GAINESVILLE - National Farmer’s Day is Friday, October 12th. It is a day to recognize and appreciate the efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers.
Yes, farming is still big in Hall County despite the housing boom and new subdivisions popping up everywhere, despite the presence of giant construction cranes in downtown Gainesville, despite all the new industrial facilities being built along State Route 365, despite all the new retail developments lining our gateway corridors; farming in Hall County remains a big enterprise.
“The farming industry in Hall County is honestly a bigger deal than a lot of people realize,” says Josh Presley, Hall County’s new Extension Agent.
“Our farm-gate’s value is right at $237-million, which is the value as it leaves the farm” Presley said.
That $237-million quickly skyrockets to $4.4-billion in finished product value by the time everything is processed and packaged within Hall County. Statewide that dollar amount represents 6-percent of the total agriculture output for all of Georgia, a tremendously large share when you consider the fact that Hall is just one of 159 counties in the state.
“And agriculture contributes about 18,000 jobs in Hall County,” Presley adds.
Jennifer and Scott Glover hold down two of those jobs. As owner/operators of Glo-Crest Dairy and Mountain Fresh Creamery near Clermont they take pride in being farmers.
“Farmers make up less than two-percent of our population, yet we’re able to produce all that food to fill our grocery stores, your fridge, and even to send to hungry folks around the world,” Glover said.
According to the most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2012 there were 622 farms in Hall County, totally almost 52,000 acres.
The poultry industry is the leading agricultural resource in Hall County, Presley said, “Poultry has always been king here in Gainesville, ever since its conception.”
Presley said a recent effort to bring locally grown and raised products into the local schools has been successful in more ways than just providing reduced costs to the school system. “A lot of that push is due to this idea of being educated on where our food comes from. All those programs are really helping push this idea that food is being right here in our own back yards and it’s good for you.”
Presley said he works hard at recruiting the next generation of America’s farmers. “That’s a big thing, trying to make farming ‘cool’ again. It’s always been in my life, and it’s something I was passionate about…but through programs like…the annual Ag-Day, when we go into a local elementary school…and teach kids about all of these job options…and try to show it’s not all about digging in the dirt.”
“Instilling that passion is what we’re trying to give to this next generation,” the 22-year old Presley stated.
As one Farmer’s Day website says, “October does seem fitting for celebrating National Farmer’s Day as it is near the end of the harvest. Many farmers will be able to take a rest from their hard labor to join in the celebration of this holiday.”