On Sept. 25, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will induct former Sen. Saxby Chambliss and pioneering northeast Georgia dairy farmer Thomas Breedlove Sr. into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The inductions will be part of the college’s alumni awards ceremony and banquet at the Classic Center in downtown Athens. The public is invited to attend but tickets are required.
The Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame was established in 1972 to recognize individuals who made extraordinary contributions to agriculture and agribusiness in Georgia.
“In this day of rapid progress and change, it is more important than ever to preserve Georgia’s rich agricultural history,” said Rob Cooper, director of external relations for the college. “The 2015 inductees not only made a significant mark on history of Georgia and the state’s largest industry, but also improved the lives of individual Georgians.”
Inductees are nominated by members of the public and selected by the awards committee of the college’s alumni association. Those nominated must possess the following characteristics: impeccable character, outstanding leadership, noteworthy contributions to Georgia’s agricultural landscape and recognition for achievements in agriculture as well as other areas.
Former inductees include agricultural history makers such as D.W. Brooks, founder of Goldkist; J.W. Fanning, former UGA vice-president for public service; and J. Phil Campbell, founding director of Cooperative Extension in Georgia.
This year’s winners — Chambliss and Breedlove — have their own long list of accolades.
During 20 years in the U.S. Congress, Chambliss earned a reputation as an advocate for agriculture. He was working on behalf farmers long before he went to Washington, D.C., in 1995.
He started his career as an attorney in his hometown of Moultrie, representing the interests of the farmers he had grown up around. When he was elected from Georgia’s 8th Congressional District to the House of Representatives in 1994, he became an advocate for farmers and ranchers across America.
Chambliss helped shaped the nation’s agriculture policy, assisting with authoring four farm bills during his tenure in the U.S. House, from 1995 to 2002, and in the Senate, 2003-2015, where he chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2005-2007. He advocated for American farmers as they faced the uncertainty that came along with the new century—the increased competition and opportunity introduced by more relaxed international trade policies and increased concerns about fuel supplies and environmental issues.
While Chambliss worked to help farmers make the transition to the 21st century, Breedlove helped bring Georgia farmers through a different time of uncertainty.
Many of the agencies and cooperatives that have become vital to agriculture today — the EMCs, the Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Administration — have their roots at the end of the Great Depression. Georgia farmers have Breedlove to thank, in part, for getting these visionary programs off the ground.
The Walton and Morgan County dairy and beef farmer helped introduce Georgia farmers to what is today the USDA Farm Service Agency. He was the first and longest-serving executive director of its precursor, Georgia’s Agriculture Adjustment Administration, working for the organization from 1939-1955.
In the early 1950s, Breedlove also represented nine Southeastern states as regional director of the field service branch of the Federal Production Marketing Association. He was a founding board member and first president of Walton EMC, the electric membership cooperative that helped bring electricity to thousands of farm families in northeast Georgia during the 1930s, and a founding vice-president of United Georgia Farmers, which today is known as the Georgia Farm Bureau.
In addition to recognizing Chambliss and Breedlove, the ceremony and banquet will honor alumni award winners.
This year, Georgia’s agricultural community nominated Bo Warren, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, and Jimmy Forrest, a nationally recognized peach grower and owner of Dixie Belle Peaches in South Carolina, for the CAES Alumni Awards of Excellence.
Travis Moore, senior brewmaster at the Anheiser-Busch Brewery in Cartersville; Carmen Byce, a combat veteran who worked to improve livestock husbandry in Afghanistan; and Megan Green, a large animal veterinarian who works for animal health company Merial, will receive young alumni awards.
College alumni are also invited to attend the CAES Alumni Association’s South Campus Tailgate on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Legion Field. For more information on attending either event, visit alumni.caes.uga.edu/events/.