Special to the Journal
“Through the years Georgia Farm Bureau members have enjoyed going to Jekyll’s beautiful coastal setting to hold our annual convention,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “We’re honored to have U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black scheduled to speak to us. We also have a great lineup of speakers for our commodity conferences on Monday afternoon to discuss issues impacting the major commodities grown in Georgia.”
Convention activities begin on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Jekyll Island Convention Center with registration at 11 a.m. followed by the opening of the trade show at noon, featuring booths from many of Georgia’s agricultural organizations and agencies. The Georgia Department of Agriculture and GFB are hosting a reception from noon to 4:30 p.m. showcasing Georgia-grown commodities and GFB’s Certified Farm Markets.
The final round of the GFB Young Farmer Discussion Meet, during which contestants age 18 to 35 will discuss a current ag topic, begins at 1 p.m. The four finalists – Kyle Dekle of Habersham County, Trisha Lastly of Madison County, Ali Merk of Jackson County and Constance Reid of Greene County – advanced through preliminary rounds of the competition held in July at the GFB Young Farmer Conference.
The winner of the discussion meet, the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest, and the GFB Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award will be announced Sunday evening during the annual awards program.
Finalists for the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest, which honors GFB members actively farming who are age 18 to 35, are James and Brooke Hitchcock of Washington County, Russ and Mandy Moon of Madison County and Charlie Sanders of Greene County.
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Finalists for the GFB Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture Award, given to a GFB member age 18 to 35 who derives the majority of his or her income from something other than farming, are Lauren Boykin of Screven County, Paul Harris of Pierce County and Clay Talton of Elbert County.
Awards will also be presented to counties and individuals selected as state winners for various programs completed during the past year to promote agriculture. GFB will award the organization’s highest honor, the McKemie Award, to a county in each of the organization’s three membership categories for having the best overall Farm Bureau program in its respective category.
Cherokee, Coffee, Colquitt, Elbert, Henry, McDuffie, Madison, Newton, Stephens and White counties will compete for the McKemie Award in the membership category of more than 2,231 members. Cook, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Jeff Davis, Monroe, Pike, Polk and Tift counties will compete for the award in the member category of 1,331 to 2,230 members. Bacon, Crawford, Jasper, Macon, Screven, Upson and Wilcox counties will compete for the award in the membership category of up to 1,330 members.
On Monday, Dec. 9, the general session begins at 8:30 a.m. and will include remarks from Kingston, Duvall’s annual address, updates on current ag issues from American Farm Bureau staff members Kristi Boswell and Bob Young and remarks from Black.
Commodity conferences featuring speakers who will address management and policy issues for the major commodities grown in Georgia will be held Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Gov. Deal is scheduled to speak around 9:15 a.m. before GFB voting delegates will discuss and approve policy resolutions submitted by county Farm Bureau chapters from across the state. The resolutions approved by the delegates will become the organization’s official policy and will guide its legislative efforts in 2014. Delegates will also elect the 2014 GFB Board of Directors.
Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization. Its volunteer members actively promote agricultural 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.