For over 35 years Gary W. Black has championed sound state and federal policies impacting food safety, science-based environmental stewardship and agricultural marketing. Now serving his second term, Commissioner Black remains committed to fostering growth in Georgia's number one industry.
Black's love of agriculture was first sparked on his family's farm in Commerce. He became an active member of the Commerce FFA and was elected State President of the Georgia FFA Association in 1975. Black then attended the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences where he earned a degree in Agricultural Education and interned with Sen. Herman Talmadge and the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture.
Upon completing his degree at UGA, Black went to work for the Georgia Farm Bureau as the Young Farmers coordinator. After seven years with Farm Bureau, he was named President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council where he served for 21 years as a tireless advocate for farmers and agribusinesses across the state.
Commissioner Black was first elected in November 2010 and immediately set out to retool the Department of Agriculture so that it could continue to serve farmers and producers in a 21st century economy. Georgia Grown-the Department's marketing and economic development arm-was revitalized as a business-minded program that seeks to help Georgia producers find new markets and consumers. With over 800 license holders in the areas of production, processing, retail and agritourism, the Georgia Grown brand's economic impact can be seen in every corner of the state and beyond. As part of the Department's new goal to bolster local economies and local food systems, the Department of Agriculture and Georgia Grown launched the Feed My School program which aims to connect local school systems with producers in their area. In recognition of these successes, Commissioner Black was named Georgia Trend Magazine's Georgian of the Year in 2017.
Despite all this, Gary W. Black would rather be referred to as Lydia's husband and Ward and Caroline's dad. He and Lydia continue to raise commercial beef cattle on his family farm in Commerce. The Blacks are also active in the Sunday school and music ministries of Maysville Baptist Church.