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Bennie T.
Democrat MS 2

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  • Honoring Mr. Primus Wheeler

    by Representative Bennie G. Thompson

    Posted on 2014-01-09

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    THOMPSON of mississippi in the house of representatives Thursday, January 9, 2014 Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor a long standing black farmer, Mr. Primus Wheeler. He and his family are residents of Tallahatchie County where generations of Wheeler's have been farming since 1936.

    The story of the Wheeler family farming does not start with Primus, it started with his Father, Jim Wheeler. Jim started out farming a 40 acre unit rented from the Buford Plantation then later, rented 300 more acres until one day he was financially sound enough to purchase more than 1000 acres of his own. In order to secure his investment, Jim Wheeler invested his life lessons in his sons by teaching them the farming business, what it means to be a black farmer, the importance of having your own money, and family sticking together and staying together.

    Primus began learning the family farming business as a farm hand, day supervisor, and even bookkeeper until 1948. These skills he held on to, seeing how his father was able to provide a sustainable and prideful life for the family.

    In 1948 when he decided to marry, Georgia, his current wife of 65 years, he knew he too had to provide for his family. So, Primus along- side his wife, Georgia, began farming their first 40 acres of rented land. They grew [[Page E36]] cotton, corn, soybeans, livestock, and vegetables. His livestock consisted of 30 to 40 cows and 50-100 hogs. In 1957 they purchased their first piece of land and moved away from the family owned land and farm, ``Wheeler Farm.'' Primus along-side his wife grew their farm to 100 acres, which is still located in the Sharkey Road community between Glendora and Tippo, MS. He remembers his first crop in 1957 as his worst but just as he was taught and had seen by working with his father on the family farm, ``you take the good with the bad and learn from it but keep going to break through. You just have to make more good crops than bad crops in order to survive.'' He was dealing with bad weather and insects. Over time Primus got better being on his own even increasing the farm from the initial 100 acres to 238 acres at one point then up to 800 acres by renting from local retired farmers. He was able to supplement his income by harvesting cotton and soybeans for other farmers.

    Primus Wheeler, like so many black farmers had challenges that would test the soul and belief of any man.

    Over the years he dealt with challenges like bad seasons in terms of weather, insects, and certainly government financing for black farmers. For example, he said, more times than not, that he had to lean on hope and prayer that FSA would approve his applications for financing, which often times came in late July or early August. These were emotional and unpredictable times; especially seeing the other farmers planting while he was faces the pitfall of FSA. You see, he relied on this money to purchase seeds and fertilizers. But nevertheless, he withstood them all relying on his father's teachings.

    So, through it all, Primus and his wife was able to educate 9 children on their small delta farm and unlike him, not one of his children had to skip or quit school to stay home and help work the farm. Primus retired and turned the farm over to his son, Michael, who ran it until the late 1990s. Afterwards, Primus, Jr. gained control of the farm and still runs it today. However, in all cases, Primus himself is still involved in the decision making of the farm advising and mentoring his son and future generations. Hat's off to Mr. Primus Wheeler for hanging in there and maintaining his farm.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring, Mr. Primus Wheeler, a black farmer from the Mississippi Second Congressional District.


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