More than 180 guests flocked to Fort Valley State University’s C.W. Pettigrew Farm and Community Life Center on April 4 to enjoy a country breakfast and discuss agriculture and politics with elected officials in Georgia.
The 36th Annual Ham & Egg Legislative Breakfast, an event hosted by FVSU’s College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, attracted a crowd consisting of mayors, congressmen, state representatives, local officials and community members.
Rep. Calvin Smyre, an FVSU alumnus and 44-year veteran in the Georgia legislature, presided over the breakfast. The long-time lawmaker opened the event with an homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th year of his passing by saying this is a time to reflect, move forward and focus on Dr. King’s message of hope for all.
Representatives from the Georgia state legislature, U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Fort Valley State University made presentations and provided updates on agriculture and legislation affecting the lives of Georgians.
Anne Hazlett, assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at the USDA, says that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue relies on issues discussed at forums such as the Ham & Egg Legislative Breakfast to get a plan on developing viable solutions. “He cares first and foremost what people living in rural America need and what they see as their hopes and future and how we can be a partner to that. Events like this allow us to take that feedback back to him,” Hazlett said.
Rep. Robert Dickey says he looks forward to the breakfast every year. “I get to interact with a lot of people involved with agriculture, agricultural education and rural development. It’s a great way to focus on the issues and start looking for solutions to things.”
In addition, elected official Joyce Denson, who is in her first term as mayor of Toomsboro, said she learned the state’s Quality Basic Education initiative is fully funded, and her town can benefit from the USDA’s Rural Development programs. She says those two developments will be helpful to people in her community.
Dr. Paul Jones, president of FVSU, said he is pleased that the Ham and Egg Legislative Breakfast serves as a platform to promote the university’s contributions to the field of agriculture and for constituents to have one-on-one interaction with their legislators.
“We have a rich legacy in which we’ve been able to share these important updates. This is a great opportunity for us as a university to host this and bring together key individuals from our state and from the federal government. I’m just thrilled that we can play an important role in this.”
For more information about future programs hosted by FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program, call (478) 825-6296.