Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gary Black Unveils Plan for Responsible Government

Says that Some Republicans Have Lost Sight of Core Principle of Small Government

Gary Black today added a focus on responsible government to his other top issues of safe food and strong farms, finalizing his three part action agenda as Georgia's next Agriculture Commissioner.

"It seems that Republicans have lost sight of one of our core principles: that government should be as small as possible and focus on providing a narrow set of deliverables to its customers - the taxpayers," Black said. "The vital services citizens choose to delegate to government must be performed responsibly, with professionalism and a focus on service."

Black laid out a five point plan to achieve responsible governance in the Agriculture Department including:

Implementing a strategic planning process aimed at improving employee morale, administrative efficiency, and service to the taxpayer. The development team will include current employees, consumer and regulated stakeholders. With broad-based input, we can set benchmarks and thereby chart a measurable path to exceptional service in the future.
Initiating a thorough review of all laws impacting the operation of the department and then streamlining and modernizing them with the help of the Legislature. The budget will then be published online so that taxpayers can monitor the monthly financial statements of the department.

Ensuring that all enforcement actions be consistently applied with wisdom and understanding. Maximum fines should not always be levied, nor should the minimum be the usual settlement. Examples of pet store owners with multiple dozens of citations indicate a nimble will or a weak law. We need to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that we improve taxpayer confidence in this fundamental responsibility.

Working to improve public access to regulatory scorecards. Department of Agriculture employees inspect food sales establishments, warehouses, processing plants, fuel pumps, pest control applications and a wide range of other areas that touch every consumer and many agriculturally-oriented businesses. User-friendly online resources and live customer service representatives will be available to assist providing prompt, accurate answers to taxpayer questions.
Providing proper training and certification for employees and the proficient use of information technology. Inspectors of regulated industries that require certain training or licensing for their employees should be required at a minimum to hold the basic certification or license of the business they inspect.

Adding new, online features to the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin which has provided a vital link between the Department and Georgia citizens for several generations. The 21st century Market Bulletin will be subscription-based with an affordable fee, but will be aimed at better serving readers throughout the state. Online ads will be real-time with picture upload capabilities, a Craig's List format for example. We will continue to serve those Georgians who enjoy the traditional newsprint version. But, we must also explore and provide new media applications to bring relevance to the next generation.

"Agriculture is the foundation on which Georgia was built and it will be a big part of the financial engine that drives us into what I believe will be a very bright future," Black said. "As Agriculture Commissioner, I will make the department I lead a modern, efficient, fair and customer friendly organization that will help guide and support this critical industry toward that bright future."

Gary Black is a Republican candidate for Georgia Agriculture Commissioner. His first experience as an advocate for agriculture came at age 17 when he served as Georgia FFA State President. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Agricultural Education in 1980. Gary began his career with the Georgia Farm Bureau in 1980 supervising the young farmer leadership development program for Georgia's largest general farm organization. In 1989, leaders of the Georgia Agribusiness Council selected Gary as its President--a role he held for 21 years. In 1993 Gary organized AgriTrust of Georgia, a self-funded workers compensation insurance fund that now provides coverage for over 17,000 agricultural employees in Georgia. Gary helped lead efforts to manage the Showcase of Southern Agriculture during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta and also co-managed the Georgia Food Industry Partnership, a food safety and quality research consortium, for the past 13 years. Gary and his wife Lydia, have two children, Ward and Caroline. Together, the family operates Harmony Grove Farms in Commerce, GA and are active members of the Maysville Baptist Church.


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