Collins, Black at Farm City Week Banquet

Leaders from the state and federal level talk agriculture and more at a banquet in Stephens County.

Monday, the Currahee Campus of North Georgia Technical College hosted the annual Toccoa-Stephens County Farm City Week Banquet.

The Stephens County Farm Bureau puts on the banquet each year to bring together local and state officials with the agriculture community.

This year’s attendees included 9th District U.S. Representative Doug Collins and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black.

Collins talked about the budget battles and government shutdown in Washington.

He said he is concerned that the government collects $2.2 trillion in revenue, a number he says is the highest it has ever been, and still runs a trillion dollar deficit.

“The problem overall is we have lost sight of a good northeast Georgia, biblical word called stewardship,” said Collins.  “We have lost track of what it means to take care of what we have got.  We have lost track of what it means to simply say ‘Here is what we have been given and here is what we give to the next generation’.”

Collins said that government is not able to make it better for the next generation because it is so out of whack.

He also said that while last month’s government shutdown was ugly and nobody won, he still feels Washington can do what the founders set out for it to do.

Before Collins spoke, State Agriculture Commissioner Black talked about how important it is for the agriculture industry to work on reaching out to the modern consumer.

Black said doing that will require farmers and others involved with agriculture to communicate differently.

“We have to got to continue our great traditions of agriculture that are so very important, but we have to learn another language if we are going to connect with the 21st century consumer,” said Black.  “We have to speak the language of food.”

Those in attendance also heard from State House Agriculture Committee Chair Rep. Tom McCall of Elberton, Georgia Farm Bureau President Vince “Zippy” Duvall, and UGA Extension State 4-H Leader Arch Smith.

Also during the banquet, the Stephens County Farm Bureau handed out a number of honors.

At the top of the list was the induction of the late Willie Sheriff in to the Stephens County Farm Bureau Hall of Fame.

50th District State Senator John Wilkinson called Sheriff a man of vision, integrity, and wisdom, as well as a steward of the land.

Sheriff’s son, Leonard Sheriff, was named the 2013 Stephens County Cattleman of the Year.

Other awards went to James Whiten as this year’s Friend of Agriculture and the Steve Cothran family as this year’s Farm Family of the Year.