The Marshall County Extension Office held its annual Farm City Week Banquet on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Guntersville Town Hall to highlight farming organizations in the area and promote National Farm City Week.

“Farm City Week is a time of the year where we celebrate the relationship between rural farmers as well as city and urban dwellers,” County Extension Coordinator Eddie Wheeler said. “It takes a lot to get the food from the fields to the store and on your table.”

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture Rick Pate was the event’s guest speaker.

He spoke about all the Alabama Department of Agriculture does to ensure farmers are taken care of and consumers receive the best local products possible.

“‘Local’ is not a very strong adjective, but that word is powerful to food consumers,” he said.

The department has more than 350 employees divided up among six divisions including animal health — poultry is the largest “economic engine” in agriculture in Alabama, Pate said — plants and pesticides, food safety, transportation, weights and measures (which checks a variety of measuring devices from produce scales at a grocery store to gas pumps), and farm promotion.

“Farm City Week is a good time to talk about food safety,” Pate said. “Think about it; 320 million or so people get up, eat three meals a day and never really think about if it will make them sick.”

Pate said, while some people today take their food for granted, they still like to know where it’s coming from and how it was made or grown.

“People think differently about their food, especially urban people and young people, too,” he said. “When I was growing up, we just ate what your mother put in front of you … Now days, people want to know more about their food. They want to know where it was raised, what’s been put on it — I’ve seen them take pictures of their food and send it to other people.”

Other speakers at the event included Wheeler, Urban Regional Extension Agent Juana Macias-Christian, District Conservationist Shawn Manning and Marshall County Farmer’s Federation board member Corey Hill and president Stanley Summers.

“We should, throughout the year, celebrate that relationship between the farmers and urban individuals, because we depend on [farmers] to grow, process, distribute the food,” Wheeler said. “It’s a good time now to strengthen that relationship.”

4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent Kristen Roberson presented awards to students in the 4-H programs for their posters and essays about the importance of agriculture.

This year’s National Farm City Week runs from Nov. 22-28. The theme is “Keep Alabama Growing.”

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