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Cows (almost) outnumber residents

There are more than 1,096 reasons why Covington County residents should celebrate October as National Beef Month.

Woody Clark, chairman of the county chapter of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, said this is the 46th consecutive the year state government has recognized the importance of the cattle industry.

“According to the most recent figures, Covington County has 1,096 farms with an average size of 183 acres, and we are home to more than 32,000 head of cattle and calves,” Clark said. “Covington County ranks 11th among all the counties in the state in the cattle industry. In 2009, local cattle farms accounted for $8.5 million in cash receipts.

“And, pardon the pun, but that’s no bull,” he said. “Beef is a healthy and wholesome food, but it’s raised by hard working families right here in Alabama and Covington County.

As a way to promote the beef industry, ACA chapters from across the state donned their boots and hats and headed into elementary school classrooms last week to help out with the national “Read for the Record” program.

Locally, Clark read to students at Straughn Elementary School on Oct. 7.

“This is our way of doing our part to bring attention to the connection to farm life, and to give students the opportunity to talk openly about where our food comes from and who the people are behind the modern beef industry,” he said.

“It was really fun to go in and interact with the kids at Straughn Elementary,” he said. “I read to two first grade classrooms and then gave the books to the teachers to keep before I left. The kids were excited, and I look forward to doing it again.”

The beef industry is the second largest segment of Alabama’s farm economy representing a $2 billion industry with annual sales of cattle and calves exceeding $469 million. The Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, founded in 1944, is one of the nation’s largest state cattlemen’s associations with an annual membership of 12,000.

For more information, visit the ACA Web site at www.bamabeef.org.Woody Clark is shown with first grade students at Straughn Elementary School last week when he read to them as part of the “Read for the Record” program.                                                                                    |                             Courtesy photo