In researching information for a Farm Bureau story printed elsewhere in this edition of The Chronicle, news staff found this press release on gfb.org. Though dated for June 9, The Chronicle elected to publish this piece anyway in the name of informing area farmers, who might find the news break of interest.
Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner since 2011, announced June 4 that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Raphael Warnock. Black’s decision means Georgians will elect a new agriculture commissioner in 2022. He will continue to serve as ag commissioner through the remainder of his current term.
Black says he is running for Senate for the future of America.
“People have asked me ‘Why are you running for the U.S. Senate when you could be re-elected to serve as agriculture commissioner?’ As far as keeping an office for the sake of having it, doing that is not the way I operate nor is that how I think about it,” Black said. “Running for Senate is about the safety and security of America for my children and grandchildren. It’s about what kind of contribution can I make to make our country better? Some people have said they want to fundamentally change America, and I fundamentally disagree with them. I believe we have to restore trust in the institution of the federal government. I’d like to start with the U.S. Senate.”
During Black’s decade as agriculture commissioner, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) has revamped and expanded its Georgia Grown program to promote Georgia commodities and the food products made from them by Georgia companies. Many of these businesses began in the past 10 years.
The GDA divisions for information technology, animal health, homeland security and food safety have been modernized to protect Georgia’s food supply.
“We’ve worked with the Emergency Management Agency to develop Georgia as one of the best prepared states in the nation to deal with disaster and emergency management issues. We’ve made significant progress in technology and response management that impacts every mission of the department,” Black said.
Black led the GDA in administering the federal relief funds for farmers affected by Hurricane Michael that the USDA allocated to Georgia through a state block grant program as authorized by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019, which Congress passed to address multiple natural disasters that hit the U.S from 2017 into
As head of the GDA, Black has overseen the department’s budget that includes state and federal funds that approaches about $70 million annually and approximately 525 employees.
Black is one of the many men former sheriff J. Tyson Stephens works alongside in his new role as an investigator for Georgia’s new hemp program. The Chronicle broke the story about Black’s hiring Stephens back in May.