If we told you Alabama used to be an agricultural state most of you would nod your heads in agreement. If I told you it still was many of you would say “No way.” Well, you would be dead wrong.

Agriculture, forestry and their related industries account for a staggering 41 percent of Alabama’s $174 billion economy and provide 22 percent of all the jobs in the state.

Specifically, based on 2010 farm data, agriculture, forestry and related industries pump $70.4 billion into the state’s economy and employ 580,295 people.

So you see, while airplanes, cars and stuff are important, Alabama’s bread and butter is still, well, bread and butter. Or, technically, chicken and beef and eggs and the paper and cardboard we package them in.

Timber production and processing is the largest single contributor, generating $21.4 billion and 122,000 jobs followed by poultry and egg production and processing at $!{44c616e11cf70d617c8dd92fb0bc15f41001df771f775c6b004238009c89a3f0}.! billion and 86,250 jobs.

Alabama’s other top crops are greenhouse, nursery and flowers; beef cattle; cotton; and soybeans, corn and wheat.

Peanuts and catfish are also important.

It will probably come as a surprise to many of our younger residents but Opelika, not so many years ago, was a cotton town, replete with gins and warehouses all along the two railroads, and cotton merchants galore.

Weil Brothers Cotton Merchants, at one time time the largest and best-known cotton trading firm in the world was “born” on the second floor of the brick building on the corner of South Railroad Avenue and South Eighth Street.

Thanks to the Lee County Farmers Federation you can get a look, and show your children, what agriculture is like today and what it was like yesterday.

These good folks are putting on an Agricultural Fair at the Lee County Fair Grounds from 10 until 2 tomorrow, June 8.

Not only is admission free, but they will feed you free BBQ. THere’ll be livestock exhibits, exhibits of old cars and tractors and all sorts of prize drawings. The grand prize to be given away is a grill and a supply of steaks.

There will also be locally grown farm produce on sale: tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, greens and other delectibles.