JACKSON – Newly appointed Mississippi commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson said he will bring to his new post the same work ethic he displayed for the past seven years as the House Judiciary B chairman.

In that post, the Braxton Republican was a leader in the Legislature on expanding conservative social causes in the state and on expanding the rights of Mississippians to carry firearms in public.

Gipson, 41, said when Gov. Phil Bryant offered to appoint him to the post he “was totally shocked...I did not have to think about it or pray about it very long. This is a bullet that will fit our gun.”

Gipson was introduced as the new commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce by the governor Thursday afternoon during an event at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson. The event was attended by a variety of people ranging from those in the agriculture industry to House members who served with him to members of the Gum Springs Baptist Church where he serves as pastor. He was flanked by his wife and their four young children as he was introduced by Bryant.

Gipson, who was in his third term in the House, will replace Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith as commissioner of agriculture. Bryant named Hyde-Smith last week as the interim United States senator, replacing Thad Cochran, who will officially retire April 1.

Gipson said he would meet with the staff of the state agency Monday and begin work to continue to expand agriculture’s economic impact on the state.

Gipson said he would run for the statewide office in the regularly scheduled 2019 election.

“I’m eager to build upon the excellent work Cindy Hyde-Smith has accomplished for Mississippi farmers, and I’ll be actively exploring ways to further strengthen agriculture as the largest industry of our state,” he said in a prepared statement. “I want to see Mississippi agriculture and commerce grow and thrive for the next generation, and you can bet I’ll work hard to reach that goal.”

Bryant conceded he does see parallels between his political career and Gipson’s. Bryant was a vocal conservative House member when then-Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed him to the open office of auditor in the 1990s.

He quipped that he thought Gipson was a better speaker. At the event, Gipson spoke for about 10 minutes, which encompassed evangelizing, recounting the history and importance of agriculture, detailing his upbringing and making promises for his goals for the agency.

“As a farmer and attorney, he is uniquely qualified to immediately assume the responsibilities of the agency and continue to grow Mississippi’s agricultural economy,” the governor said. “Agri-business is our state’s largest industry and Chairman Gipson’s professional and public experience makes him well-suited for this opportunity.”

Gipson operates a cattle operation in Simpson County and is a farmer.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com Twitter: @bobbyharrison9

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