James.qxp Nov Dec 2018 web - Page 19

By Gary Black
N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8
ne of the greatest
privileges I’ve had as
Georgia Agriculture
Commissioner is the
opportunity to visit with
folks across this great state and
country. During my travels, I often enjoy revealing
the often-untold story behind our state’s name.
Most know that the State of Georgia was named
after King George II of England. But many do not
realize that Georgia is a feminine form of the Greek
George, meaning tiller of the soil— or farmer. I
believe this is signicant because it illustrates that
agriculture is not the number one industry and
primary economic driver in our state by accident.
Agriculture has long shaped Georgia’s history,
and has been a driving force for local economies
across the state. We do not farm because it is all we
can do or are forced to do. We farm because it is
what we want to do— because it is what we are
good at. It is what we were always intended to do.
We are blessed with the perfect soil, climate and
people that all combine to make Georgia Nature’s
Favorite State.
For years, Georgia has led the country in the
production of numerous renowned commodities.
Together these commodities directly represent a
value of over $13.75 billion to the Georgia economy.
In addition, these commodities form the
foundation for our diverse agricultural supply
chain, while providing key resources to many
sectors and adding value within the economy.
According to the University of Georgia’s Center for
Agribusiness and Economic Development, food and
ber production and related industries represented
$73.3 billion in output to Georgia’s $972 billion
economy in 2016. As America’s number one state
to do business, it is tting that agricultural
industries in Georgia contributed more than
383,600 jobs in the state’s economy— more proof
that Georgia is Nature’s Favorite State.
A closer inspection of agriculture’s contribution
to the state reveals that Georgia has ranked rst in
the production of three big P’s for decades—
poultry, peanuts and pecans. Georgia has also
consistently ranked as the top forestry state in the
nation contributing $19 billion to the state’s
economy and over 87 thousand jobs. Also, Georgia
ranks second in the production of cotton and third
in many of our favorite vegetables.
To say that Georgia leads the effort in feeding,
clothing and housing our great nation would
certainly not be an understatement. Neither would
be saying that Georgia is Nature’s Favorite State.
Unfortunately, even favorites must deal with
trials and tribulations. Georgia farmers are certainly
no strangers to the storms of life, both literal and
gurative. Late freezes, extended droughts,
intensive disease and pest pressure, in addition to
excessive rains, are a fact of life for all farmers.
Georgia farmers are no exception. continued
N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8


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