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Give thanks to farmers for your Thanksgiving bounty

Posted: November 29, 2015 - 12:03am

Thanksgiving is a time to come together with friends and family to celebrate and reflect on all we have been blessed with.

The first Thanksgiving celebrations were based around agriculture. November was the time when the yearly harvest had been completed, and farmers finally had time to stop working and reflect on the fruits of their labor. Having produced enough food to survive the winter was a great cause for celebration.

Modern Thanksgiving celebrations should be no different. We are blessed to live in a country where we don’t have to worry about food supply. We can get in our cars and drive to a grocery store with shelves stocked full of delicious foods from all over the country. We also have an international section. There’s no need to roam the woods to bring home a Thanksgiving turkey. We don’t have to grow the wheat to make the bread, harvest the pumpkins for the pie, or labor all summer to cultivate the vegetables for the side dishes. We don’t have to grow the cotton for our clothes, or produce the wood to build our homes. We have people that do that for us – farmers.

Please take a minute to think about how lucky we really are. We have become spoiled by an almost seamless agricultural supply system.

Not that long ago, most fruits and vegetables were only available during a certain season. Now we can buy produce like tomatoes and apples year round, thanks to greenhouses and cold storage technology. Shortages of meats and dairy products are extremely rare. We can even choose to eat organic vegetables or grass-fed beef. Most of the world is not fortunate enough to be this choosy.

Agriculture has been the foundation that allowed this nation to expand and flourish. Without having to worry about growing food, citizens are free to pursue other forms of work. People have the ability to create businesses and ponder new ideas when they don’t have to worry about where lunch is coming from. We are free to travel and enjoy leisure time when there are restaurants on every corner. Even though we rarely think about it, agriculture is the glue holding our society together.

I am thankful to work in the field of agriculture at such an exciting time. There is so much technology and research fueling the industry at the moment. It is a challenge for today’s farmers to feed and the 7.2 billion people on planet Earth. The UN estimates the world’s population to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Worldwide, urbanization continues to increase, and the percentage of farmable land is certainly not getting any bigger. Farmers are utilizing new varieties and farming techniques to squeeze more crops out of every acre.

According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, during 2012, Georgia’s agricultural producers sold more than $9.2 billion worth of agricultural products. The census showed more than 42,000 farms operating across the state, with 9.6 million acres in production. Georgia agriculture contributes more than $71.1 billion annually to Georgia’s economy.

I am thankful that there are still people willing to be farmers in today’s society. It is not an easy profession. The hours are long and the work is backbreaking. Many farmers are constantly in debt from purchasing basic supplies and machinery. Even with all of the hardships, you won’t find anyone more proud of his/her job than a farmer.

When you sit down with your family for your Thanksgiving meal, please say a prayer for all the farmers who have made it possible.

Tripp Williams, Columbia County’s agriculture and natural resource extension agent, can be reached at (706) 541-4011, or

trippj@uga.edu.

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