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Food drive to highlight Farm-City Week

POSTED: October 24, 2011 6:42 p.m.

Did you know the average grocery store stocks more than 30,000 items? If you appreciate the variety and quality of the many food items available at your local grocery store, then the Effingham County Farm Bureau invites you to join the organization in celebrating National Farm-City Week, Nov. 18-24.

Farm-City Week celebrates the partnership between farmers and their urban colleagues who help prepare, transport, market and retail the food and fiber farmers grow for the American consumer. This year marks the 56th anniversary of the annual celebration.

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 activities that will be held in communities across the country to mark this annual event.

To celebrate Farm-City Week, the Effingham County Farm Bureau is holding a Food Drive for the local food banks in the area. Bring a non perishable food item to the local office no later than Nov. 18 and enter to win a free Farm Bureau membership.

“Food and clothes don’t just magically appear in stores,” said Stuart Exley,   Effingham, County Farm Bureau president. “Georgia farmers work year round on their farms to grow cotton and produce delicious beef, chicken, peanuts, milk, pecans, peaches, watermelon and other fruits and vegetables that we all love to eat. Then, employees of agribusiness companies work to prepare market and transport the food and clothes to stores for consumers. It takes all of us to feed and clothe America and this partnership is what we’re celebrating with Farm-City Week.”

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.

Food and fiber production and directly related processing directly and indirectly generated a total economic impact of $68.8 billion for Georgia and represented more than 383,000 jobs in 2009, according to the UGA CAED. One in seven Georgians works in agriculture, forestry or an ag-related job, and almost half of the state’s manufacturing jobs are in agribusiness.

Georgia farmers lead the nation in producing broilers, peanuts and pecans, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics show.

Georgia farmers also produce a majority of the cotton and fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. 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.

In addition to helping our state economy, Georgia agriculture also helps our nation have a positive agriculture trade balance, which means we export more agricultural products than we import. Last year, $115.8 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the globe including 3 million tons of poultry products, for which Georgia ranked first in the country.

The U.S. also exported $5.7 billion worth of cotton, for which Georgia ranked second in the nation for exporting cotton and linters worth $572.5 million. Georgia ranked first in the nation for exports of peanuts and peanut products worth $154.6 million.

Farm-City Week is also a great time to discuss how the economy is impacting farmers and consumers. There has been a lot of media coverage of record-high commodity prices farmers are experiencing this year, which might lead consumers to think farmers are making huge profits as consumers pay more for food at the grocery store.

Farmers, however, are experiencing record-high production costs that are consuming most of the higher commodity prices. According to the USDA, total operating costs for corn and wheat production have increased 18 percent from last year due to higher fuel, seed and fertilizer costs. Production costs have increased 13 percent for soybeans and 9 percent for cotton.

UGA economists estimate peanut production costs have increased 20 to 30 percent.

In many cases, especially with peanuts, farmers contracted their crops with buyers many months before commodity prices reached record levels, and they are receiving less for their crops than is being reported.

When you look at the price of groceries, remember that farmers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home, USDA statistics show. The rest of the food cost covers the expenses of wages and materials for food preparation, marketing, transportation and distribution, all of which have increased in price, too.

Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization. Its volunteer members actively participate in activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. If you would like more information about agriculture please visit www.gfb.org or like Georgia Farm Bureau on Facebook.

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