Gary Black Encourages Strong Family Farms
Thursday, October 14th, 2010
Strong Family Farms - a Key to Creating Jobs and Enhancing Georgia’s Economy
Agriculture is Georgia’s first and largest industry yet farmers are too often taken for granted as the politicians focus on newer industries. Agriculture needs to be front and center in policymakers’ minds every day because it is an industry of the future as well as the foundation on which Georgia was built.
The total economic impact of Georgia’s farms and forests tops $65 billion annually. For roughly two-thirds of our counties, agriculture represents the single largest component of the local economy. Since the average farmer produces enough to serve his or her family and 155 other citizens here and abroad, enhancing the strength of our agricultural sector is essential to the well-being of every Georgian.
Just as farm families have adapted their business plans to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must make the same changes at the Department of Agriculture. Georgia is a national leader in peanut, cotton, fruit, vegetable and horticultural production. Our renewable fuels industry is maturing. Our forests yield products used on a global scale. We see our turfgrass varieties on television at major sporting events. Citizens on every continent enjoy our poultry products every week. Maintaining a preeminent position in these sectors requires leadership. Growing these sectors in the future will demand a creative vision.
I have a relevant plan that will help accomplish these goals. We must expand online capabilities of the department to include real time market information, license purchase, renewal and reporting services. I will work jointly with the Office of the Governor, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and others to represent the business of agriculture on every major domestic and international trade mission. Agricultural interests must be a mainstream consideration of our state’s overall economic development strategy. I wil use my experience to work jointly with state and federal agencies on natural resource issues. From farm, landscape and processing uses of water to the control of feral swine, cross-agency cooperation will be more vital than ever in the future.
Earth’s population in 2050 is estimated to soar to 9 billion. Projections indicate that on average this population’s appetite will double during this period which means that farmers will have to produce as much food and fiber in 2050 as was produced since the dawn time. Continued investments in public research which will lead to new plant varieties for food, fiber, fuel and nutriceuticals are essential to our quality of life in the future and Georgia must lead the way into that future.
As I have for 29 years, I will serve as a voice for Georgia producers on the state and national stage. Educating 98% of our citizens who do not live on farms about the importance of fair trade policies and food safety must be a priority.
Closer to home, many Georgians have discovered the advantages and fresh tastes of locally produced products. We will improve marketing services to Georgia communities, encourage more farmers to capitalize on local market opportunities, thus improving the value of the fresh and processed products we produce. Our markets should be safe, one-stop shops for all things grown and produced in Georgia and provide citizens with a sustainable connection to Georgia’s true conservationists, our farmers.
Safe Food, Strong Farms and a Responsible Government. It is a big job. I am ready for work.