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Farm-City aimed at finding common bonds

For the first time in many years a Farm-City dinner meeting was held in Hartselle Nov. 15 as a means of creating a stronger partnership between rural and city folks.

Sponsored by Morgan County Farmers Federation, the dinner meeting was held at First United Methodist Church with about 120 farm and business leaders and elected officials in attendance.

“I’ve attended Farm-City meetings in Jackson County for a number of years,” said Hal Lee, who chaired the meeting as a board member of the Farmers Federation. “I found them to be useful in bridging the gap between the farmer who grows the food and the businessmen who process, package and market it to the consumer.

“What we wanted to accomplish with this meeting was to bring rural and city folks together and give them the opportunity to begin building stronger relationships,” he pointed out. “We’re very pleased with the response. This is something we want to do annually.”

“We’re all connected to agriculture whether or not we realize it,” said guest speaker Jeff Helms. chairman of the State Farm-City Committee. “One in five jobs in Alabama are farm–related; farmers are producing two and a half times more food today than they were 30 years ago. Plus, their work is being done in an environmentally-friendly way. During the same period soil erosion has been cut in half.

“However. the role of the farmer is often taken for granted,” he pointed out. “In a recent survey, 42 percent of the respondents said they felt the nation’s food system was moving in the wrong direction; only 39 percent felt otherwise.

“Two generations ago people were not far removed from the farm,” Helms stated. “Alabama had a quarter of a million farms. Today, there are only about 45,000 and that includes any farm that generates at least $1,000 worth farm products annually.

“There has been some disconnect between city and farm. Many people simply have no idea of what is taking place on the farm. The Farm-City Program is striving to rebuild the ‘good buddy’ spirit that existed then.”

To illustrate the farmer’s important role in the state and local economy, Lee showed two videos. One covered North Alabama with farm-related photos and comments and the other related solely to Morgan County. As local photographs popped up on the overhead screen, Lee’s wife, Jane, read comments from a periodical entitled “So God Made A Farmer,” which was written and made famous by Paul Harvey.

Recognition was extended to two local teams of Future Farmers of America, who represented Alabama as state winners at the 84th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis recently. Travis Blankenship, Seth Pillow, Mary Ward and Roger Summerford were members of Falkville FFA Chapter’s agricultural mechanics career development team. Alexis Culp, Haley Cutcher, Brandy Hoffman and Sara Stephenson competed as members of Danville FFA’s floriculture career development team.

The Farm-City Program is active in 45 of Alabama’s 67 counties. One of its projects is the sponsorship of an annual Farm-City Poster and Essay Contest. The poster contest is open to Alabama’s K-6 students and the essay competition is open to 7-12 graders.

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