If you attend my church, New Hope Baptist, and look at me, you know that food and eating is a VERY important event. Well, food does not grow on trees. It comes from hardworking farmers. Farming has always been an important part of life in south Alabama. For those of us who grew up around the agriculture industry, it’s sometimes hard to believe just how much it has changed before our eyes.
It used to be that farming meant going out to plow the dirt in the fields, planting seeds, fertilizing and then praying for rain. Today, technology is just as integral to farming as it is to any industry. A modern tractor can drive itself using GPS, leaving the operator to simply make sure nothing goes wrong.
But as much as new technology can make day-to-day chores in the agriculture industry easier, it can never replace the know-how that exists in the mind of a farmer. As the industry continues to evolve, the work that organizations like the local chapter of the FFA are doing to prepare young people for the future of farming is crucial.
Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of South Alabama Electric Cooperative’s members. I would imagine that anyone reading this either has firsthand experience with farming or knows someone who does. Your cooperative is no different. We were formed under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a reminder that the work of rural electric cooperatives and the farming community goes hand in hand.
You can read more about the local FFA chapter in this issue and the work they’re doing to expose more people to the agriculture industry. SAEC is proud to support their efforts, but that isn’t where our commitment to the farming community ends. While peanuts and cotton have long been agricultural staples in our area, we’re also fortunate to be home to many poultry houses. These farms represent a significant investment for the people who operate them, and they count each day on reliable electric service to power the technology that helps them run efficiently.
As vegetable farming becomes a more important part of the mix in this region, SAEC has also helped businesses like Southern Classic Foods and Magnolia Vegetable Processors get financial help through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program. These investments help foster growth in important parts of the agriculture industry that exist in places like Florida and California but have huge potential for farmers willing to invest locally.
At SAEC, we also know turning a profit as a farmer can be a challenge at the best of times, so we do everything in our power to help them run their operations cost-effectively. We offer special rates for irrigation and develop electric rates with the large poultry houses on our system in mind. We want to keep their costs down so they can be successful.
We do this because, as a cooperative, we believe in serving our community in ways that go beyond affordable and reliable service for our members. It’s the least we can do for our neighbors who work hard every day to make sure there’s food for our tables.