Citing farmers’ perseverance, then Gov.-elect Brian Kemp praised Georgia farmers affected by Hurricane Michael while addressing the general session of the Georgia Farm Bureau 81st Annual Convention.
“Our farmers, many of them in this room, are amazing individuals, amazing people. They are strong and they are resolute,” Kemp said. “You have rolled up your sleeves. You have gone back to work. You didn’t complain. You have kept the faith and started the long journey on the road to recovery. I will make it my mission to rebuild what was lost and to help South Georgia emerge stronger than ever before.”
Kemp outlined his plan to strengthen rural communities by making Georgia the No. 1 state in the country for small business. His three-pronged plan includes eliminating burdensome regulatory requirements for small business owners, implementing a state spending cap and expanding access to high-speed internet in rural areas. Kemp said he plans to work with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to take the Georgia Grown program into international markets.
“No one knows better than you all that we have challenges ahead of us,” Kemp told the GFB members. “But we also have opportunities that I think are endless.”
About 1,500 Georgia farmers and agribusiness leaders from across the state attended the convention, Dec. 2-4 on Jekyll Island, which included a trade show and educational sessions that gave farmers updates on policy and production issues affecting Georgia’s major commodities. Attendees also had a chance to test drive new Ford vehicles to raise money for the GFB Foundation Hurricane Michael Relief Fund. Ford donated money to the fund for each test drive.
While delivering his annual address at the convention, GFB President Gerald Long said the organization’s research, promotion
and education efforts under the Harvest 20 Vision have been successful. He announced new initiatives being developed, including an increase in research funding, the Agriculture in the Classroom Mobile Unit and the Land & Leadership Advocates program.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black also spoke at the Dec. 3 general session.
Duvall said the similarities between the current farm economy and the difficult times the ag community suffered in the 1980s are striking, pointing specifically to farm debt, interest rates and lawsuits. But his message was one of hope. He said he was encouraged by the experience he’s had while interacting with members of the Trump administration.