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November 19, 2009   Email to Friend 

ANNUAL FARM-CITY WEEK FOCUSES ON ANIMAL CARE
Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
November 19, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala. --  When Alabama farmers observe National Farm-City Week this year, they'll be addressing a growing campaign of misinformation from animal activists, according to Jeff Helms, director of communications for the Alabama Farmers Federation who also serves as the chairman of the Alabama Farm-City Committee.

"With fewer and fewer people having a farming heritage, issues like animal care, environmental stewardship and food safety are becoming points of conflict between rural and urban residents," said Helms, who is also a member of the National Farm-City board of directors. "As a result, the National Farm-City Committee, as part of a new strategic plan, has committed to focusing Farm-City activities on a major issue each year. This year, that issue is animal care."

Farm-City Week is observed Nov. 20-26 in states all across America. The annual "kickoff banquet" and a symposium discussing animal care was held today in Indianapolis, Ind.

In Alabama, state and county volunteers are gearing local activities to match the national strategy. For example, Helms said, the Alabama Farm-City Committee is embracing this year's issue by establishing "Farmers Care -- For Animals and You" as the theme for its annual student poster and essay contests. The poster and essay contest winners are recognized, along with the efforts of Alabama's county Farmers Federations, during the annual Alabama Farm-City Awards each April.

The effort to educate a growing non-farming public on such topical issues is also part of the American Farm Bureau Federation's "Conversations On Care" campaign. By providing facts about farming and engaging in a forum-like discussion of the issues, the campaign's Web site, ConversationsOnCare.com, seeks to dispel the myths about farming.

The Web site also features testimonials from farmers such as Lamar County dairyman Will Gilmer. "I am the third generation on my family's Holstein farm," Gilmer's testimonial reads. "Good care and healthy animals lead to safe food and a viable cattle operation. That's why we have our calving heifers on a nutrition regiment that is set by our nutritionist. We keep our cows on pasture and supplement with hay so they have plenty to eat. We provide access to barns to provide the herd shelter, and in the summer we have fans and sprinklers in the barn to keep them cool. The health of these animals is tied to our livelihood. I have a son that's 2 years old, and I want him to have the option to, someday, join a strong viable business."

Since 1955, the National Farm-City Council has supported educational programming to build interdependence between rural and urban citizens, and the President of the United Sates has annually proclaimed the week leading to and including Thanksgiving Day as National Farm-City Week. For more information, visit www.FarmCity.org.


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