Farmers honored at ag lunch

Published 6:15 pm Friday, November 16, 2012

Shown are, left to right, 2012 Ag Woman of the Year Diane Stuart, 2012 Ag Scholarship Winner Taylor Strickland, and Donald Barber, who accepted the plaque on behalf of his father Harold Barber, the 2012 Ag Man of the Year.|Justin Schuver

Georgia’s farmers will help meet the future food needs of not only the nation, but also the entire world, according to the keynote speaker at Friday’s annual Ag Appreciation Luncheon.

Dr. J. Scott Angle, the dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, told more than 200 farmers and other citizens that Georgia farmers really do “feed the world.”

“Estimates say that the world is going to have to double its current food production in order to feed the 9 billion people on the planet in the year 2050,” he said. “Farmers in the U.S., and especially in the South and in Georgia, are going to have to produce a lot of food to help meet that need. It’s both a moral obligation and an economic opportunity.”

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Angle said that the U.S. South is uniquely situated to meet agricultural needs, because of its ideal climate, soil quality and water availability. He noted that the northern U.S. doesn’t have enough hours of sunlight, and the western U.S. is experiencing water shortages, providing the opportunity for the southern U.S. to fill a major niche.

“You can go to bed each day satisfied that you’re saving lives from hunger,” Angle said.

He also noted that China and India’s economic growth is opening new markets for farmers’ goods, because the soil in those countries is not suitable for large-scale agriculture. He explained that Georgia’s Port of Savannah is a huge asset, and that asset will grow even more when the Panama Canal is widened and the Port of Savannah is further dredged.

Angle said that the Panama Canal is set to see its width increase by more than three times, allowing for larger vessels to pass through.

“You’re the ones who are going to fill those ships going from Savannah, through the Panama Canal, and onto Asia,” he said.

Angle also explained that the University of Georgia, and other universities, are continuing to do research to help fight pests and increase yields for farmers.

Also during the luncheon, which was sponsored by the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce and held at the Cloud Livestock Facility, the 2012 Ag Man and Ag Woman of the Year, were recognized.

Harold Barber, the founder of Barber Fertilizer Company and a longtime farmer, was recognized as the Ag Man of the Year. His son, Donald Barber, accepted the award on behalf of his father, who was unable to attend.

Diane Stuart, who has been working as the operations manager at Green Circles Farm in Brinson for 31 years, was the Ag Woman of the Year.

The recipient of the 2012 Ag Scholarship was Bainbridge High School senior Taylor Strickland. Strickland, the daughter of Ben and Debbie Strickland of Attapulgus, is a BHS senior who is the president of the high school’s Future Farmers of America chapter.

She is also a four-year member of the BHS dance line and was recently selected as “Most Likely to Succeed,” by her senior classmates.