Breakfast celebrates the Alabama farmer

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

While agriculture is still the state’s No. 1 industry, the number of family farms is dwindling.

In 1930, there were 250,000 farmers in Alabama. Today, there are less than 50,000 farms, and of those, only about 15,000 farms make a significant portion of their income from farming, said Jeff Helms, communications director for Alabama Farmers Federation, who spoke at the Farm City Week breakfast, held Thursday at the Central Alabama Farmers’ Co-op.

Email newsletter signup

“A big part of the job I have is to try to help folks understand what it’s like to walk a mile in a farmer’s boots,” Helms said. “Agriculture is the heart and soul of our rural communities.”

In Dallas County, there are about 500 farms, he said.

While the number of farms is dwindling, agriculture still employs more people in Alabama than the automobile industry, Helms said.

And Alabama’s farmers are becoming more innovative. Alabama has the second largest catfish industry in the nation, and farmers are finding new ways to use their fields.

“Farmers all around the state are trying all types of new and exotic crops,” Helms said.

“Farmers have always been smart folks. After all, most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were farmers,” Helms said. “They are master craftsmen. They don’t know the meaning of the word ‘can’t,’ and they are resilient. Despite setbacks, farmers always seem to have faith and optimism.”

The Farm City Week buttonhole breakfast is held annually by the Selma-Dallas County Centre for Commerce.