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Georgia Ag Week a chance to celebrate farmers

by Georgia Farm Bureau


Spring is coming, which means Georgia farmers are gearing up to harvest strawberries, Vidalia onions, blueberries, and wheat. In May and June, they will plant their summer crops of peanuts, cotton, and soybeans.


That’s why Georgia Farm Bureau and other ag organizations across the state will observe Georgia Ag Week March 18-23 and celebrate National Ag Day on March 19. National Ag Day, which has been celebrated for 51 years, is traditionally celebrated on the first day of spring.





“Georgia’s farmers and ranchers are hard at work producing our food and materials used to make our clothing and build our homes,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Tom McCall. “Farmers are worth celebrating, and I’d ask all Georgians to take a moment to recognize the critical role agriculture plays in our state. They also work to preserve wildlife habitat and natural resources for future generations.”


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics show that Georgia farmers play a big role in feeding us. They are the top peanut producers in the United States growing almost half the peanuts grown in our country, with most used to make peanut butter and snacks. Georgia farmers lead the nation in growing broilers, the chickens used to make our favorite chicken sandwiches, tenders and wings. In 2022, Georgia pecan growers led the U.S. in production of pecans.


Georgia ranked second in production of cantaloupes, watermelons and cotton. Georgia ranked third in the U.S. for production of peaches and bell peppers, and fourth for blueberry and cucumber production, according to USDA data.


We can also thank Georgia farmers for growing cotton to clothe us and timber to house us. Georgia cotton farmers placed second in the U.S. in 2021 for both the quantity and cash value of lint and seed produced. Georgia consistently ranks as the top forestry state in the nation.


Most Georgians are multiple generations removed from the farm, so Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) has prepared several videos that provide insight into Georgia agriculture. If you are interested in learning more about the crops and livestock grown in Georgia, visit https://gfb.ag/gaagvideo. If you would like to meet a Georgia pecan farmer and hear him discuss how he maintains his pecan orchard year-round visit https://gfb.ag/meetapecanfarmer. Visit https://gfb.ag/pecanhistorytoharvest to see True Food TV host Nicole Jolly explore America’s only native tree nut and explain how the different pronunciations of pecan evolved from the Native Algonquin word for the nut – pakan – with the influence of French and English settlers. Learn about pecans’ nutritional benefits and the many varieties. You’ll also see how pecans are produced from planting seedlings to harvest and how they are cracked and sorted at the processing plant. Visit https://gfb.ag/AgWeek2024 to download free activity sheets, no-cook pecan recipes, easy craft ideas and much more.


Not only does Georgia agriculture feed and clothe us, but it also benefits our state economy. Agriculture and related industries contributed $83.6 billion to Georgia’s economy in 2022, according to the University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED).


Georgia’s Top 10 commodities for 2022 were: broilers ($6.7 billion); cotton ($1.3 billion); eggs ($960.2 million); peanuts ($790.8 million); timber ($780.8 million); beef ($730 million); greenhouse nurseries ($611.2 million); corn ($522.7 million); blueberries ($449.4 million) and pecans ($400.8 million) according to UGA CAED reports.


Food and fiber production and the process of getting the raw materials to consumers contributed 323,300 jobs for Georgians in 2022, the CAED reports. Agricultural careers include crop and livestock research, engineering, precision ag specialists, software and IT work, agribusiness management, marketing, food product development and safety, processing, retailing, ag teachers, banking, bioenergy, livestock veterinarians and others.


Besides providing our basic needs and driving Georgia’s economy, farmers also protect the environment. Farmers prevent soil erosion and water runoff by planting cover crops and using minimum tillage methods like no-till or strip-till to plant their crops. These conservation tillage methods reduce the amount of fuel farmers use and sequester carbon in the soil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Farmers use about 50% less fertilizer to produce a bushel of corn, wheat or soybeans than they did in 1980, the USDA reports. They’re able to do this by using GPS, sensors, field mapping software and tractors equipped with precision ag technology. These practices allow farmers to apply only the fertilizer and crop protectants that they absolutely need to grow a healthy crop.

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