The Georgia Cotton Commission participated in an agricultural tour for members of Georgia’s General Assembly which was hosted by the Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC) and began at the Sunbelt Expo. Some of the members were flown in to Moultrie’s Spence Field on the morning of Wednesday, October 19, and were met by other delegates at the Expo site along with a number of Congressional staff members.
Tour participants were greeted by Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and his staff along with staff from the Sunbelt Expo, Georgia Agribusiness Council and the Georgia Farm Bureau in the new consumer information exhibit at the Expo. The Georgia Farm Bureau shares this facility with the Department of Agriculture and it is located next door to the headquarters building.
The group then spent about an hour visiting the Georgia Cotton Commission’s exhibit where Executive Director Richey Seaton, provided a detailed overview of cotton production and concerns facing growers.
At the next stop at the Georgia Peanut Commission’s exhibit, a similar presentation by Executive Director Don Koehler was given before heading out to see the crops as they were harvested. Once out in the field, discussion on crop biotechnology, irrigation efficiency and a review of agriculture stewardship practices took place. This was also a good opportunity for them to see farm equipment in action and to have their many questions answered.
The participants enjoyed a lunch sponsored by the Georgia Farm Bureau at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) exhibit where they met with ABAC President, Dr. David Bridges and his staff, who gave them current information about the college and their goals.
The group visited the nearby Westbrook Dairy, owned and operated by dairyman Doyle Weltzbarker. Doyle and his business partner Calvin Moody discussed their operation, including input costs, milk production and distribution, labor and environmental stewardship.
The final tour stop was at BCT Gin, in Quitman, where Executive Manager Van Murphy described the operation, which includes a cotton gin, cotton warehouse and peanut buying point. He discussed the economic impact of this facility in rural Georgia, export markets, workforce challenges and competitiveness.
The legislators expressed great interest and appreciation over all that they saw and learned, as presented to them. They encouraged their hosts to work to keep them filled-in on issues as they arise in the cotton industry and agriculture.