As consumers, Georgia families expect and deserve a safe and secure food supply. My job as Georgia's Commissioner of Agriculture will be to ensure that all food safety responsibilities of the Department are administered in a fair and professional manner, and to the fullest extent allowed by state and federal law. The Department's focus, under my leadership, will be the use of the most up-to-date, uniform rules and regulations, thus allowing our products to move freely throughout the United States and the world. Our industry must operate with the knowledge that the regulations applied are strictly science-based. Food safety cannot be compromised even during tough budget times. The safety of Georgia's food supply cannot be subject to budget cuts and furloughs.
Consumers, retailers, processors and farmers are bound by a sacred trust that must be enhanced because public health and a strong agricultural economy are compatible priorities. We must work together to improve the long-held reputation of Georgia agriculture and food products being the best and the safest in the world market.
Plan of Action
The Department's food safety employees must be provided with the latest, most relevant technical training available to regulate today's high tech food industry. Improving the management strategy for those on the frontline of food safety is a must as well. These highly trained, properly equipped and motivated employees can rest assured that they will have the complete backing of the Commissioner's office during my tenure.
Food safety must be a 24/7 mindset for all involved from farm to fork. Food pathogens or rodent infestations do not take weekends off. A strong partnership between industry and the regulators must be developed to insure full time food safety for our consuming public. When infractions are found at a regulated business, we will ensure that those violations are swiftly corrected. I will build trust with our citizens by instituting high standards of accountability internally and in the marketplace.
Georgia's food safety regulatory process must shift to a culture focused on prevention. Prevention is the key to avoiding food-borne illness outbreaks. Georgia is blessed to have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the area of food safety and security at our institutions of higher learning. I will use my experience to cooperate with food safety specialists from the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech to certify that our food safety prevention measures are the strongest possible.
It's time to do it the right way... Safe Food, Strong Farms and a Responsible Government. I am very interested in hearing from you. After reading my Plan of Action, please send me an email, send me a message on facebook, or call the campaign to offer your suggestions and additional comments. We'll start here, but we still have much to do on issues ranging from companion animals, water resource management and biofuel development, just to name a few. Your input is vital and will always be respected.