2012 PRESS RELEASES
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February 15, 2012
WHICH FARMER FEEDS YOU?
Virginia Agriculture Week is March 4 – 10, 2012
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
At the American Farm Bureau convention in January 2012, Dave Barry told the assembled crowd that food does NOT come from the supermarket. “That’s so stupid,” he said. “It comes from the trucks parked behind the supermarket. Even I know that.”
Just a few years ago, he would have touched a nerve with such a statement; most Americans had little or no concept of how and where their food originated. But today, more and more consumers are quite informed about, and interested in, where their food starts out. They want to know which farmers feed them.
Many shop at farmers’ markets or buy their food through Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions just so they know the farmers who grow their food. They take advantage of every opportunity to buy directly from farmers themselves, or failing that, to purchase food that is produced locally, whether that means in their county or anywhere in Virginia.
“When we say locally grown, we mean grown in Virginia,” says Matt Lohr, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). “We encourage consumers to look for Virginia Grown or Virginia’s Finest products whenever possible. A great place for them to begin is VirginiaGrown.com.”
Lohr says that Virginia Agriculture Week, March 4 – 10, 2012, is the perfect time for people to learn which farmers feed them. For the second year, Agriculture Week is coupled with Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week. “I have two young children,” he says, “and I know first-hand that if you want to reach the parents, reach the kids. That’s why I’ll be reading the Ag Literacy book From Our Fields . . . to You to my son’s first grade class at Lacey Spring Elementary school and why Sandy Adams, our Deputy Commissioner, and I will read to a Keister Elementary class in Harrisonburg. Other employees of VDACS will do the same. Our Cabinet Secretary, State Veterinarian, State Apiarist, Marketing Director, Budget Director and many other VDACS employees will read to groups around the state. Employees and members of Virginia Farm Bureau are reading in every part of the state, too.”
Agriculture Week is an important celebration in Virginia because agriculture is the state’s largest industry and contributes $55 billion to the state’s economy each year. Agricultural exports add a very positive note to the state’s economy, with $2.26 billion in exports in 2010 and probably more in 2011. And agriculture is the one thing we all have in common; we all need food to fuel our bodies and beverages to quench our thirst.
“We will talk to students about our farms and our farmers,” Lohr said. “We’ll tell them that agriculture isn’t just corn and tomatoes. It includes livestock and seafood as well as crops, manufactured products as well as fresh-from-the-field products. It even includes tourism.” He will encourage students and teachers to go to VirginiaGrown.com to find a farm near them where they can pick strawberries or pumpkins, ride a pony, get lost in a corn maze or ride a barrel train. “Agritourism is a growing industry in Virginia,” he said, “and each year we have more farms that invite people to come and experience life on a farm first-hand.”
Click here for more information on Ag Week. For more information on Ag Literacy Week click here. If your school is interested in hosting a reader from VDACS, contact Elaine Lidholm at 804.786.7686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.