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December 8, 2014

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

CONTACT:

Jennifer Whittaker, jawhittaker@gfb.org

 

GEORGIA FARM BUREAU HOLDS 77th ANNUAL CONVENTION

Gov. Nathan Deal discusses budget recovery, Port of Savannah & water issues

Sen.-elect David Perdue pledges to work to grow nation’s economy & return country to founding principles

GFB President Duvall outlines how organization advocates for farmers

 

JEKYLL ISLAND – About 1,500 Georgia farmers and agribusiness leaders from across the state are meeting on Jekyll Island Dec. 7-9 for the organization’s 77th annual convention. The three-day event includes a trade show and commodity conferences providing farmers updates on policy and production issues impacting Georgia’s major commodities. During the general session on Dec. 8 convention attendees had the pleasure of hearing from Gov. Nathan Deal and U.S. Sen.-elect David Perdue.

 

Gov. Nathan Deal discusses budget recovery, Port of Savannah & water issues

 

Georgia’s economy continues to recover from the Great Recession Gov. Deal told GFB members saying, “We had some difficult economic times we’ve had to come through, but I’m pleased to tell you that we’ve been coming out of the Great Recession. We’ve continued to see revenue grow month over month and year over year and that’s good for agriculture.”


Deal pointed out that Georgia’s population has grown in the past four years, with the state going from being the 10th most populous state in the U.S. in 2010 to now being the 8th most populous state in the country.


“People continue to come our way,” Deal said.


Deal also discussed the economic contributions the Port of Savannah is making to Georgia’s economy and how Georgia farmers will benefit from the deepening of the port.


“Georgia is the gateway to the Southeast and Eastern coast and that is particularly true because of the Port of Savannah. It is one of the very important economic hubs of our state. We are very well on our way to deepening the port which will allow further expansion of agriculture exports,” Deal said. “Not only do the Chinese like our pecans, the world has discovered Georgia pecans, peanuts and blueberries. The European Union has discovered the availability of chipped wood for the satisfaction of their requirement for renewable fuel.”

 

Deal also discussed the lawsuit pending in the U.S. Supreme Court that Florida filed against Georgia in 2013 over access to water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers that flows into the Apalachicola Bay. Florida has long contended that too much water is taken from the Chattahoochee to meet the demands of the Atlanta area. In early November the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case and in mid-November appointed Maine attorney Ralph I. Lancaster Jr. to serve as a special master for the case. Lancaster will call witnesses, issue subpoenas, take evidence and submit reports to the Supreme Court. As special master Lancaster does not have the authority to rule, only to recommend outcomes to the justices.

 

Deal praised Georgia’s farmers for steps they have taken to reduce and increase the efficiency of their water use in raising crops.

 

“Georgia agriculture has shown it is willing to be responsible for the water you use through the irrigation metering program and your support of the Flint River Drought Protection Act. All of these are positive indications of our willingness to be accountable for our resources,” Deal said. “In a lawsuit this is the best evidence we have that our state is acting in good faith.”

 

Deal also commended the Georgia Department of Agriculture for its Georgia Grown program that promotes commodities and products grown and manufactured in the state.


“The Georgia Grown project has caught on with the public. Consumers are taking pride in what we produce in Georgia, and our Georgia Grown project is leading the way all across the country. If you give people a sense of pride in products produced in their state they will respond.”


Sen.-elect Perdue pledges to work to grow nation’s economy & return country to founding principles

 

U.S. Sen.-elect David Perdue gave his first public address since being elected in November at the GFB convention saying, “I wanted my first public speaking engagement to be with Georgia Farm Bureau because I’m lobbying to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Agriculture is the backbone of our state and the backbone of our country.” 

 

Perdue said he will focus on tax reform, regulatory reform and energy reform in an attempt to grow the nation’s economy.

 

“I’ve never seen a government more cumbersome and obstructive to businesses,” Perdue said. “We’ve got to get these regulators off our backs.

 

Perdue also stressed the need for Congress to address the nation’s debt crisis, pointing out that the national debt has gone from $6 trillion in 2000 to $18 trillion today.

 

“This debt crisis doesn’t get the attention that it needs to have. It affects us in ways we can’t imagine. We’ve got to stop spending and borrowing what we spend,” Perdue said. He suggested eliminating redundant federal agencies as a way of trimming the national debt.

 

Perdue said the U.S. must get back to the principles our nation was founded on including economic opportunity, fiscal responsibility, limited government and individual liberty.

 

“I’m not going to be the most popular person in Washington because I’m going to Washington to fight for these four principles,” Perdue said. “I’m going up to make some noise and try to change the direction of our country. I think we have awakened to the reality that we can and we must make our country a bastion for freedom around the world.”

 

GFB President Duvall outlines how organization advocates for farmers

 

While delivering his annual address to Georgia Farm Bureau members, GFB President Zippy Duvall shared how the organization has served to be the “Voice of Georgia’s farmers” during the past year. Duvall recounted how GFB stepped up in defense of private property rights in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposing a rule in April commonly called “Waters of the U.S.” that would greatly expand the agencies’ authority to regulate water on private property. GFB conducted a statewide “Ditch the Rule” campaign that resulted in 15,558 comments being submitted to the EPA urging the agencies to withdraw the proposed rule during the public comment period that ended Nov. 14.


“We must continue to step up and hammer home the point that we, the farmers, are tied to our land, and we, the farmers, will not just sit back and accept additional erosion of our private property rights,” Duvall said.

 

Despite federal budget challenges, GFB worked diligently to secure passage of the new farm bill that provides options for multiple types of farmers to remain economically viable. Realizing that the new crop insurance aspect of the farm bill is different from previous programs, GFB is working with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to hold a series of 10 educational meetings across Georgia from Dec. 12 through Dec. 19 to educate farmers about the programs in the new bill and decisions they must make regarding their farms if they wish to participate in any of the farm bill programs. Visit http://tinyurl.com/fbinfomtgs for more information about the meetings.


GFB has continued to work with state lawmakers and law enforcement officials to reduce the occurrence of metal theft, which has hit farmers particularly hard as thieves targeted irrigation systems and barns to steal copper wiring. In the past year, GFB worked to secure funding for a statewide metal theft database that helps law enforcement track stolen metals and apprehend thieves.


Duvall also announced the organization is establishing the GFB Foundation for Agriculture, a non-profit charitable foundation that will raise money to fund promotion and educational activities to teach students and consumers how farmers grow their food.

 
Founded in 1937, the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. The organization has 158 county chapters, and its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. GFB also has 20 commodity advisory committees that give the organization input on issues pertinent to the major commodities grown in Georgia.

 

 

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Below are four possible photos to use with the article detailing the general session of the GFB convention, along with cutlines to accompany each photo.

 

DUVALL WELCOMES GOV. DEAL - Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, left, welcomes Gov. Nathan Deal to the 77th Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Convention on Jekyll Island. Deal spoke to GFB members during the general session of the convention on Dec. 8. 

 

GOV. DEAL SPEAKING - Gov. Nathan Deal spoke at the 77th Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Convention on Jekyll Island on Dec. 8.

 

DUVALL INTROS SEN. PERDUE - Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, left, welcomes U.S. Sen.-elect David Perdue to the 77th Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Convention on Jekyll Island. Perdue spoke to GFB members during the general session of the convention on Dec. 8.      

 

SEN. PERDUE SPEAKING - U.S. Sen.-elect David Perdue spoke at the 77th Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Convention on Jekyll Island on Dec. 8.