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Skaggs: Farmers are stewards of environment
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U.S. agriculture is an efficient producer of food and fiber. About 10 percent of our disposable income is spent for food, the lowest of any country in the world.

And agriculture is an important industry. Georgia farmers annually generate more than $11.5 billion cash receipts. This, plus income from the marketing and further processing of the commodities accounts for more than 15 percent of the total economic activity in the state. This amount is even higher when we consider agricultural-related commodities, for which there is no official estimate.

Georgia farmers take pride in contributing to a food supply that is inexpensive and safe. And they recognize that we must make this supply socially acceptable by preserving resources. Helping farmers in Georgia achieve this goal is the intent of the Hall County Extension Service’s effort to maintain sustainable agriculture.

American farmers have been asked to provide food that is: inexpensive, safe to consume and socially acceptable by preserving natural resources during production

They have done this with a high level of efficiency. On the vast majority of farms, farmers have maintained high productivity while preserving natural resources.

American farmers were among the first environmental stewards — striving to protect the natural resources that enable them to provide food and fiber for each of us. In an effort to recognize Georgia farmers for their environmental efforts, the state of Georgia is seeking nominations for the Fourth Annual Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award.

Initiated by Gov. Sonny Perdue, this award recognizes Georgia farmers who are doing the best job to protect the environment on and around their farms. Nominees are being sought for the award. Applications are available at www.agawareness.com and are due by Dec. 16.

"As I learned from my father growing up on a farm in Middle Georgia, if you take care of the land, it will take care of you," Perdue said. "This award shows all Georgians the outstanding job farmers are doing to protect our environment and preserve our state’s natural resources."

Five district winners are selected for the award each year. This year, only district winners will be required to submit supporting documentation. Past district winners are eligible to apply.

Judges will visit each district winner’s farm. Based on their recommendation, Perdue will announce the state winner at the Fifth Annual Agricultural Awareness Week in Atlanta on March 17.

For more information, contact Donnie Smith, agricultural liaison to Perdue, at 229-386-3104.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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