National Farm-City Week, an annual event recognized with a White House proclamation, will be observed Nov. 20 to 26, ending on Thanksgiving Day. The National Farm-City Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the connection between farmers and their urban consumers, organizes this event. In an effort to educate consumers about how their food is grown, the NFCC is using the weeklong celebration to correct some of the misconceptions consumers may have about livestock production.

Farmers do a lot to ensure that the food that reaches our consumers is safe. I eat the food and so does my family, so I want it to be healthy just as much as any other consumer,” said Wayne Hurley.  “I’m a farmer, but my farm is a business. As a businessman it’s my job to produce the highest quality food product possible for the people who will consume the food I grow. This means raising healthy animals to produce a healthy product.”

      Because farmers recognize that superior animal welfare practices lead to the production of high-quality, safe meat, milk and eggs, they constantly seek ways to improve the well-being and comfort of their animals. One way of doing this is to provide adequate food, water and medical care to protect the health of their animals. Farmers also provide shelter appropriate to their farming operation to protect their animals from disease, injury and predators. National and state quality assurance programs provide farmers with guidelines for the production of safe, wholesome animals, including recommendations on necessary animal handling and facilities.

      “The standard of care we provide our animals and production practices we follow is based on the recommendations of animal scientists at leading agricultural colleges who have conducted research to determine the best way to raise healthy, productive animals,” said Hurley. “Standards for animal care should be based on the expertise of veterinarians, farmers and animal scientists who work with farm animals daily. Any changes to animal well-being guidelines should be based on data, expert analysis and economic feasibility. Adding unnecessary costs to U.S. production will increase the amount of food imported from places that have an inferior record on food safety and animal well-being.”

      Farmers give their livestock immunizations under the direction of veterinarians to build the animals’ defenses against diseases that once hindered livestock production in this country. This preventative measure is used to keep the animals as healthy as possible and to lessen the need for unnecessary medical care and the use of unnecessary antibiotics. Sometimes, farmers give animals antibiotics to prevent illness. Countries, such as Denmark, that have outlawed the use of preventative antibiotics are now using more antibiotics to treat sick animals, according to the report “Lessons from the Danish Ban on Feed-Grade Antibiotics,” published by Iowa State University.

      “Farmers face increasing threats from activists advocating legislation that fails to utilize the expertise of veterinarians, animal scientists and experienced farmers that could result in higher food costs and lower food safety,” said Hurley.  “The animal care practices most farmers follow produces high-quality, wholesome meat, milk and eggs for our consumers. With the international challenges America faces today, providing this country with a safe, nutritious and affordable food supply has never been more important. That’s why most farmers are committed to ensuring that our animals are safe, healthy and content, so they will produce healthy food for our country.

      The Chattooga County Farm Bureau currently has 3,000+ members and is affiliated with the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation headquartered in Macon, Ga. Founded in 1937; Georgia Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia.