Farm-City Week celebrates the cooperative relationship between farmers and their urban colleagues who help process, market and retail the food farmers grow to the American consumer. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the annual celebration. The theme for the event is “Agriculture: A Growing Story.”
Kiwanis International began National Farm-City Week in 1955 to increase the understanding of the partnership between urban and rural residents. Farm days at schools, farm tours, banquets and mayoral proclamations are just a few of the observances that will be held in communities across the country to mark this annual event. “Agriculture has always been important for the obvious reasons of providing food, clothing and shelter, but agriculture affects everyone’s life in so many other ways by creating jobs, providing habitat for wildlife and protecting greenspace, ” said Henry J. West, Gordon County Farm Bureau president. “Without farmers, Georgia can’t grow - its food or economically.”
According to the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED), food and fiber production and related businesses represent the largest or second largest segment of all goods and services produced in two-thirds of Georgia’s counties.
“Georgia’s food and fiber industry includes more than just the farmers who grow our food and fiber. It also includes businesses that process, distribute and sell the food, paper and clothing products made from the commodities grown on the farm,” said West. Food and fiber production and directly related processing directly and indirectly generated a total economic impact of $65 billion for Georgia and created more than 351,000 jobs in 2008, according to the UGA CAED.
Last year, Georgia farmers lead the nation in producing broilers, peanuts, pecans and watermelon, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics show. Georgia farmers placed second in the production of fresh market cucumbers, spring onions and rye. In 2009, the top ten commodities grown in Georgia were broilers, cotton, eggs, timber, peanuts, horses, beef, greenhouse horticulture products, dairy and container nursery plants.
Georgia farm and timber owners also provide environmental benefits to the state by preserving natural habitats for native plants and animals. According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, there are 49,000 farms in the state with an average size of 218 acres. There are 10.7 million acres of farmland in Georgia. On average, Americans spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. In comparison, French consumers spend 15 percent of their disposable income on food while Chinese consumers spend 26 percent, and Indonesian consumers spend 51 percent of their disposable income on food.
Each American spends just four cents per meal for U.S. farm policy costs, which account for slightly less than one-half of one percent of the total U.S. budget. The USDA budget funds food and nutrition programs for the needy (the largest portion of the USDA budget), food safety inspections, conservation programs, research and risk management programs.
USDA statistics show that farmers receive only 19 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest of the food cost covers wages and materials for food processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents of every dollar spent on food.
As you dig into turkey and grandmother’s sweet potato pie recipe, take time to say a prayer of thanks for the farmers who grew the food you will eat this holiday season. They have proudly labored all year to produce food to feed not just their families but also the rest of the world. As consumers, we owe them much more than they are paid. Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia