More than 300 visitors from Cobb County and surrounding counties had access to the latest information on soil conservation and farm technology, and heard speeches from GFB President Gerald Long, AFBF President Zippy Duvall and former Gov. Roy Barnes during the Georgia Farm and Erosion Control Expo, held April 29 at Jim Miller Park in Marietta.
The event, sponsored in part by Cobb County Farm Bureau (CCFB), featured more than 40 exhibitors and presentations on erosion control techniques, produce safety, growing crops in high tunnel greenhouses and erosion compliance.
“We had a lot more people here than we thought we would. We had a big turnout and we’re hoping that in future years it’ll be even more,” said CCFB President Stan Kirk. “The goal was mainly to promote agriculture, promote soil and erosion control. Just to make sure people knew they have resources here so that we can help them with that.”
Long spoke during a session following lunch, emphasizing the importance of water to the state’s farmers. A vegetable grower from Decatur County in Southwest Georgia, Long noted that the choice to irrigate is the choice to spend money, so farmers are judicious about when they irrigate and how much.
“In the vegetable industry, any time you’re dealing with specialty crops the seed is very expensive,” Long said. “We can’t afford not to have the plants get established, so irrigation is critical.”
Long also talked about GFB and its role as an advocate for agriculture.
“Some of y’all know us just as an insurance company,” Long said. “We were founded in 1937 to represent the agriculture industry in the legislature.”
AFBF President Zippy Duvall talked about key issues on which the organization is working at the national level, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, regulatory reform and immigration reform.
“When the crop gets ripe it is not going to wait on the Department of Labor,” Duvall said. “We need a reliable source of legal workers to ensure that crops are harvested.”
Duvall also discussed why farmers use biotechnology and modern farming practices.
Georgia Farm Bureau Legislative Director Jeffrey Harvey gave an update on the organization’s work on key ag issues at the state level, including funding for the Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission and keeping the state’s agricultural water metering program under the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Barnes provided the keynote address at lunch, sharing his experiences with farming while growing up and talking about soil conservation issues and techniques.
“Those of us that raise cattle, we grow grass,” Barnes said, directing his comments to the largely suburban crowd. “Even though many of you may not farm or raise livestock, we all grow grass. Developers of subdivisions grow grass. Homeowners grow grass. Everybody grows grass in one way or the other, and you cannot grow grass without good soil and effective erosion control of your land.”