The words "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation" are inscribed on the front of the Great Seal of our beloved State. Few remember that the words "Agriculture and Commerce" are found on the reverse side of the Seal. "Georgia," is the feminine form of "George," and in the Greek language is "a farmer." We have a rich farming heritage. The total economic impact of Georgia's farms and forests tops $58 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 150 other citizens here and abroad, enhancing the strength of our agricultural sector is essential to the well-being of every Georgian.
Plan of Action
I will be the top salesman of Georgia products in the national and international marketplace and the top advocate for farm families in the public arena. I will work with the new governor to include an agriculture component of every major trade mission conducted by Georgia officials. The team approach to "selling" Georgia is more efficient and effective.
My hope is that the new governor will also continue the tradition of the Governor's Agricultural Advisory Commission. If so, I pledge to work in concert with this group to ensure that agricultural matters are properly addressed and represented in the Executive Branch of state government.
Farmers and agribusiness professionals are busy people; they are busy growing their businesses in a tough economy.
Licensing, reporting and required training for farmers and agricultural businesses must transition into the information age. I pledge to make the services offered by the Georgia Dept of Agriculture more accessible, cost-effective, and technically relevant to the farmers and agribusinesses of this state. We will do this by offering online training modules, webcasts, and regularly available updates on laws and regulations pertaining to the businesses regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
To viably feed and clothe a rapidly growing world, farmers must have access to a wide array of safe technologies. I will be an advocate to ensure our farmers have the tools necessary to serve the rest of our citizens. If we are to remain competitive on the global scale, I firmly believe that investments in public research, the extension of those discoveries to our citizens and the marketplace must continue.
Closer to home, many Georgians have discovered the advantages and fresh tastes of locally produced products. I will work to improve marketing services to Georgia communities, encourage more farmers to capitalize on local market opportunities, thus improving the value of the myriad of 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. Finally, our publically supported campaigns for "Georgia Grown" products must be conducted with measurable goals to improve accountability to the taxpayer.
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.