We talk a lot about our booming economy in Wilson County; all the new industries that are bringing in new jobs and sales tax dollars. While this is wonderful news for our county, perhaps we don't celebrate, as often, the hard-working men and women who leave their homes each morning to go the barn rather than the office, put on a pair of overalls instead of a suit or uniform, climb up on a tractor, not board the Music City Star. In light of this, let's take a look at the role agriculture plays in Wilson County.
Whether you realize it, or not, agriculture affects your everyday life from the food you eat to the products you use to get ready for the day ahead.
"Most people think of agriculture as cows, milk and bread, but it is much more," said Ruth Correll, agricultural agent and county director. "Farmers produce many products, not just plant crops and meat. It's impossible to get in a car and drive on a paved road without agriculture being involved. What about the cosmetics and personal care products that people use daily? What about many of the medicines and other health-related products that come from agriculture? What about heart valves, insulin, health products for burn victims? Almost all sports have some component that originates with agriculture.
"There are many types of farms. The primary purpose of agriculture is to produce the food we eat. However, non-edible parts of plants and animals are used to make many additional products we use every day. In addition to food, agriculture provides fiber, housing and biofuels. Agriculture connects to your life every single day and in every single way," Correll added.
Of the 95 Tennessee counties, Wilson ranks among the top ten for value of sales for fruits, tree nuts and berries; cut Christmas trees and short rotation woody crops; other crops and hay; sheep, goats, wool, mohair and milk; horses, ponies, mules, burros and donkeys and other animals and other animal products. We are number 5 in the state for forage-land used for all hay and haylage, grass silage and greenchop. Wilson County is the number one county in the state for goats as the top livestock inventory. You can see Wilson County is a top contender in the state when it comes to agriculture.
The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) has invested over $106,000,000 in producer projects across the state form FY 2006 through FY 2015. Of that amount over $2,000,000 was invested in projects in Wilson County. Projects include things like Livestock Equipment and Feed storage, Hay and Grain Storage and Agriculture Education Programs. It's also important to note that according to the University of Tennessee Agri-industry Modeling & Analysis Group, each TAEP dollar generates $3.89 in local economies and 4,654 jobs have been created as a result of TAEP investments.
The most recent Census of Agriculture, conducted in 2012, notes that Wilson County has over 1,450 farms totaling 188,222 acres. Wilson County has a total land acreage of approximately 365,330 acres meaning over half of our county is farmland. Of the 1,450 farms, 84 are registered as century farms. The market value of products sold is $18,386,000 with sales tax being 9.25 percent that means over $1,700,000 of sales tax from agricultural products went to benefit our school system. (State law dictates that half of all sales tax go towards education, in Wilson County, all sales tax goes to education).
So the next time you have a glass of milk with your scrambled eggs or go to the store for your produce just remember, a farmer made it possible.