Originally created 11/05/06

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner race

Question: How would you promote Georgia-grown products?

Gary Black - Republican

I will create a goal-based environment where we track a program's success and use that information to build successful future programs. I will also ensure that as the state travels on economic trade missions across the globe, the Georgia Department of Agriculture sends representatives to sell Georgia agricultural products.

Jack Cashin - Libertarian

This probably isn't a popular answer, but I do not think it should be the government's job to act as a promoter for industry. That is the role of trade groups and other private organizations.

Tommy Irvin (I) - Democrat

We will continue the Georgia Grown promotional program, which has an 82 percent recognition level among shoppers, according to research prepared by the Center for Agribusiness Studies; increase international trade initiatives; assist local farmers' markets and marketing to restaurants, private and public schools and corporate food service providers.

Question: Should the state create financial incentives to support the biofuels industry?

Gary Black - Republican

I support Gov. Perdue's proposal to eliminate the sales tax on biofuel refinery infrastructure investments. We should fully use existing economic-development tools - tax credits, public research - to enhance refining capacity. I will improve testing to ensure quality and educate the public about the benefits.

Jack Cashin - Libertarian

Georgia needs to think outside the box in order to get out in front of the biofuels revolution. Namely, Georgia needs to consider working towards the re-legalization of industrial hemp, which on a per-acre basis produces up to four times the amount of ethanol produced by a similar acre of corn.

Tommy Irvin (I) - Democrat

Yes. The governor already announced industry tax relief, but he needs to do more. Some states give motor fuel tax exemptions for ethanol and biodiesel, but our efforts to get this done in Georgia has been unsuccessful. Funds are also needed for the department's current program and UGA research.

Question: How would you protect the public from food-borne illnesses and product recalls?

Gary Black - Republican

I will ensure that officials working on the front line of food safety are trained, equipped and paid properly. I will launch FoodWatchGeorgia.com, an interactive resource where Georgians can find information on nutrition, new products and recalls. I will work with industry and community groups to educate the public on food safety.

Jack Cashin - Libertarian

We already have a stupendous number of laws, some of which are probably totally unnecessary, on the books to protect the public. Fortunately, it is in the interest of farmers and producers not to sell infected or defective products. That self-interest is the single greatest protection the consumer has.

Tommy Irvin (I) - Democrat

With trained inspectors, high-tech scientific methods and an effective media staff, our product recall protocol is the best, serving as a national model. When products are even suspected of causing food-borne illnesses, the public is immediately notified, and products are removed from sale, regardless of the day or hour.


Gary Black - Republican

Age: 48

Residence: Commerce

Political experience: None

Profession: Farmer and immediate past president of Georgia Agribusiness Council

Education: Bachelor's degree in agriculture education, University of Georgia

Family: Wife, Lydia; two children

Jack Cashin - Libertarian

Age: 80

Residence: Alpharetta

Political experience: Ran for U.S. Senate in 1996; ran for governor in 1998

Profession: Horse farmer

Education: Sociology degree, Colgate University; graduate school studies of public relations and advertising, New York University

Family: Wife, Helen; six children; 13 grandchildren

Tommy Irvin (I) - Democrat

Age: 77

Residence: Habersham County

Political experience: Habersham County Board of Education member; served eight years in the Georgia House of Representatives; has served as state agriculture commissioner since 1969

Profession: Agriculture commissioner

Education: Attended high school in White County

Family: Wife, Bernice; five children; 14 grandchildren


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