Published on 10/17/13

UGA President dubs visit to Expo 'spectacular'

By Clint Thompson

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead dubbed his first visit to the Sunbelt Ag Expo as “spectacular.”

President Morehead first visited the Ag Expo grounds during an agricultural tour in September, before 1,200-plus exhibitors set out their wares and some 100,000 visitors flocked to Spence Field in Moultrie for this year’s event.

“You get a true sense of the impact that the agricultural community has on the business of this state and how important it is to the future of this state,” the new UGA president said during his visit to the expo on Oct. 15. “I wish more of our media and our citizens could be here to see what’s going on because you recognize how critically important agriculture is to the future of Georgia.”

UGA was just one of many southern universities that exhibited their latest research and Extension projects at the 2013 show. UGA’s facility featured exhibits from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the UGA Cooperative Extension. Next year, Georgia will be the spotlight state.

“I wanted to be here to see what the University of Georgia is doing to contribute to this special event and just to show that I understood its importance,” President Morehead said. “It’s important for our university to remain centrally involved. I was able to see a number of our employees that are working here and (making) this event successful.”

President Morehead’s visit to Moultrie is a small part of his plan to become more informed about Georgia agriculture, which generates $71.1 billion annually. He plans to visit other agricultural sites when he tours the state with Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black.

“I think that’s part of what I should be doing. The other part is back home in Athens, making sure that our Athens Campus, our Tifton Campus and our Griffin Campus are all being supported in ways that will allow them to continue to do research that supports the agricultural industry as well as educate our students as future farmers and leaders in this state,” he said.

For more about agricultural research and Extension programs at UGA, see the website

Farmer of the Year

A longtime farmer from South Carolina was named the Southeastern Farmer of the Year on Tuesday at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie.

James E. Cooley was honored as the region’s top farmer on the first day of the annual Expo event during the Willie B. Withers Luncheon.

The top state farmers were also recognized from across 10 southeastern states; Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Bluffton resident Will Harris was Georgia’s representative.

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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