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One more blow chalked up to COVID
We're going to miss it, that's for sure. Each November, One Martin and the Martin County Farm Bureau co-sponsor a farm-to-table luncheon and panel discussion to celebrate National Farm-City Week in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
It's always a sell-out affair, with more than 200 attendees just last year, sharing its locally grown, produced, and prepared meal fit for kings.
Just as invigorating are the thought-provoking panel discussions and keynote addresses from experts and dignitaries that tackle a range of topics, from precision farming's amazing technical capabilities and advances to the latest updates of the Best Management Practices for farms and ranches to the real-life issues faced by today's small farms.
COVID-19 interfered this year, as with many other celebrations, canceling our signature event for 2020. We could not be more disappointed.
It's somewhat ironic that COVID-19 is responsible for the cancellation, considering that the COVID crisis itself elevated public awareness to the need for a secure food supply. We suddenly came face to face with food shortages and supply disruptions that, previously, few people had imagined.
We need to talk about that further. We need to understand how to prevent any event – or foreign actor – from holding us hostage by threatening our food supply. We need to ensure its security.
The first step, of course, is to protect our agricultural lands in order to produce the food we need. We need also to protect the solvency of our farms and ranches, and we need to attract more young people into the farming and ranching profession.
All of these are monumental tasks that take a concerted effort. As with all things, we start by building awareness – the very purpose of Farm-City Week's recognition of our critical partnerships between rural and urban communities in supplying safe food to our kitchens.
It's not just about farmers and ranchers, however. It's a celebration of our discerning consumers who look for Florida-grown products, and the shippers, the packers, the scientists, the ecologists, and geologists who all contribute to our abundant food supply.
It recognizes Florida farmers and ranchers as the first stewards of our natural resources, who understand that both rural and urban areas must commit to protecting our natural resources and diverse ecosystems in order for agriculture to thrive.
It's also a time to celebrate agriculture as the second largest economic driver in the state, behind only tourism. Florida agriculture, natural resource, and food industries employ more than two million individuals and annually contribute $146 billion to Florida’s economy, according to state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs statistics.
Yes, Florida's agricultural industry has much to celebrate, as well as many challenges to tackle. We're anxious to continue our conversation.
That's also the advantage of country folk breaking bread with city folk (and we believe that everybody has a little bit of country inside) since you'll get to know each other on an entirely new level.
We believe the best conversations are those that happen around a dining table, and we'll definitely miss the conversations we would have had this week during our annual Farm-City Luncheon.
We'll be back next fall, though. You can count on that.