Farms, cities come together for breakfast
The annual Buttonhole Breakfast brought farms and cities together Thursday morning.
The event celebrates Farm-City Week, a time set aside each November to educate people on how farms and cities are dependent on each other. This year’s theme is “Agriculture: 365 sunrises and 7 billion mouths to feed.”
Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan was the guest speaker.
McMillan spoke about an Alabama Agribusiness Council study that showed agriculture, forestry and related industries have a $2 billion economic impact and create 12,077 jobs in Dallas County.
He said the county ranks second in the state in catfish production. Other top agricultural commodities were greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production as well as cattle.
There is increased interest in community, school and family gardens, McMillan said.
“All of that will play a role in the future,” he said.
More people are also starting to go into business as smaller-scale producers, particularly due to the ongoing drought in California. McMillan said that business would either go to the Southeast or Mexico.
“The real demand will be for produce, fruits and vegetables,” he said.
The commissioner also talked about the challenges agriculture face. At the top of that list is increased demand, as countries around the world increase their standard of living.
“The need for labor. That is a huge problem,” McMillan said. “There is a tremendous demand for truly seasonal workers.”
Other issues include what McMillan called “over-reaching” federal regulations as well as finding the right balance with genetically modified organisms.
“We must meet the challenges to do whatever we can in a safe manner,” McMillan said. “The enemy is not the science. The enemy is soon to be hunger.”
Before McMillan’s remarks, students who won awards in the Farm-City poster and essay contests were recognized.
In the kindergarten through third grade poster contest, Jeffery Simmons from Salem Elementary took home first place, while JaKira Colvin from Southside Primary won second place and Joshua Long from J.E. Terry Elementary placed third.
In the fourth through sixth grade poster contest, Kaleb Sims from Valley Grande Elementary won first place, while Jamal Voltz of Salem Elementary was second and Rashni Walker from B.K. Craig Elementary was third.
The essay contest was for high school students. Morgan Academy’s Jackson Henderson earned the first place award. Runner-ups were Courvoisier Lewis from Keith High and Ivanna Angion from Dallas County High. Third-place finishers were Rykia Henry from Selma High and Jack Stewart from Morgan Academy.
The top overall winners will go on to compete in the state contest.
Thursday’s breakfast was sponsored by PNC Bank. The Alabama Farmers Federation, the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Leadership Selma-Dallas County and private individuals put on Farm-City Week in Dallas County.