Celebrating Agriculture Awareness Week

Published 6:50 pm Friday, March 16, 2018

We take a lot of things for granted living in the United States. Each time we visit a grocery store we expect it to be stocked with exactly what we came into pick up.

When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited New York City in the early 60s he was astounded that the grocery store was full of everything. He thought it was a “show store” stocked just for his appearance. His tour guides were equally shocked that the Soviet Union did not offer the same selections as American grocery stores. I don’t know whether he ever really believed that was a real store.

Fast forward almost 30 years. One of the biggest reasons the Soviet Union imploded was that citizens got tired waiting in lines for bread and meat. There is a reason why people want to immigrate to the United States. We have had a cheap food policy in place since the early 60s.

The average American spends approximately 11 percent of their income on food. Canada and Japan are usually next in line. Countries south of our border may spend from 40 to 60 percent of their income on food. Americans tend to be the best fed folks on planet Earth. We were also blessed with some of the most productive soil on the planet.

Due to the fact that land was inexpensive and productive, farmers from all over the globe flocked to the United States for the opportunity to own land and work for themselves rather than the local royalty. These farmers brought their expertise as well as farming practices that might not have been for the best.

The United States is number one in food production in the world. The average farmer in the United States feeds 155 other people. We have the most efficient food system in the world. This didn’t happen by chance.

Under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 was passed to educate farmers on the collegiate level in the science of agriculture and mechanics. Hence the terms A&M or Poly Tech Universities. Auburn used to be Alabama Poly Tech.

President Lincoln wanted everyone to have an opportunity to attend college. Federal land grants provided the funding for establishment. UGA was the first land grant in the United States.

The Morrill Act of 1890 provided land grant universities for blacks in the south. Fort Valley State University and Alabama A&M are land grants as well with the same mission, to provide the latest innovations, research and methods to American farmers.

These universities also morphed into leading health, law and liberal arts institutions. If this was not enough, Hoke Smith, senator from Georgia was a co-sponsor of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 which established the current nationwide extension system that is present in all 159 counties in Georgia. This program was to bring the latest research to farm families currently farming.

In 1917, Hoke Smith teamed up with fellow Georgian Dudley Hughes to sponsor the Smith-Hughes Act which established vocational agriculture at the high school level. Farmers could now be educated from high school on.

These forward thinking Americans put the United States on track to be the breadbasket of the Allies during World War II. Norman Borlaug, graduate of the University of Minnesota, a land grant university, provided the worldwide research and leadership that produced the “Green Revolution” of the 1960s.

Norman Borlaug’s leadership extinguished the dire predictions that we would face worldwide famines in the 80s, 90s and the 21st century. His research into improving agriculture production continues to stimulate research that is needed to feed a hungry world.

Consider this, the United States leads the world in food production with less than 2 percent of our population as farmers.

Extension events:

4Pancake breakfast! The cost is $5. Saturday, April 7 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Ag Center. Come out and support the Troup County Cattleman’s Association. Tickets can be purchased at the extension office or from a TCCA member.

44-H Camp sign up: Junior Camp, Cloverleaf Camp, Wilderness Camp and Marine Resources camp. Call the office, (706) 883-1675.

4March 19: Beekeepers Meeting 7 p.m. at the extension office.

4March 20: TCCA Meeting 7  p.m. Dinner costs $6. For reservations, call (706) 443-7697 Topic: Managing Brown Stem Maggot. Dr. Lisa Baxter is our guest speaker. Program starts at 7:30 p.m.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office.