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Meet Commissioner Gary W. Black

Commissioner Gary W. Black had his first experience as an advocate for agriculture while still in high school, at age 17, when he served as State President for the Georgia Future Farmers of America. Black was a campus leader at the University of Georgia, graduating with a degree in agricultural education in 1980.

Commissioner Black began his career with the Georgia Farm Bureau in 1980 as a Field Representative, and later served as Coordinator for the State Young Farmer Program. Many of the young farmers he worked directly with now serve in leadership positions across Georgia including major farm organizations and the state legislature. Black started a Washington Leadership program for young farmers in 1983, a program that still attracts young people to the federal legislative process today.

In 1989, leaders of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, a chamber of commerce-like organization for farmers and agricultural business owners, tapped Black to serve as President – a position he held for 21 years. During his time with the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Black expanded services to members to include worker’s compensation insurance, training for homeland security compliance and advocacy on issues including private property rights, lower taxes and environmental stewardship.

As GAC President, Black co-managed the Georgia Food Industry Partnership for 13 years. This public-private consortium directs research funding for food safety and product improvement at Georgia’s research universities. A wide range of projects initiated under this group have improved control of E. coli 0157-H7 and salmonella in food processing facilities and have led to the creation of a number of small businesses specializing in food processing and product improvement technologies.

Throughout Georgia and the nation, farmers, legislative leaders and regulatory officials trust and respect Gary W. Black for his experience and judgment in agricultural issues. In 2010, the people of Georgia put their trust in him as well by electing him as their 16th Commissioner of Agriculture.

Commissioner Black would rather be referred to as Lydia’s husband and Ward and Caroline’s dad. Lydia teaches family and consumer science at Jackson County High School. Ward is a development coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Caroline is an Agricultural Communications Masters student at Texas A&M University. The family is active at Maysville Baptist Church where Black serves in the music and adult Sunday school ministries.