time public service” when he was elected to the State Senate to represent District 45. “When I reached the age that I couldn’t physically work cattle myself, I thought, ‘What can I do to still make a difference in agriculture in Mississippi and help the farmers?’” he says. When it was time to choose a committee to be part of, Hudson requested the Agriculture Committee. And three years ago, when he was selected to be the chairman, he jumped at the chance, telling the lieutenant governor, “I’d be happier than a pig in a mud hole if you’d let me be chairman of the Agriculture Committee.” Hudson has been married to Barbara for 11 years. They have five children, Trudy, Bill, Ben, Marty and Mark, and 11 grandchildren.