Monroe County's Mathis steps into national competition
Monroe County’s Melissa Mathis, who in October won the GFB Excellence in Agriculture Award, will appear in the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Discussion Meet, which takes place during the AFBF Virtual Convention this week. The Excellence in Agriculture presentations begin at 2 p.m. on Jan. 11.
Mathis promotes agriculture in hopes of preserving the way of life that has been in her family for at least five generations.
“It’s a completely different way of doing things, the values and what we teach them on the farm,” said Mathis, who serves as vice president for Monroe County Farm Bureau while operating farm supply stores in Barnesville, Monticello and Bolingbroke.
“It’s hard work, providing for yourself and that independent part of what that teaches you.”
Mathis, who also runs a 65-acre cattle farm with her husband, Bobby, has worked extensively to educate her community about the importance of agriculture, but her effort faces a growing challenge: access to land.
Monroe County is between metro Atlanta and Macon-Bibb County. Growth of both of these areas is pushing real estate development in Monroe, putting a squeeze on farmland in the county.
“All the land is being bought up by developers and it’s being turned into residential neighborhoods or industry,” Mathis said.
To counter this issue, Mathis works to inform local policymakers how important agriculture is to the local economy. According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development, Monroe farmers sold more than $48 million worth of products in 2018. Mathis thinks an option to curb loss of farmland may be requiring municipalities to implement local farmland conservation ordinances to qualify for some types of state funding, a practice that other states have put in place.
“I would move toward something like that to be able to continue to preserve our land, we’ve got to be able to work with our local governments to help strengthen that support,” Mathis said.
To watch Mathis in competition and participate in other AFBF Convention events, regsiter at https://registration.experientevent.com/ShowAFB211/.