Georgia Farm Bureau members will travel to Jekyll Island for the organization's 73rd annual meeting Dec. 4-6.
"I'm pleased to announce that Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black will address our members during the general session on Monday morning," GFB President Zippy Duvall said.
"We also have a great lineup of speakers for our commodity conferences on Monday afternoon to discuss production and policy issues impacting the major commodities grown in Georgia."
Members will gather at Jekyll's Historic District Convention Campus located behind the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Convention activities will begin Sunday, Dec. 4, when registration and exhibits open at 12 p.m. Registration will be held in the lobby of Grand Oaks Hall and the exhibits will be housed next door in the Morgan Tennis Center.
The final round of the GFB Young Farmer Discussion Meet will be held in Magnolia Hall beginning at 1 p.m. The four finalists — Kyle Dekle of Habersham County, Sara Ervin of Jackson County, Skye Gess of Oconee County and Troy Windham of Laurens County — were selected during preliminary rounds of the competition held in July at the GFB Young Farmer Conference.
The winner of this contest and the GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest will be announced Sunday afternoon during the annual awards program.
The GFB Young Farmer Achievement Contest finalists are Chad and Julie Carlton of Polk County, Chris and Marilynn Hopkins of Toombs County and Cody and Lora Lord of Laurens County.
Awards will also be presented to counties and individuals selected as state winners for various programs completed during the past year to promote agriculture.
GFB will award the organization's highest honor, the McKemie Award, to a county in each of the organization's three membership categories for having the best overall Farm Bureau program in its respective category.
Barrow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Emanuel, Habersham, Henry, McDuffie, Madison, Newton and Stephens counties will compete for the McKemie Award in the membership category of more than 2,601 members.
Berrien, Bibb, Floyd, Franklin, Greene, Harris, Pike, Polk, Spalding and Washington counties will compete for the award in the 1,501 to 2,600 member category.
Bacon, Crawford, Heard, Jasper, Meriwether, Upson and Wilcox counties will compete for the award in the membership category of up to 1,500 members.
On Dec. 5, the general session begins at 9 a.m. in Grand Oaks Hall. Gov. Nathan Deal is scheduled to speak around 9:15 a.m. GFB President Duvall and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black will also address convention attendees.
Commodity conference speakers
Commodity conferences featuring speakers who will address management and policy issues for the major commodities grown in Georgia will be held Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, voting delegates will discuss and approve policy resolutions submitted by county Farm Bureau chapters from across the state. The resolutions approved by the delegates will become the organization's official policy and will guide its legislative efforts in the upcoming year.
Delegates will also elect the 2012 GFB Board of Directors.
GFB President Zippy Duvall will begin the second year of his third two-year term to which he was elected last year. Duvall and his wife, Bonnie, raise broilers, cattle and hay on their Greene County farm.
As GFB president Duvall serves as an ex-officio member on all but one of Georgia's Agricultural Commodity Commissions and serves on the board of directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Prior to being elected GFB president, Duvall served on the GFB Board of Directors as a 4th District director from 2002-2006 and as the GFB Young Farmer Committee Chairman in 1985. Duvall and his wife, Bonnie, have four adult children and two grandchildren.
The Duvalls are members of New Hope Baptist Church, where Zippy serves as a deacon.
GFB South Georgia Vice-President Gerald Long of Decatur County, who serves as the organization's 1st vice-president, is seeking the designation of 1st vice-president unopposed. Long has served as the organization's South Georgia vice-president since 2006 and was first designated to serve as the organization's 1st vice-president in 2008.
Long and his family raise cattle and grow peanuts, vegetables, corn, cotton, hay, small grains and timber on their farm near Bainbridge. Gerald and his wife, Janice, have three adult children. The Longs are members of the First Baptist Church of Bainbridge, where Gerald serves as a deacon.
GFB North Georgia Vice-President Bernard Sims of Catoosa County is running unopposed for his second three-year term. Sims currently serves as the Catoosa County Farm Bureau president, a position he has held since 1979.
Sims was a dairy farmer for 40 years until he retired from the industry eight years ago.
For the past eight years, he has grown turfgrass, hay and beef cattle.
In addition to his Farm Bureau leadership, Sims previously served on his local USDA Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Service Committee and served on the boards of three dairy cooperatives during his years as a dairy farmer.
Bernard and his wife, Janet, have two adult children and eight grandchildren. Their son, Jeff, died in 2010. The Sims are members of Burning Bush Baptist Church, where Bernard serves as a deacon.
GFB District Directors running unopposed for another two-year term are: Bobby Gunter, Lumpkin County, 2nd District; George Chambers, Carroll County, 3rd District; Marvin Ruark, Morgan County, 4th District; Ralph Adamson, Lamar County, 5th District; James Malone, Laurens County, 6th District; Paul Shirah, Mitchell County, 9th District and David Lee, Bacon County, 10th District.
The only races with opposition are for the 1st District director seat formerly held by Louis Hunt of Walker County, who passed away unexpectedly in May, and the 7th District director seat held by Gennis Folsom, who chose not to seek re-election after serving on the GFB Board 19 years.
Candidates for the 1st District seat are Cecil Burk of Floyd County, William Grizzle of Cherokee County, Wesley Hall of Forsyth County, Fred Kearce of Floyd County and J.B. Lemon of Walker County. Candidates for the 7th District seat are Gary Bell of Evans County and Randy Branch of Appling County.
GFB 8th District Director Phil Redding announced Nov. 7 that he was withdrawing his candidacy for re-election. Redding served on the GFB Board 26 years. Kim Brown of Macon County, who also qualified for the seat, will become a GFB 8th District director at the close of the convention.