Wallace Poultry Farm in Blairsville, Georgia
Agriculture is a big part of the economy in Union County generating over $30 million a year in revenues. According to Mickey Cummings, Union County is among the top 50 Georgia counties in agricultural production.
Local agriculture is diverse and takes many forms. From rolling pastures and fields, to honeybee hives and trout ponds, small farms contribute to the Blairsville, Georgia economy and to the beauty of the area.
Ornamental agriculture is also big business in Union County, generating $15 to $18 million a year. This includes greenhouses, nurseries, flowers, shrubs, and landscape businesses. Next is the poultry business which generates $10 to $15 million a year. Beef comes in third, generating around $1.5 million dollars a year. Dairy, fish, hay and grains including sweet sorghum, vegetables (collards, sweet corn, pumpkins, cabbage, peppers, pole beans), honey, and burley tobacco production round out the list.
Agri-tourism is also becoming a major part of agriculture in Union County, as it is in the rest of the U.S. Attractions like Southern Tree Plantation are becoming very popular. Agri-tourism is big business and may possibly be extremely important in the near future. "Many people in Atlanta are willing to pay big money to spend a day on the farm," says Cummings.
Even though agriculture is alive and well in Union County , the past eight to ten years has seen a decrease in family farming. "Old farmers retire or die and the young people can get more money for the land than they can from farming," says Cummings. Thank goodness, there are still people that see the value in hanging on to the family farm!
Wallace Poultry Farm has been in business for almost 30 years. Owned and operated by Johnny and Nancy Wallace, the poultry farm has seen many changes.
Wallace says, "Everything used to be done by hand. Now a lot is automated. It's a good life, we make a good living."
Currently contracting with Morris Hatchery, the Wallace Poultry Farm produces hatchery eggs. Johnny addss, "Production is up. We're running at full production right now, getting about 4,800 eggs a day."
The Wallace's chicken house is currently home to 7,000 birds. They are a large breed called "hubbards". The eggs are shipped all over the world.
The birds must be feed and watered. The eggs have to be gathered and graded. Johnny says, "Eggs have to be kept at 62 to 65 degrees. They have to be kept in a room with the correct 80-85% humidity. We also practice bio-security. Even before the bird-flu scare, we monitored things carefully."
The Wallace's say they have no plans to sell. "Farming is in our blood."
There are many folks in Union County that don't intend to give up the family farm. Thanks to people like Johnny and Nancy Wallace, Union County continues to be a thriving agricultural community.