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Celebrate Georgia ag awareness week March 15-20

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

Gov. Sonny Perdue has proclaimed March 15-20 "Georgia Agriculture Awareness Week" to honor an industry that touches every life in Georgia and is the economic backbone for much of the state.

Special events throughout the state will help Georgians learn about agriculture's impact. Perdue plans to kick off the week with the signing of a proclamation with Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin.

Perdue will speak to fourth- and fifth-grade classes statewide via Webcast. He'll be joined by state School Superintendent Kathy Cox, state Future Farmers of America President Cliff Tippens and state 4-H President Nekeisha Randall.

FFA and 4-H officers will be in classrooms throughout the week with interactive presentations. An agriculture curriculum and video will be on hand for all fifth-grade classes during the week.

Georgia Extension Service agents and young farmer teachers will meet with civic clubs to champion agriculture in their area.

A Web site (www.agawareness.com) has a complete list of activities, lesson plans, facts and resources. You can test your agriculture knowledge there, too, and earn a certificate.

"The ag awareness week activities are designed to encourage agricultural literacy," says Donnie Smith, ag awareness week chairman. "Knowledge of agriculture is important for informed consumers, for the continued economic success of our state and for good stewardship of our environment."

Georgia ag awareness will coincide with National Agriculture Day, March 20.

Economic engine

Georgia's climate allows for many crops from the north Georgia mountains through the piedmont region to the coastal plain. Vegetables, tobacco, cotton, corn, trees, soybeans, livestock, peaches, onions, aquaculture, floriculture and nursery crops are just a few Georgia commodities.

Georgia farmers produce more broilers, eggs and peanuts than any other U.S. state. In most years, they grow more pecans, too.

And Georgia doesn't just grow food and fiber. It processes, packages and transports it, too.

Agriculture adds more than $57 billion each year to the Georgia economy. That's 16 percent of the state's economic output. One in six Georgians works in a forestry- or agriculture-related job. Almost half of the state's manufacturing jobs are in agribusiness.

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has scientist working throughout the state to develop better, more economical and environmentally safer ways to grow Georgia's crops. They're leaders, too, in ensuring the quality and safety of the food supply.

The UGA Extension Service has agriculture and family and consumer sciences agents in most Georgia counties. They link the university and agriculture to the rest of the state.

Extension agents oversee the Georgia 4-H program, too, which provides youth education and leadership training.

(Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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