By Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
State's farming sector strong under experienced incumbent
Georgia founded its Department of Agriculture in 1874 at the urging of Gov. James M. Smith. He rightly saw the need for a government department to oversee the growth of a vital sector of the state’s economy.
Today, agriculture pumps about $77 billion annually into the state’s economy, in no small part because of aggressive marketing and economic development.
For that reason, and many more, Black deserves your vote for his re-election in November.
One aspect of Georgia Grown seizes on the rediscovered trendiness of good food. The program connects chefs and farmers through a partnership between the Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Restaurant Association. Distributors and retailers pitch in as well to develop the state’s agricultural economy. It’s been a winning combination so far.
Foreign trade also has grown more robust under Black. China eats Georgia peanuts. Ghana uses Georgia fertilizer. Last fall he signed a trade deal with the oil-rich nation of Gabon, to help grow the country’s tiny agricultural footprint and open lucrative export opportunities for Georgia farmers, particularly in poultry.
As an administrator, his improvements in budgeting, training and compliance has raised his department’s morale.
Judging by the efficiency with which Black executes his duties as commissioner, you’d be forgiven if you think he views agriculture exclusively from behind a desk.
But he’s no stranger to dirt under his fingernails. Black and his family operate Harmony Grove Farms near Commerce, producing custom-fed beef.
For more than 20 years before becoming agriculture commissioner, Black was president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. His degree from the University of Georgia is in agricultural education.
We don’t know if Black still can fit into his old high-school Future Farmers of America jacket, but he’s still a great fit to lead Georgia agriculture. Please vote for him Nov. 4.