Plea to farmers: ‘Be your own advocate’

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Ellerbe Farmers Parade coverage

ROCKINGHAM — There is nobody, said Betty Wilson, who knows the farming business like farmers.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Laura Grier, 4-H extension agent for the North Carolina Extension Office in Rockingham, serves fresh corn bread to Ali Hyde, of the Richmond County Department of Social Services.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Laura Grier, 4-H extension agent for the North Carolina Extension Office in Rockingham, serves fresh corn bread to Ali Hyde, of the Richmond County Department of Social Services.

So in order to increase awareness of agricultural needs and the day-to-day goings-on on estimated 278 farms across Richmond County, tlhe longtime Farm-City Week chairperson had one suggestion: “Be your own advocate.”

Wilson said television shows such as Law & Order, Bones and House all include episodes that feature victims or patients poisoned by pesticides. Viewers, Wilson said, “remember this stuff.”

“You got the knowledge” to follow up on such programs, Wilson said. “Speak up.”

Farmers and their efforts in the fields and factories took center stage Monday during a noon Farm-City Week appreciation luncheon at the North Carolina Extension Office in Rockingham. Nearly five dozen farmers, agriculture-related staff on the county, state and federal levels and local dignitaries attended the lunch that included chicken, chevon (goat), barbecue, baked beans, corn bread, hush puppies and more.

Sen. Gene McLaurin was the featured speaker for the event. He quoted N.C. State University economist Mike Walden, who through the years has often cited the decline in the percentage of the American population that is involved with farming.

In 1801, McLaurin said, when Thomas Jefferson was president, 95 percent of American families made their full-time living through agriculture. The U.S. population at the time was 5 million.

In the early 1900s, the figure was still more than 50 percent. Today, McLaurin said, it’s less than 2 percent. The field has garnered the emotional support of the population. One poll indicated farmers were the third most-liked industry behind only firefighters and paramedics.

“That’s pretty good company to keep,” McLaurin said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Dr. Dale McInnis, Richmond Community College president, tops his plate with fresh grilled chicken Monday afternoon at the Farm-City Week appreciation luncheon.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Dr. Dale McInnis, Richmond Community College president, tops his plate with fresh grilled chicken Monday afternoon at the Farm-City Week appreciation luncheon.

On average, McLaurin said, a single farmer feeds 155 people. Increased efficiencies and improvements in technology have helped lower the price of food. In 1901, 40 percent of a family’s income was spent on food. Today, it’s about 9 percent, McLaurin said.

Throughout the industry changes over the years, McLaurin noted that farmers produce safer, healthier food than ever before. The world can do without electricity, televisions, the automobile — even smartphones and computers, he said — but not without farmers.

“You are our essential to our society,” he said. “We want you to know how much you do for us and how much you mean to us.”

County Commissioner Don Bryant presented a proclamation declaring Farm-City Week in Richmond County. Amy Yaklin, of the Farm Services Agency, Susan Kelly, of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office, Vilma Mendez, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Jackie McAuley, of the Richmond County Soil and Water Conservation District, offered program highlights for their respective agencies.

Those thanked for their support of Monday’s event included Earl Graves, James Cole, Buck Dawkins, Patrick Dunn, Bob Hill, Donnie Richardson, Gene Shaw, Helen Goodman, Big K LP Gas, FirstHealth of the Carolinas, Purdue Farms, Richmond County Farm Bureau and the Richmond County maintenance staff.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

 

 

Filed in: Farm & Ag, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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