Saturday, 17 August 2013

Annual Agricultural Celebration puts focus on farmers By Marcia MorrisBy Marcia Morris Read more here:

There was no red carpet or phalanx of photographers, but there was a buzz of celebration and excitement in the air as folks gathered for the eighth annual Agricultural Celebration on July 30. Instead of evening gowns and tuxedos, attendees wore T-shirts and dungarees to this event where farmers have the rare opportunity to socialize.

The celebration, coordinated by the Cabarrus County Agricultural Advisory Board and the local cooperative extension, brings together everyone registered with the county’s voluntary agricultural districts and others who support local agriculture.

To get the scoop on voluntary agricultural districts, I talked to Tommy Porter, chairman of the county’s Agricultural Advisory Board. He and his wife, Vicky, hosted the Agricultural Celebration at their cattle farm.

Tommy Porter explained that the ordinance creating voluntary agricultural districts was passed by county commissioners in 2005. It allows farmers to enroll their land, designating it for agricultural use. Farmers who enroll in the enhanced program agree that the land will not be developed for 10 years.

Farming’s influence helped by districts

Not only does the creation of voluntary agricultural districts promote pride and economic health in agriculture, it also sends a message about development.

When a piece of land is designated as a voluntary agricultural district, that information will show up in title searches. Porter says that anyone looking to buy or develop land adjacent to a voluntary agricultural district should know what to expect from their neighbors: slow-moving vehicles and animal smells, among other things that go along with farming.

Likewise, county government knows what to expect when land is placed in voluntary agricultural districts: It tells them that they don’t need to plan for development – sewer and water service, roads and schools – for that property.

But most importantly, says Porter, the voluntary agricultural district ordinance gives farmers a stronger voice than ever before. Politicians, he believes, are often far removed from agricultural life, and farmers joining together to promote their way of life impacts their influence in local government. Porter’s seen the difference voluntary agricultural districts have made, and he’s always encouraging more farmers to enroll, to turn up the volume on the voice of the agricultural community.

The agricultural celebration was a time to make that voice heard to elected officials in attendance, including a representative from U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson’s office.

Farmers’ biggest social event

But most of all, the gathering was a time to visit with friends and neighbors, and to enjoy a delicious meal.

Tommy Porter says that this is the big social event of the year for farmers, when they can take some time to relax and appreciate their rural way of life. He likens it to the old days when people would gather after a harvest to socialize and give thanks.

This year’s celebration included hamburgers and hot dogs, cobs of corn as long as your forearm, and homemade peach and blueberry ice cream, freshly cranked by tractor engine.

It may not have been fancy, but it was good … just like living in rural Cabarrus.
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at

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