He encouraged young farmers to get involved in the organization and prepare to assume leadership roles in the future. Black also reflected on changes Georgia agriculture has witnessed in the last 30 years such as decreases in pork, soybean and tobacco production while production of cotton, fruits and vegetables have increased.

“We’ve had lots of challenges and lots of changes in the last thirty years, and I tip my hat to you and thank you for being involved in agriculture during these past thirty years,” Black said.

Black also gave a stewardship report of the changes he has implemented at the department of agriculture in the last 30 weeks, such as recruiting paid subscriptions to the Market Bulletin to cover production costs and announced the department will soon introduce a smart phone application for the biweekly publication.

Black described steps the department is taking to market Georgia grown products such as developing a new Georgia Grown logo, using Georgia chefs to promote Georgia commodities and working with school systems to feed students with locally grown food.

“The issue of locally produced food is not a fad. It’s here to stay in the marketplace,” Black said.

“If locally grown food fits in with your operation and business plan, we have a new logo you’re going to want to use. We have developed an integrated marketing program that will keep Georgia grown products in the minds of consumers not only here in Georgia, but nationally and internationally, too.”

Black also encouraged convention delegates to work with the Georgia General Assembly when it reconvenes in 30 days.

 “Farm Bureau is the recognized legislative voice of Georgia farmers. When your board of directors come to Atlanta people listen,” Black said.

He encouraged all Farm Bureau members to get involved in the legislative process and address issues such as taxes, the environment and metal theft while guarding against apathy. 

In closing, Black challenged Farm Bureau members to spend the next 30 minutes thinking of ways they could promote agriculture in their local communities, prepare young farmers to assume leadership roles in the organization and recruit new members.

Duvall ended the general session by announcing that Georgia Farm Bureau will celebrate its 75th anniversary throughout 2012 and culminate the yearlong celebration at the 2012 annual convention. Convention attendees received 75th anniversary lapel pins to kickoff the celebration.

Founded in 1937, the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization. The organization has 158 county chapters, and approximately one out of nine Georgians are involved with Farm Bureau.

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.