I’m an eighth generation Georgian, but don’t presume some mythical southern culture.
My folks were steeped in generational poverty. My second great-grandfather had seasonal work cutting lumber in the then-wilds of Florida, while his family lived in Palmetto huts that moved with the men. My granddad was a sharecropper – like his father before him – until he began working for the Swift meatpacking plant in Moultrie, Georgia. My uncle Bill was a dirt farmer, producing wholesale vegetables in Brooks County, just outside of Pavo. My Dad grew up on a working farm in Coggin, Iowa until his father could no longer work the land. Bottomline, I have an understanding of the importance of the land and the hard life of farming.
It is inexcusable that we have allowed this administration’s false bravado and ignorance of international markets to harm our nation’s – our state’s – farmers. The president, Senator David Perdue and Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue, have declared tariff wars on our own farmers. They have – perhaps permanently – disrupted agricultural supply chains around the world. They have delayed emergency aid to Central and South Georgia communities hit by Category 5 Hurricane Michael for the effect of political ideology and grandstanding. They have caused deep harm to our Georgia rural communities because they take for granted the rural Georgia vote, presuming it will line up to be with them no matter what offense they levy. They are unfit to lead. I have a different view: one of agricultural prosperity – certainly a fighting chance for it.
— Teresa Tomlinson
AS YOUR NEXT SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF GEORGIA, I appreciate that agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry. In 2017, Georgia’s agriculture sector contributed $73.7 billion in output and provided more than 392,400 jobs. Our farmers lead the nation in poultry production, pecans and peanuts. I will work with our farmers and the broader agriculture community to:
- Reject trade policies that put our farmers and the agriculture industry at an economic disadvantage.
- Secure timely, adequate and easy to obtain relief in the aftermath of natural disasters.
- Advocate for funding of Georgia’s essential agricultural institutions and agencies to keep Georgia’s agriculture industry on the cutting edge.
- Reform the H2-A guest worker program to ensure farmers have access to a skilled and reliable workforce and propose a market-based visa program.
- Fully fund conservation programs that reward farmers who practice conservation methods related to land management, water conservation and more.
- Support initiatives that strengthen rural communities to ensure Georgia’s hardworking farmers have access to transportation, processing facilities, rural broadband expansion, health care services and related infrastructure needed to be successful and maintain a desirable quality of life.
- Support efforts that connect local farms to local market opportunities such as schools, hospitals and retail outlets providing rural communities easy access to fresh and affordable local food while also reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation required to ship food around the world.
- Expand opportunities for new and improved sectors within the agricultural economy, including urban agriculture, new cash crops like hemp and marijuana cultivation, value-added products and organic and sustainable farming.
- Support legislation that strengthens the African American farming community in Georgia by preventing land loss among their property owners, increasing the eligibility of black farmers for USDA loans and providing funding assistance to African American farmers to help pay legal fees to clear title on generationally handed-down farms.