Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Georgia Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Yesterday in Brunswick

While delivering his annual address at the 71st Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Convention, Dec. 7, GFB President Zippy Duvall encouraged the organization’s membership to embrace change to ensure the viability of Georgia agriculture.

“Never before have we been faced with so much change. Change is a choice and we have the opportunity to either reject it and face possible elimination or embrace it and move through the transition,” Duvall said. “While much is changing, our mission will always be focused on the enhancement of agriculture.”

Embracing change was an appropriate theme for the morning as six of the 20 individuals who have publicly expressed their intention to enter the 2010 Georgia gubernatorial race took the stage and briefly addressed the convention attendees. Those speaking included U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-U.S. Dist. 9) of Gainesville, former Georgia Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah (R-Dist. 1), who resigned his office earlier this year to run for governor; Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (R), Georgia Rep. DuBose Porter (D-Dist. 143), leader of the House Democratic Caucus since 2005, David Poythress (D), former state labor commissioner from 1992 to 1998 and secretary of state from 1979 to 1983, and Georgia Rep. Austin Scott (R-Dist. 153) of Ashburn, who chairs the House Governmental Affairs Committee.

Following brief comments from the gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke to the GFB convention attendees about the importance of Georgia agriculture to the state’s economy.

GFB extended special recognition to Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin for his long-time service to Georgia’s farmers with a tribute video.
Irvin, who has served as agriculture commissioner for 41 years, was recognized for his efforts to secure the stability of Georgia agriculture by pursuing international trade opportunities for Georgia commodities such as poultry and pecans, eradicating livestock diseases and crop pests and working with legislators and agricultural groups, such as Farm Bureau, to pass laws beneficial to farmers. During his tenure Irvin has expanded and improved the state’s network of farmers’ markets across the state, which has provided farmers with an avenue to sell their commodities for years. On the national level, he has worked with other states to coordinate eradication programs for livestock diseases such as cattle brucellosis and crop pests such as the boll weevil. Internationally, thanks in parts to his efforts, Russia bought more than $800 million worth of U.S.-raised broilers last year while China imported $396.5 million in broilers.

“Tommy Irvin has worked tirelessly for Georgia’s farmers, on the state, national and international arenas,” Duvall said. “He’s been a great partner of mine for the three years I’ve served as Farm Bureau president, and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to serve with.”

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