Acquainting urban people with rural life



National Farm City Week was Nov. 21-27.

Each year, Belmont County Farm Bureau has its county fair; pumpkin festival; safety farm programs; pick-your-own, organically grown and farmers’ markets; strawberry festivals; earth day; and farm tours and “ag in the classroom.”

All are meant to acquaint urban people with rural life.

We know agriculture was America’s first industry through necessity. It has always been the cornerstone of our nation’s way of life.

Farmers and ranchers rely on essential partnerships with urban and suburban communities to supply, sell and deliver finished products across the nation and around the world.

Agriculture employs 24 million workers.

Included are farmers, ranchers, shippers, sale barn employees, processors, marketers, retailers, truck drivers, inspectors and others.

Agriculture contributed more than $1.3 trillion to our gross domestic product, according to statistics from the American Farm Bureau.

American Farm Bureau statistics show farmers are stewards of the land, with 2,400 acres of grassed waterways, 17,150 acres of filter strips and 6,000 acres of riparian forest barriers put in from 1998 to 2001.

Maybe we should tell those who may be thinking of moving to rural areas some of what they should expect.

Wild turkeys, coyotes, deer, skunks, raccoons, moles or squirrels can eat new shrubs and plants, flower bulbs, bird seed and trees.

Some may kill small animals or bite children. Some raccoons may be rabid.

Mice, rats, flies, bees, spiders, worms and Asian lady beetles are plentiful. Cats and dogs are very useful but can also be a nuisance at times.

There will be dust in dry weather, mud in wet weather, snow drifts or sleet in winter.

In many cases you must maintain your own water and sewage systems.

There are noises and bad odors from spreading manure or sludge, and dust from spreading lime or using hay balers or other machines.

Farmers may work late in the fields, especially if a storm is coming.

Recently I read some “good neighbor tips for farmers” taken from the Ohio Livestock Industry Task Force.

It cautioned farmers not to spread manure on Fridays, especially before a holiday. Spread it so that there is no runoff and explain that it is a good soil nutrient.

And ask your neighbors when they expect company.

Tell why you are working late at night or on weekends.

Educate whenever possible and invite the children to see new pigs, calves, lambs or chickens. Have an open house or picnic.

Be helpful in winter. Use your tractor and blade to dig them out, but be careful about getting on their grass.

I would add a couple rules: Good fences make good neighbors, and try to keep your animals, especially the bull, at home.

Teach the dangers of electric fences, farm ponds and trap doors.

And be sure you have liability insurance. You can ask Farm Bureau to help.

Glenna Cain

Belmont, Pa.

(The author is also the information coordinator for Belmont County Farm Bureau.)


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!