In a year that has seemed so out of the ordinary, the coming holidays have many longing for old traditions. During Thanksgiving, we think about all of the things that we are thankful for and all of the things that have brought us through the past year. But how many of us think to thank the farmers that made the large meal in front of us possible. Without farmers, we wouldn’t have food or many of the products that we use on a daily basis. And those farmers are dependent on the agricultural community that supports them – suppliers, lenders, insurance companies, and markets — those that help the farmers reach their goals.

Farmers provide a safe and abundant food supply for Georgians, Americans and an ever-growing world population. Georgia’s farmers work tirelessly all year to provide poultry, beef, peanuts, cotton, watermelons, peaches, pecans, grain, vegetables, and many other products for consumers while dealing with difficult weather conditions, record-high input costs for fuel, energy, and fertilizer, and uncertain prices for their products. Farmers take all of these uncertainties in stride while continuing to provide food and agricultural products for all of us to enjoy. Agriculture is constantly changing and adapting, thanks to the resilience and dedication of farmers. They are always learning and looking for better and more efficient ways to do things. It’s that spirit of innovation that has sustained American agriculture for centuries, and it’s that same spirit driving agriculture into the future.

Madison County has a long agricultural history that has paved the way for a thriving industry. Since the early 2000s, poultry production has dominated the local economy and still remains the top industry today. The Farm Gate in Madison County is valued at $514 million. Our main commodities are poultry and livestock, but also includes row and forage crops, forestry, and fruits and nuts. Perhaps some of the food you will enjoy this Thanksgiving was produced right here in Madison County.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because it is a time to show gratitude and enjoy fellowship with family and friends. And although Thanksgiving might look a little different this year, nothing can stop us from being thankful and appreciative for what we have. Yes, we have faced — and continue to face — hard times, but we shouldn’t reserve gratitude only for the easy times. When you sit down at the family dinner table this Thanksgiving and count your many blessings, be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of our agricultural community.

Carole Knight is the Madison County Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent.

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