During the first two weeks of June, the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be conducting its annual farming survey in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida.
NASS will gather and publish accurate and up-to-date information on production and land use related to food crops, livestock, grains, and other commodities for each state in the survey region. Legislators, policy makers, environmental groups, and investors will then use these statistics to make decisions and implement legislation that will affect the agricultural industry in the southeast for years to come.
Jutt Howard is an outspoken advocate for agri-business issues in Georgia. He is an advisory board member of Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry (AGL) an educational outreach of the University of Georgia’s Colleges of Agriculture and Environmental Science. Howard also serves as Director of Sales at NG Turf, a successful family-owned sod farming company headquartered in Whitesburg, Georgia.
“Agriculture, in its many forms, contributes $70 billion to the Georgia economy each year, accounting for approximately 10% of the state’s total economy,” Howard says. “In fact, one in seven Georgians works in some capacity in the agricultural sector. So, yes, the business of agriculture is vital to the economic success of our state.”
Howard continues,“Farms are disappearing across America, but the largest decrease in farmland over the last decade is in the southern states. We’ve lost over 10% of our farmland here in Georgia in that time.”
“The average age of farmers in Georgia is now 60 years old, but the average age of working adults in our state is only 39,” Howard adds. “We must continue to show the younger generation that Georgia agriculture is a viable way to make a living and provide for your family, both now and in the future.”
Total acreage of farmland is down across the state, but production is actually up. New technologies, agri-business centered legislation, and informed water-usage policies have all contributed to widespread growth in many areas of Georgia agriculture, including poultry, cotton, peanuts, orchard products, and livestock feed.
Howard adds,“To support continued growth of agricultural business here in Georgia, our legislators and policy makers must have the most complete and accurate data to work with.”
“That’s why it is vital for all Georgia farmers to participate fully in the NASS survey in the coming weeks,” cautions Howard. “You may be contacted by phone or mail. Some survey components are even available online. If you are new to farming in Georgia or have recently changed your mailing address or phone number, please be proactive and contact the Southern Regional Field Office of the USDA in Athens, GA at (706) 546-2236.”
Jutt Howard is Director of Sales at NG Turf and an alumnus of the 2012-2014 class of the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry (AGL) program. As an AGL advisory board member, he helps shape the upcoming curriculum, participates in candidate selection, and advocates on behalf of agricultural business owners and farmers in Georgia.
NG Turf (ngturf.com) is a family-owned and operated turfgrass grower with over 2,500 acres at six locations across Georgia. Members of the Urban Ag Council, the Georgia Green Industry Association, and certified by GCIA (the Georgia Crop Improvement Association), their 10 proprietary varieties of sod include Zeon Zoysia, TifGrand and TifWay Bermuda, Rebel Supreme Fescue, and TifBlair Centipede. Founded in 1985, NG Turf has become Georgia’s premier sod grower and supplier for landscape professionals, golf course developers and superintendents, athletic field managers, municipalities, and homeowners.