State Sen. Tyler Harper, an Irwin County farmer now campaigning to grow to be Georgia’s commissioner of agriculture, visited Statesboro on Friday and talked about how he needs to construct on his previous position in farming-related laws to grow to be the state’s main official promoter of agriculture, its largest business.
Current Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black is just not looking for re-election however is as an alternative one of many Republican main candidates vying to problem Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock within the Nov. 8, 2022, common election. When Black introduced his plans, Harper noticed an apparent alternative “to have a bigger voice in an industry” that he has “a passion about,” he stated.
So far he’s the one declared Republican contender for the workplace and the one agriculture commissioner candidate of both celebration who has filed a marketing campaign finance report with the State Ethics Commission this yr. But he famous that some Democrats are stated to be operating, and candidates don’t qualify till March for the May 24 main.
Harper’s background as a seventh-generation Georgia farmer, previous service as president of the Georgia Young Farmers Association and schooling have all helped put together him, he stated. He attained first an affiliate diploma from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and then a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering on the University of Georgia.
“And then my almost 10 years in the state Senate where I’ve been able to get results for Georgia agriculture and producers, farmers and consumers across the state, I think has set up and given me a good platform to run for ag commissioner,” Harper stated.
Now 35, Harper was simply 26 when first elected the Georgia Senate from the seventh District in 2012 and is now in his fifth two-year time period. He has served on the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee since he first arrived within the Legislature and presently chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Agriculture-related points he has labored on as a lawmaker embrace “everything from water rights to private property rights” and “ensuring that tax policy continues to be fair and equitable for the ag industry,” he stated.
One extensively mentioned piece of laws he sponsored within the Senate was 2019’s House Bill 213, signed into legislation by Gov. Brian Kemp as the Georgia Hemp Farming Act.
“I was one of the primary sponsors of working through the hemp legislation and bringing a new commodity to our state and allowing it to be part of the portfolio if ag producers in Georgia wanted to participate in that,” Harper stated.
Not to be confused with medical marijuana laws, the Hemp Farming Act approved the rising and processing of hemp, with a strictly regulated low THC content material, as an industrial product. The legislation set annual licensing charges and testing and bonding necessities for hemp growers and processors and approved additional analysis into hemp manufacturing.
Elementary faculty ag
Harper additionally backed at the very least one agriculture-related legislation administered via the state’s Department of Education. In 2018, he was one among 11 sponsors of a Georgia Agriculture Education Act that created a pilot program for agriculture lessons in elementary faculties, funded beneath the Quality Basic Education method at accepted faculties.
As a senator, Harper has supported enlargement of broadband web service in rural areas. This can be one thing he says he would proceed to advocate for as agriculture commissioner.
“Expanding rural broadband is just as important to agriculture, and I’ve been an advocate for expansion of broadband across this state and will continue to do so because in the ag industry it’s become more of a worldwide market today than it ever has been in the past,” Harper stated.
So, dependable broadband has grow to be important for Georgia farmers and agribusinesses to stay aggressive, he stated.
“As a member of the Legislature I have a direct role in working on the issue, but as the commissioner you can continue to be an advocate and a voice in working to ensure that the needs are met for the industry,” Harper stated. “I think that’s part of what being ag commissioner is about … trying to help address those needs in your capacity as the top advocate for the agricultural industry in the state.”
If elected agriculture commissioner, he stated, he’ll proceed to construct on the Georgia Grown program, which he stated Black has overseen with a lot success.
Enabled by varied items of laws through the years, Georgia Grown is a advertising and marketing program for merchandise grown in Georgia or constituted of Georgia-grown produce. Producers and entrepreneurs pay charges to make use of the label. The program additionally consists of efforts to encourage use of Georgia produce at school meals.
“We can continue to build on those types of things to ensure that our producers and farmers have a market and that consumers have reliability in the products that they buy because they know where their food products come from,” Harper stated.
As commissioner, he would additionally work to “level the playing field” and guarantee Georgia agricultural producers are “put first” the place commerce offers are involved, he stated.
Supply chain issues in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the significance of provide points to customers as effectively as farmers, he stated.
“By leveling the playing field, the consumer can be confident in knowing that their food supply is sustainable and safe but at the same time it’s cost-effective and competitive in the market place, but also is secure,” he stated. “I think that’s part of the conversation … because that’s a national security issue at the same time.”
Part of assembly that concern ought to be “ensuring that we’re doing everything that we can to produce what we need within our borders,” he stated.
Harper grows peanuts, cotton and timber and raises beef cattle on a pair hundred acres of family-owned land close to Ocilla, he stated. His father works with him and the household additionally maintains some industrial and residential rental property.
Tyler Harper has been enjoying the piano since age 5 and presently performs piano and guitar “almost every Sunday” at Satilla Baptist Church, the place he’s a member. He is single and has no kids. He stated he has a plan to maintain his farm in operation whereas serving in full-time state workplace.