Hats off to farm producers

Two events I attended last week reminded me of the important role agriculture plays in putting healthy, nutritious foods on our tables and a fistful of cash in our economy.

At the annual Morgan County Farmers Federation meeting in Hartselle on Friday, an impressive collection of foodstuff and household goods was displayed and later given away as door prizes. It was reassuring to realize that most of the prizes came from the farms of people we know as our farm friends and neighbors.

Coolers filled with ribeye steaks and chicken breasts represented the county’s growing beef and poultry producers; fresh peaches, fruit growers; corn flakes and Wheaties, grain producers; cheese; dairy farmers; and corn meal and flour, grain producers.

An estimated 200 Farm Federation members attended the gathering and more than half walked away with a prize they could either spend at a business of their choice, eat or use to decorate their home. Plus, everyone present was invited to pick up a cup filled with homemade ice cream (another delicacy derived from farm products) after the meting was adjourned.

The status of agriculture in Morgan County was a subject reviewed at the annual Morgan County Advisory Board meeting at the Agricultural Service Center on Thursday.

It was fitting that the box lunch consisted mostly of food products grown in our own county. The Reuben sandwich was made with loaf bread (wheat) ham slices (pork) tomato and lettuce. It was served with potato salad, a cucumber pickle, potato chips and banana pudding.

Ronald Brittnell, CEC Morgan County, got the attention of board members by relating some statistics to show what is happening in agriculture in Morgan County.

He said the total impact of agriculture and forestry production in 2010 was $263.5 million. Of the total, 76.9 percent was contributed by the poultry and egg production sector. The county also ranked second in the state in dairy cattle and milk production.

Another interesting observation on the status of agriculture was made by Mike Reeves, commercial horticulture specialist. He noted that he is seeing and talking with a new breed of fruit and vegetable producers.

He said the new generation of farmers is made up mostly of young people and retirees who are responding to the demands of consumer for healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables in the marketplace.

Food producers have been and continue to be a vital link to a prosperous economy and a healthy population. Let them know you care about what they do the next time you go to a farmers market to choose fresh fruits and vegetables for your next meal.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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