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FVSU event serves up Ham & Eggs, research and government


By: Georgia Farm Bureau
4/19/2017 11:22:30 AM


Visitors at the annual Fort Valley State University Ham & Egg Legislative Breakfast heard encouraging news about the just-approved state budget. The news from the federal level wasn't as rosy.

The event, first held in 1916, drew approximately 200 people and featured remarks from FVSU leaders, state elected officials and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-2nd District). Rep. Austin Scott (R-8th District) served as the event's master of ceremonies.

Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long spoke about the organization's mission to represent farmers in the legislative and public policy arenas while encouraging attendees to become GFB members.

"Representing agriculture in the legislative arena has now expanded to the regulatory area," Long said. "It has become so critical for us. The impact that government regulations have is not just in agriculture but in every rural community in Georgia. That's something that we are really monitoring."

Long also said GFB is in discussion with Mercer University about the possibility of providing Mercer's Atlanta campus with ag-related educational resources. Long encouraged FVSU to consider something similar.

FVSU President Dr. Paul Jones gave a brief history of the event, previously called the Ham & Egg Show and shared his thoughts on its enduring appeal.

"Everybody wants a chance to demonstrate excellence. The Ham & Egg Show at its core was an opportunity for people who rarely got a chance to shine, to show their expertise to the world," Jones said. "That is why I'm so proud to be the president of this great institution, because of its tradition of finding unique and innovative ways to help everyday people find their genius and demonstrate greatness."

Jones took the chance to point out the outreach efforts of the FVSU Cooperative Extension Service, the university's research and academic programs.

FVSU School of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences and Technology Dean Dr. Govind Kannan provided information about enrollment increases, a new bachelor's degree program in food science recently approved by the Georgia Board of Regents and FVSU student research into scutellaria, a medicinal plant withcompounds that can reduce the size of brain tumors. Kannan also discussed institutional research on parasite control for small ruminant animals, such as goats and sheep.

"The main problem in small ruminant production is control of internal parasites, because the parasites can become resistant to chemical drugs we use," Kannan said. "So we found that a forage called sericea lespedeza, which is high in condensed tannin, can control internal parasites."

FVSU Extension Administrator Dr. Mark Latimore Jr. talked about the school's achievements. These included a public health initiative in which 74 percent of participants showed improved nutrition with better planning of meals, making healthier food choices and reducing salt intake.

"We're really excited about our ability to reach the masses throughout the state of Georgia," Latimore said.

Georgia Rep. Patty Bentley (D-District 139) gave a brief review of key pieces of legislation affecting rural Georgia. Bentley highlighted the Rural Hospital Organization Act of 2017 (SB 14), which will allow rural hospitals to seek state grants to offset some of their financial challenges.

Bishop painted a grim picture with respect to the federal budget, noting that the proposed budget from the Trump administration would cut the USDA budget by 21 percent.

"There's no way we can do everything we need to do in this country without the necessary funding," Bishop said, noting that the Trump budget would increase defense spending by $54 million, money that would have to be offset by cuts in non-defense spending. "That is going to cause a lot of pain."

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black talked about his department's budget as approved by the General Assembly, including a bond package that will allow the department to double the size of the Georgia Grown Building at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, with the extra space to include a birthing center to demonstrate live births of farm animals during the Georgia National Fair beginning in 2018.

"There will be live births every day of the fair so the public can understand the circle of life and what that's all about," Black said. "We can teach this next generation where their food is coming from when it comes to food animals."


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