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Gary Black, Georgia's highly respected previous Commissioner of Agriculture, has been named the 2023 Bobby Walker Award recipient by Georgia Milk Producers, Inc. This is the highest honor awarded by Georgia's premier dairy farm organization to someone who has provided meritorious service to the dairy industry.

He will be honored at the organization's Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, January 17th during the Georgia Dairy Conference, held in Savannah, Georgia.

Since his first election in 2011, the Georgia Department of Agriculture's divisions of information technology, animal health, homeland security, and food safety have garnered national acclaim.

"Over the past twelve years, Gary Black has been a tireless advocate for, and friend to, Georgia farmers," said Georgia Milk Producers President Matt Johnson. "His efforts to promote sound environmental policies, his support for youth livestock programs, his leadership of the Georgia Grown program, and his willingness to work directly with producers when we have a concern or a problem are qualities deserving of receiving the Bobby Walker award."

As Commissioner of Agriculture, Black has championed for marketing and promoting Georgia's agricultural commodities and overhauled the state's agricultural marketing program, Georgia Grown. Under the Georgia Grown banner, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has made significant investments in school nutrition, assisted thousands of small businesses find new markets, and expanded consumer outreach via the Georgia Grown Test Kitchen and the popular Georgia Grown Baby Barn at the Georgia National Fair.

In addition to his promotion of Georgia dairy farmers, Gary Black has delivered policies that support Georgia farm families when they needed it most. "In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018, Commissioner Black worked overtime to make sure every sector in Georgia's agricultural economy was included in the recovery program," said Bryce Trotter, Executive Director of Georgia Milk Producers.

"Traditional disaster relief programs are very limited when it comes to animal agriculture, but Commissioner Black made sure that dairy farmers in South Georgia were included in USDA relief efforts. He has a vision and a heart for all of Georgia agriculture."

Prior to winning elected office, Black spent 21 years as President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council after a stint as Georgia Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Program Coordinator. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and is a past president of the of the college's alumni association.

Black is a Leadership Georgia Pattillo Award recipient and the 2017 Georgia Trend Magazine Georgian of the Year. He and his wife Lydia raise commercial beef cattle on their family farm in Commerce, GA, and serve together in various ministries at Maysville Baptist Church.

The Bobby Walker Award (formerly titled the "Friend of the Dairy Industry" Award) is the highest honor given by Georgia's dairy industry, and is presented annually at the Georgia Dairy Conference. Established in 2003, the award recognizes an individual that has worked to strengthen the dairy industry through leadership, advocacy, and service.