Gary W. Black is a conservative Republican candidate for Georgia Agriculture Commissioner. The qualifications for Agriculture Commissioner established under Georgia Constitution and Code state that the Commissioner be "25 years of age," and "shall be a practical farmer." Gary meets these basic requirements with ease. He's 51. He and his wife Lydia, son Ward and daughter Caroline operate Harmony Grove Farms in Commerce, GA, specializing in the production of home grown beef for local consumers. But in today's world, the job of Agriculture Commissioner requires more. Much more.
Consumers must have confidence in the taxpayer supported food safety system. This topic is on the mind of every Georgian. Agriculture is the largest segment of our economy.
Gary 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 an Agricultural Economics master's student at the University of Georgia. Caroline is a Junior at UGA majoring in Agricultural Communications.
Gary 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. Gary started a Washington Leadership program for young farmers in 1983, a program that still attracts young people to the federal legislative process today.
Leaders of the Georgia Agribusiness Council tapped Gary to serve as President in 1989-a position he held for 21 years. Gary helped lead efforts to develop and manage the Showcase of Southern Agriculture during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. He is respected as a trusted voice by legislative and regulatory leaders.
Gary 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 led to the creation of a number of small businesses specializing in food processing and product improvement.
The family is active at Maysville Baptist Church where Gary serves in the music ministry and teaches adult Sunday School.
Gary's been recognized for his leadership by the Georgia FFA Association, Georgia Young Farmer's Association, CropLife America, Georgia Agricultural Economics Association, Southern Crop Production Association, Georgia Plant Food Educational Society and Georgia Seed Association. He is a past chairman of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Alumni Society and a recipient of the society's Professional Achievement Award in 2004.
Gary was a campus leader at the University of Georgia, graduating with a degree in Agricultural Education in 1980.