As I was watching an NFL playoff game one weekend, the network showed a promo for the upcoming Super Bowl and I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite Super Bowls: No. 47.

Super Bowl 47 is simply my favorite, not because of the game itself, but because of a 30-second commercial.

“And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker. So God made a farmer,’” states Paul Harvey. This piece was actually part of his riveting message to the 1978 Future Farmers of American Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

Today farmers, and especially in Monroe County, are our most vital asset. Agriculture remains the top industry in the state and Monroe County.

As I get ready to attend several meetings with our famers this month, like the county and state cattleman’s associations, I am reminded of my love for this industry. Personally, agriculture is a major part of our family’s life, where we continue to live and work from. In this article I want to simply show how important our farmers are to our county.

Monroe County has 838 farms massing over 108,100 acres, averaging 129 acres and 97% are family owned farms (1,409 producers). Many ask, what is the economic impact of farming and agriculture in our county? It is tremendous. According to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, there was $42,056,000 worth of agriculture products (from the farm) sold in Monroe County.

However, when you calculate all agriculture goods and services (agri-businesses) sold in Monroe County, the output is $314.3 million.

Beef and dairy cattle lead the revenue source with grain crops a distant third. There are currently 2,307 jobs in Monroe County associated in the agriculture industry.

Monroe County is a frontrunner in many aspects of agriculture in rankings among 95 counties. Monroe County ranks No.1 in milk production ($11.8 million in sales), No.7 in cattle production ($17.6 million in sales with over 35,000 head), No.4 in hay production (25,000 acres), No.8 in aquaculture, and No.15 in fruit/nut tree production ($290,000 in sales).

Agri-business, Agri-tourism, pick your own markets, fresh/organic markets, niche markets such as Tsali Notch Vineyard have become the normal rather than exception and are growing every day.

Monroe County government is committed to assisting our agriculture community with departments such as UT/TSU Monroe County Extension, Monroe County Soil Conservation District and the Farm Service Agency, which provide education and offer program assistance in a variety of production areas.

“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So God made a farmer.

“‘I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild … somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies — then tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.’ So God made a farmer.

“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt … and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, which can make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, painin’ from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.’ So God made a farmer.

“God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double-speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.”

God bless our farmers and Monroe County.

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