From Ag Hill to Capitol Hill

University of Georgia’s ties to national agriculture policy are well represented in Washington, D.C., by three men with strong connections to the university and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

In October 2018, former CAES Dean J. Scott Angle was sworn in as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a 1971 graduate of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.

Perdue, who served as Georgia’s governor from 2003 to 2011, is founder and partner of Perdue Partners agricultural trading company. Prior to his appointment as secretary of agriculture in 2017, he served on the Governors’ Council of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

“Since 1859, UGA’s CAES has earned respect from around the world. It has a reputation of impeccable customer experience. Georgia farmers know their Extension county agents by first name. They have them on their VIP speed dial. The county agent is a part of the Georgia farmer’s family,” said Secretary Perdue.

“CAES makes an impact worldwide — from research to understand how microbes affect crop production to developing a process to disinfect surfaces and reduce bacterial contamination for food service and manufacturing — CAES is on the cutting edge of agricultural research. Our motto at USDA is to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone’ — CAES exemplifies that motto in its mission to Georgia, our nation and around the world.”

Angle, who served as dean and director of CAES for 10 years, said CAES does extraordinary work keeping connections strong within Georgia’s agricultural industry.

“Georgia has one of the strongest agricultural economies in the U.S., and it’s no coincidence that it also has one of the strongest land-grant colleges of agriculture. What amazed me most during my 10 years in the dean’s office was the seamless interaction between the various agricultural organizations in the state including the Georgia Farm Bureau, the Commissioner of Agriculture, all of the commodity and business groups, and the other agricultural teaching institutions in the state,” said Angle, who was president and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center in Alabama before beginning the six-year appointment with NIFA.

“In my current national role, I have yet to see another state where the relationships are as strong across the spectrum. That same level of uncommon cooperation is also seen within the college where teaching, research and extension work so well together. It’s my belief that land-grant colleges are strongest when these three groups are fully integrated. That was true when colleges were established long ago — and it’s still true today,” he added. NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education and extension to help solve national challenges in agriculture, food, the environment and communities and is a major source of research revenue for universities with strong agriculture programs such as UGA.

President of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) since January 2016, Zippy Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia and a supporter of CAES. Two of his four children are also graduates. His son, Zeb Duvall (BSA — Animal Science, ’11), studied animal science at CAES before graduating from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015. His daughter, Zellie Duvall (BSA — Agricultural Communications, ’14), works on agricultural policy in Washington, D.C., with the office of U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, who represents Georgia’s 12th District.

Prior to being elected AFBF president, Duvall served for nine years as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau.

“Every day, farmers and ranchers face an amazing challenge — to be more efficient, productive and sustainable than they were the day before. Fortunately, they have a strong ally in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” Duvall said. “The research that is done at the college not only benefits Georgia farmers, but farmers all over the world. Extension programs deliver the latest, cutting-edge technology so farmers can be competitive. The important work that is done at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences touches the lives of millions on and off the farm every day.”  

By Maria M. Lameiras

Sonny Perdue and Scott Angle
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Dr. Scott Angle address the media on October 29, 2018, at the NIFA Waterfront Centre in Washington, D.C. (PHOTO BY PRESTON KERES/USDA. SCREEN CAPTURE FROM RFD-TV)

Sonny Perdue at Farm Bill Awards ceremony
Perdue hosts the Farm Bill Awards ceremony on March 5, 2018, to thank USDA and House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff for their hard work on the 2018 Farm Bill. (PHOTO BY PRESTON KERES/USDA. SCREEN CAPTURE FROM RFD-TV)

Zippy Duvall on RFD-TV news
This screen capture shows American Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall discussing agricultural trade on RFD-TV news. (PHOTO )BY PRESTON KERES/USDA. SCREEN CAPTURE FROM RFD-TV)