Georgia Government 101: What does the Commissioner of Agriculture do?

April 9, 2018
1 min read

If you’re like most Georgians, you probably hear “Commissioner of Agriculture” and think peanuts and peaches. If you don’t own a farm, you probably don’t think the department of agriculture has anything to do with you. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture has a hand in more of your everyday life than you’re aware of. Since you’re going to be voting  for this seat in November, let’s take a few moments to learn just how important this office is.

What is the role of the Commissioner of Agriculture?: The Commissioner of Agriculture as a broad role that extends far beyond what you probably consider “agriculture.” Think your neighborhood gas station’s pumps aren’t calibrated right? The Department of Agriculture oversees that. Planning a trip to the grocery store? The Department of Agriculture regulates your favorite store, even if it is a chain. Drink bottled water? That is regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Buying a pet from a breeder? Breeders are regulated by the Department of Agriculture. To give you an idea of the scope of this agency’s regulatory power, here is a list of just some of the most common products and services you use that this department regulates:

  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Food warehouses
  • Bottling plants
  • Food processing plants
  • Pet dealers
  • Pet breeders
  • Animal health
  • Gasoline quality
  • Pump calibration
  • Antifreeze
  • Pesticides
  • Meat processing
  • Seed quality
  • Vidalia onions
  • State farmer’s markets
  • Plant Diseases
  • Nurseries and garden centers
  • Fertilizer and lime
  • Potting soil
  • Bottled water

In addition to these regulatory responsibilities, the Commissioner of Agriculture is also responsible for promoting the state’s agriculture industry and marketing Georgia’s agricultural products domestically and internationally. 

Origin: Post-Civil War Georgia was in desperate need of an agricultural boost after reconstruction, so in 1874, the Commissioner of Agriculture post was created to help pull the state’s agricultural economy out of the basement.

How is the Commissioner of Agriculture Chosen: This is an elected position. Elections are held at the same time as the governor and other state offices.

Term Length: 4 years; no term limits.

Qualifications: To be Georgia’s Agriculture Commission, one must be a U.S. Citizen for at least 10 years, a legal resident of Georgia for four years, and at least 25 years old upon taking office.

Who is the current Commissioner of Agriculture: Gary Black has held the post since 2011. Prior to Black, Tommy Irvin was the commissioner for a record 42 years.

How influential is the Commissioner of Agriculture?: Considering that whoever holds this post is responsible for everything from the food you eat to the gas you put in your car, it’s safe to assume this is an influential position. It would be wise to get to know each candidate’s platform before stepping into the voting booth in November.

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