Published on 05/15/08

South Georgia vegetable farmer honored by CAES

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

For his dedicated leadership to Georgia agriculture, Bill Brim, president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, was given the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Medallion of Honor for Service at UGA graduation ceremonies in Athens, Ga., May 10.

“Bill Brim represents the best of Georgia agriculture,” said J. Scott Angle, CAES dean and director. “He has been a strong force in keeping agriculture as Georgia’s No. 1 industry. We in CAES are proud to have him as a valued friend.”

“If we don’t stand up and fight for and organize our industry,” Brim said, “then who is going do it for us. ... If we can help or do something to find research money or support in Washington or locally to improve our industry, we must do it.”

Brim, 56, was born in Pelham, Ga. He graduated Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga., in 1973 and began a career in agribusiness, working for several firms. In 1985, Brim returned to Tifton and with partner Ed Walker purchased Lewis Taylor Farms, a vegetable plant company founded in 1951. Over the next five years, Brim transformed the farm into a diversified transplant and vegetable production operation.

The farm currently produces more than 85 million vegetable transplants and 15 million pine seedlings annually. It has more than 4,000 acres in production.

In 1998, when the shortage of farm labor intensified across the country, Brim was one of the first in Georgia to organize a farm labor association and to use the highly regulated federal government’s temporary workers H2A program to make sure he had enough workers to run his farm legally.

In 2002, the farm was the first in Georgia to become Good Agriculture Practice certified, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that verifies that the practices on the farm minimize microbial contamination.

Brim has made numerous presentations at congressional hearings and hosted many legislative visits to south Georgia. He has served as leader or advisor for state or national agricultural boards and organizations, including the CAES and to the U.S. secretary of agriculture.

“Bill is an outstanding agriculturist and an innovator trying those new things and technologies to stay on the leading edge. In doing this, he sets standards and leads by example for others in the industry,” said Joe West, the CAES assistant dean of the UGA Tifton, Ga., campus.

Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.