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June 26, 2003   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
June 26, 2003

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Ron Sparks, standing, unveils the new "Help Alabama Grow A+" promotional advertising campaign Thursday in Montgomery. Seated behind him are members of the State Agriculture and Industries Board, from left, Kenneth McMillan, Dickie Odom, Jr., Randy Owen and Lester Killebrew. Board members not pictured include Robert Pittman, Dorman Grace and Jim Kelley.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A new agricultural promotion program will allow Alabama consumers to know what they are buying was grown right here in their own state. When given a choice, consumers want to buy the freshest, best-tasting fruits, vegetables and produce, and that's grown in Alabama, according to Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.

Sparks officially launched the "Help Alabama Grow -- A+ Alabama Agriculture" program during a meeting of the new Agriculture and Industries Board Thursday morning at the Richard Beard Building in Montgomery.

The advertising campaign will include billboards and posters located throughout the state and television spots featuring Commissioner Sparks and his friend Randy Owen of the musical group "Alabama." The promotional program also includes point-of-sales posters for stores and markets and "crack and peel" labels that will actually be on the products to identify them as Alabama grown.

The public service TV spots feature Owen, who is one of the new agriculture and industries board members, and Sparks seated in rocking chairs on the porch of Owen's Ft. Payne cattle ranch. The two are shown talking about the importance of supporting Alabama farmers and ranchers.

The promotion includes all specialty crops produced in the state such as fruits, vegetables, greenhouse goods, Christmas trees, sods, nuts and new items such as satsumas.

"Specialty crops, including nuts, Christmas trees and greenhouse goods, generate more income for Alabama's farmers than cotton and peanuts," said Sparks. "We are losing farms every day, and we now have fewer than 47,000 viable farms operating in Alabama. I believe this advertising and promotional campaign will help keep more Alabama farmers in business."

Sparks said his office will be working with farmers markets, the Alabama Retail Association and farmers throughout the state to get their products labeled as A+ Alabama grown.

"Some of the best crops in the world are grown right here in Alabama," Sparks said. "When you help Alabama farmers, you help Alabama."

Funding for the "Help Alabama Grow A+" promotional advertising campaign is a part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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