Farming forecast is upbeat

Published 3:00 am Friday, November 20, 2015

When talking about farming, who better to lead the way than John Dorrill, former executive director of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Dorrill, program guest at the Wednesday meeting of the Brundidge Rotary Club, predicted the year 2016 to be an excellent opportunity for growers in the Southeast.

“California, which has experienced drought conditions for the last four years, produces most of our fruits and vegetables. In Alabama we are blessed with an abundant water supply so we have a good opportunity to grow in the fruits and vegetables markets.”

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Dorrill said Southern Classic Foods in Brundidge is expanding into the vegetable processing market and will offer local growers a ready market for produce for pickles, relishes and salsas.

Dorrill said food grown in the United States is safe and affordable.

“Americans spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food,” he said. “In Pakistan, they spend 50 percent of their income on food. In China, food consumes 32 percent of the average person’s budget.”

As food for thought, Dorrill added that, in the United States, only 19 cents of every dollar spent on food goes back to the producer.

As a member of the Farm-City Committee of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Dorrill highlighted the importance of the relationship between the rural and urban communities in Pike County and all across the nation.

“There are more people to thank than just the producers of our food and fiber,” he said. “Grocers, truck drivers, computer scientists, bankers, food scientists and meteorologists are among those who are vital to getting food and materials from the farm to families.’

Dorrill said the rural and urban communities rely on each other to provide the abundant American way of life.

“In the United States today, farmers are less than 1 percent of the population,” he said. “In 1955, one farmer produced enough food for 19 people. Today, one farmer produces enough food for 155 people. In the next 40 years, farmers will need to double their production to supply the world needs for food.”

Dorrill said landowners are practicing good stewardship that will protect the land for future generations.

“Since 1982, erosion has decreased 50 percent,” he said.

“The CRP increased the amount of forest land in Alabama. We produce 50 percent more trees than are used each year. Seventy-one percent of the land in Alabama is in trees and, for very person in Alabama, there are 4,000 trees. Growing trees produces clean air, clean water, controls erosion, provides wildlife habitats and beauty for us all to enjoy.”

Dorrill said Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remember the work of all those from farm to city who make the holiday meal possible.