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Local foods served at farmer appreciation breakfast

In the morning, when most of us wake up, we start our daily routine. Tired eyed and sleepy-headed, we start the coffee, round up something to eat, and head out to get the day started.
Or, if you are like me, you might have hit that snooze button a little too long, and it’s a mad dash to get ready and a quick breakfast from your favorite restaurant.
We spend our days trying to be as productive as we can, sometimes eating lunch on the go. We head home after a long work day, hopefully get a good hot meal, and then head to bed to do it all over again in the morning.
During the rush and hustle, it is easy to forget how thankful we are to have farmers. Farmers are the ones responsible for that morning coffee that helps get the day started, the clothes that make up our wardrobe, and that afternoon snack that helps give us the energy to get through the day.
The Rowan County Cooperative Extension and Chamber of Commerce, along with sponsors Carolina Farm Credit and Farm Bureau, held a farmer appreciation breakfast to show thanks and appreciation for the hard work and dedication that farmers devote to providing the necessary nutrients and fiber essential for our daily lives.
More than 78 farmers and their families from across Rowan County came to Salem Lutheran Church to enjoy a wonderful breakfast that consisted of eggs, sausage, grits, biscuits, jellies, sweet potato butter, milk, orange juice, coffee and grape juice.
The eggs were donated by the Piedmont Research Station, jellies by Patterson Farms, grape juice by Cauble Creek Vineyards, and the sweet potato butter by Open Season foods. The rest of the food was either grown locally or from North Carolina producers.
Also in attendance was guest speaker Dr. Richard C. Reich, who serves as the assistant commissioner of agriculture for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Here are some statistics that are worth mentioning:
• In 1910, there were 253,725 farms in North Carolina; in 2007, the state had dropped to having only 52,913 farms.
• Agriculture is a $77 billion industry in North Carolina and accounts for 17 percent of the state’s economy.
• Broilers, hogs and turkeys make up the top three agriculture commodities produced in North Carolina, accounting for $6.3 billion.
• Nationally, North Carolina ranks first in tobacco and sweet potatoes, second in poultry, hogs, turkeys, Christmas trees and trout.
• North Carolina is third in fresh market strawberries and processing pickles.
• North Carolina ranks fourth in nursery production, upland cotton and bell peppers.
• North Carolina is also fifth in broilers and peanut production.
• North Carolina has 290 dairies, including six organic dairies, with an average of 184 cows, and produced 934 million pounds of milk in 2013.
• There are 119 wineries and 400 vineyards on 1,800 acres, and the annual economic impact of the N.C. Wine and Grape industry equals $1.28 billion.
• Rowan County had over 900 farms in 2012, with total production receipts equaling over $50 million.
As you can see, agriculture is the No. 1 industry in North Carolina, and Rowan County is a major contributor. So I encourage everyone to try and get to know their local farmers and thank them for what they do. Farmers make their living providing the things we need to sustain and enjoy life. So on behalf of the N.C. Cooperative Extension staff, I would like to say thank you to the farmers for your hard work and dedication.

Thomas Cobb serves as the livestock-dairy-field crops agent for Rowan County. For more information, contact Rowan Cooperative Extension Service at 704-216-8970 or thomas_cobb@ncsu.edu .

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