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Hartselle Enquirer

County’s agricultural leaders give report to advisory board

| Photo by Clif Knight
| Photo by Clif Knight

Agriculture continues to exert a positive influence on the economic welfare of Morgan County based on reports presented Thursday at a Morgan County Advisory Board meeting.

The luncheon meeting was held at the Morgan County Farm Services Center near Hartselle with approximately 30 advisory board members and Cooperative Extension personnel in attendance.

Morgan county’s agriculture, forestry and related industries accounted for $2.8 billion and 18,841 jobs in 2010, according to Ronald Brittnell, CEC Morgan County, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Poultry and egg production led the way, contributing 76.9 percent of total farm production. Cattle and soybean production came in second and third, respectively.

Morgan County also ranked second in the state in dairy cattle and milk production.

Brittnell introduced the Extension system staff that works with farm producers and homeowners in Morgan as well as other North Alabama counties. They included Mike Reeves, commercial horticulture; Spenser Bradley, forestry, wildlife and natural resource management; Chris Becker, home grounds, gardens and home pests; Gerald Thompson, animal science and forages and Marcus Garner, home grounds, gardens, home pests, forestry and wildlife and natural resource management.

Each one gave short presentations to explain their specialty and told of programs and activities they are using to help educate the public.

Reeves said consumers have a renewed interest in where they food comes from, resulting in an upswing in fruit and vegetable production throughout the state.

“Many of those involved are young, first generation producers,” he pointed out,” and we’re seeing the fruits of their labor at the 137 farmers markers across the state. This is good for farmers as well as program consumers. Things are looking good for the future.”

Spenser said one of his programs called Skins and Skulls always perks up the interest of kids. He added that he gets many calls about home pests and makes home and farm visits.

Becker, who works out of Muscle Shoals, said he devotes a lot of time advising homeowners about pest control, including fire ants.

”Workshops on tree and shrubbery pruning and bee keeping have been especially popular,” he added. Plus, there is a lot of interest in raised bed gardening.”

“More and more people are wanting to know where animal food comes from,” said Thompson, I’m also doing a lot of work with horse owners, emphasizing safety for both youth and adults.”

Garner said education of youth on the importance of doing their part to take care of the environment is a big part of his job.

“One of the programs I work with involves getting people to dispose of old, unused pharmaceuticals in their medicine cabinets,” he said. “Last year. we collected 250 pounds of these medications and prevented them from being flushed down toilet bowls and entering our streams.

He said Bender’s Gym and Pizza Hut in Hartselle are drop-off locations