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Agriculture and the Economy

Though it’s easy to look at the tech industry and think this increasingly influential sector is what makes the world go round, something closer to the very core of the Earth may be what’s driving your economy.

The agricultural sector plays a strategic role in a nation’s economic development and prosperity. From the earliest days, agriculture has been heralded as playing a crucial role in North American culture. Farmers who grow produce and raise livestock for meats and other products have long exemplified what it means to work hard and take initiatives to be self-sufficient.

The symbiotic nature of agriculture and the economy is noticeable when examining the ups and downs of each. This is because food production and the potential of agriculture extends beyond the fields and local food stands. These resources impact supply chains and other markets. A strong agriculture base influences other employment sectors like food manufacturing, biotechnology, hospitality, machinery building, and much more, while a weak agriculture can adversely affect those sectors.

While it can be difficult for residents of developed nations to visualize agriculture’s effect, one only needs to turn to impoverished and developing nations to see just how big an impact agriculture can have on an economy. Agriculture provides food and raw materials, eventually creating demand for goods produced in non-agricultural sectors. Also, food provides nutrition that can serve as the foundation of a healthy nation. Earning a living in agriculture strengthens purchasing power, which fuels other markets. Eventually, farming can pave the way for development, including roads, markets, shipping services, exporting, and many other sectors.

Agriculture is an important economic building block. An especially important sector, the agricultural industry, when supported, can contribute greatly to sustained economic growth.

Extension Provides Real. Life. Solutions.

UT Extension, along with its partner Tennessee State University, helps Tennesseans to improve their quality of life and solve problems through the application of research and evidenced-based knowledge about agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development and community development.

University of Tennessee Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Team helps Tennesseans run more profitable farms and agricultural holdings, grow and process abundant and safe food and create a cleaner environment.

Extension offers many educational programs and services. Some of the most popular include the Tennessee Master Producer Programs that certify producers in Beef, Small Ruminant, Horse, Dairy and Beekeeping.

Other programs and services offered include the Farm MANAGE Program, beef heifer development program, bull testing program, grain crop variety testing, value added agriculture assistance, private applicator pesticide certification, Beef Quality Assurance certification, soil testing, forage testing and much more.

In addition to educational programs and services, there are numerous publications and fact sheets on a variety of agriculture topics to support farmers and agriculture producers.

Follow any road in Tennessee and you’ll find people whose lives have been influenced by Extension’s educational programs.

For more information on Extension programs and services, call 363-3523 or visit giles.tennessee.edu.

—Giles Extension

Explore a Career in Agriculture

The agricultural industry provides a variety of opportunities to professionals interested in this often misunderstood field.

According to the employment resource AGCareers.com, more than 250 career profiles are available to people interested in a career in agriculture. And while jobs in agriculture may not be as prevalent as they were a few centuries ago, when 72 percent of the workforce was employed in farm occupations in the United States, agriculture remains a booming industry that greatly affects the nation’s economy. Today, one in 12 American jobs depends on agriculture, according to the career resource Payscale.

The following are some potential professions for those considering careers in agriculture.

• Agricultural lawyer: Attorneys who specialize in agriculture deal with water and environmental issues, represent agricultural labor in disputes, ensure proper marketing techniques are followed, handle real estate and land use issues and much more.

• Animal control officer: These officers enforce local and regional laws that pertain to the treatment and care of animals. They patrol for distressed animals and ensure cruelty-free practices are adhered to.

• Grain buyer: Grain buyers build relationships with producers so they can purchase grain for their particular companies. They negotiate purchase agreements, source grain supplies and issue purchase orders.

• Poultry hatchery manager: Hatchery managers oversee all of the aspects involved in poultry hatching. These can include management of personnel, handling and sorting of eggs, maintenance of equipment, coordination of pick-ups and deliveries and overseeing quality control.

• Soil scientist: Among the many tasks they might perform, scientists in the field of agriculture test soil samples for minerals and contaminants. By studying the soil, scientists can recommend which crops the land can support, how much livestock can feed in an area and the implications of agriculture on the area as it pertains to managing natural resources.

A career in agriculture presents many exciting opportunities in a number of different applications. It’s a vast industry that utilizes professionals with an array of skillsets.

—Metro Services

USDA Service Center — Multiple Agencies Ready to Serve You

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center in Pulaski is fortunate enough to be able to help producers throughout Giles County.

Our office consists of two federal agencies — the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) — and one county agency, the Giles County Soil and Water Conservation District (GCSWCD). We are located at 1024 Mill St., in the Green Acres Village shopping center, in Pulaski.

To quote former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, our job is “to do right and feed everybody.”  

NRCS has been tasked with helping producers address resource concerns affected by agriculture. The resources addressed include water quality, soil erosion, soil health, vegetation production and health, etc. These resources can only be targeted through a voluntary approach by producers throughout the nation.

Producers come to the NRCS office and request assistance from us. This assistance involves a technical approach to developing alternatives for the producer to consider.

There are also practice incentive programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Wetland Reserve Easement Program (WRE).

These programs utilize federal funding to provide a practice incentive payment to producers who are willing to implement practices that will benefit our resources and their operation. The average amount of practice incentives brought into Giles County annually is around $750,000.

We accept applications year-round for the EQIP program, but if you are interested in projects for 2022 you will need to apply by November.

The Soil and Water Conservation District (GCSWCD) is not only part of the county government but also a part of the state government. GCSWCD also has a board of directors consisting of five local producers elected by the landowners of Giles County — Chairman Larry Dickey, Treasurer Ben Jackson, Russ Underwood, Chris Edgmon and James McCormack.

The GCSWCD employees are to protect and conserve the natural resources of the county for landowners, land users, units of government, educators and organizations by finding and taking available technical, financial and educational resources and making them available to our clients. The district utilizes programs such as the Agriculture Resources Conservation Fund (ARCF), 319 Watershed Grants and aids in the implementation of the federal programs. Annually these programs provide producers with an average of $250,000 in cost share assistance.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) serves all farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the administration of various programs including disaster relief, conservation programs and loan programs.

FSA County Committees are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and consist of local farmers and ranchers who are elected to serve on the committee. Elected Committee members use their judgment and personal knowledge to help with decisions necessary to administer FSA programs. The Giles County FSA Committee consists of Chairperson Eddy Petty, Vice-Chairperson Dwight Watson, Bartt McCormack and Advisor Patricia McDougal.

There are sign-ups being conducted for Pandemic Relief until Oct. 15.  

For additional information on any programs mentioned, visitfarmers.gov or gcscd.com, or call our office at 363-2675.  

—USDA Pulaski Service Center

How Farmers Are Using Drones

The farmers of yesteryear might not be too familiar with their surroundings if they were to visit a modern farm. While the men and women who made their livings as farmers decades ago would no doubt still recognize certain farm features that have withstood the test of time, they might not understand the inner workings of the modern farm, particularly in regard to the role technology now plays within the agricultural sector.

Technology has changed agriculture in myriad ways. The methods farmers employ to produce food and improve the efficiency of their operations has changed as technology has evolved. One of the more noticeable changes that’s hard to miss on modern farms is the use of agricultural drones.

Drones have been around for decades. Sometimes referred to as “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or “UAVs,” drones can be utilized in ways that can save farmers money and protect the planet.

• Monitor Crops: According to senseFly, the commercial drone subsidiary of Parrot Group, drones can help farmers effectively monitor their crops. With a drone flying overhead, farmers can spot and quickly identify issues affecting their crops before those issues escalate into something larger.

• Soil Analysis: Another potential benefit of agricultural drones highlights their role in analyzing soil. Agricultural drones utilize complex mapping functions to gather data about the soil, including areas where it might be stressed. That enables farmers to develop accurate soil samples that can be used to guide decisions in regard to irrigation and fertilization.

• Reduce Waste: SenseFly notes that data gathered by drones can help farmers determine the vigor of their crops at various stages of growth. Such information can prevent overfertilization and overwatering, thereby reducing waste and runoff, benefiting the planet as a result.

• Planning: Drones can be used to collect data on crop growth and health at various times throughout the growing season. That can help farmers develop accurate predictions regarding harvest quality and crop yield, making it easier for them to plan ahead.

Agricultural drones are one of the many examples that illustrate how technology has changed and will continue to change the ways modern farmers conduct business.

—Metro Services

Agriculture’s Impact in Giles County

Agriculture is a very important industry in Giles County. According to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, there are 1,599 farms located in the county that market more than $48.8 million in farm products and commodities each year on 251,015 acres. Livestock sales make up 62 percent of the market value while crops add the remaining 38 percent.

Giles County’s agriculture is unique in that it is very diverse with a wide array of production systems including livestock, poultry, grain crops, cotton, honey, dairy, greenhouse and nurseries, fruits and vegetables and agritourism.

Beef production is the largest agriculture sector in the county. Beef sales generate almost half of the county’s total market value of agriculture products sold each year. Giles County statistically ranks third in Tennessee in total beef cattle numbers and also ranks third in hay production.

On-farm and value-added sales have increased substantially from the previous Census of Agriculture conducted in 2012. The $453,000 change in value between 2012 and 2017 ranks third in the state behind only Sevier and Williamson counties. Giles County ranks second in the number of total farms (26) selling valued-added commodities falling only two short of the state leader, Williamson County.

Agritourism and recreational services have become an important income for some family farms. Giles County ranks sixth in the state in reported value of sales for these enterprises.

A study conducted by the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in 2018 focused on agriculture’s contribution to local county economies across Tennessee. This study determined that total direct agriculture output for Giles County was estimated at $489.8 million. This number included all crop and livestock production, food and fiber processing, farm inputs and forestry-based products.

A multiplier effect including farm purchases of local inputs and local spending by farm families and agriculture workers was estimated to be $636 million. Basically, for every $1 of direct output from agriculture, the total economic impact on the county’s economy was estimated to be $1.30.

The study also determined that one direct agriculture job generated an additional 1.93 jobs in the county.

To learn more about Giles County’s agricultural impact, go to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture at nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/Full_Report/Census_by_State/index.php.

—Giles Extension

Check Out These Local Farms, Agriculture-Related Businesses, Organizations

From farm to table to cattle producers and agriculture services, agriculture is Giles County’s top industry. Check out these local farms and agriculture related businesses and organizations.

• Flowers Creamery: 2734 Rhea Branch Rd., Ethridge; 931-292-2455; flowerscreamery.com

• Friendship Acres Farm: 5625 Beech Hill Road, Pulaski; 363-1040 (office) or 309-8710 (Billy T.)

• Giles County Soil Conservation District: 1024 Mill St., Pulaski; 363-2675, Ext. 3; gcscd.com and on Facebook

• Rosie Belle Farm: 7480 Beech Hill Rd., Frankewing; 813-300-3306; rosiebellefarm.com

• Rosson Orchard and Farm: 34 Springer Station Rd., Loretto; 931-629-0705; facebook.com/rossonorchard

• Scott’s Orchard: 2163 Scott Road, Hazel Green, AL; 256-828-4563; scottsorchard.com

• UT-TSU Extension-Giles County: 132 South Second St., Pulaski; 363-3523; giles.tennessee.edu.