Retirement greetings

Sen. Saxby Chambliss shakes hands with Marilyn Smith during an event in his honor Wednesday night.

TIFTON — Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ role as an agriculture advocate in the United States Congress was celebrated Wednesday during a retirement banquet at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center attended by those impacted by Chambliss’ leadership — Georgia’s agricultural leaders, including state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, as well as Georgia farmers and University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences administrators.

“He’s just been a very strong leader, very positive, very good for the state of Georgia and very good for our industry in Georgia,” said Joe West, assistant dean on the UGA Tifton Campus. “He also had a huge impact nationwide because of what he accomplished at the federal level. In agriculture and so many other areas, he’s had a significant impact in our government and we’re going to miss him.”

Chambliss served two terms as a United States Senator for Georgia and four terms in the House of Representatives. He chaired the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee during the 109th Congress and served as a ranking member of the committee during the 110th and 111th Congresses. Chambliss wrote four Farm Bills, helped rewrite the Crop Insurance Program and was instrumental in researching funds being distributed to university systems across the country, including the University System of Georgia, which includes UGA.

The Moultrie resident provided a voice for south Georgia farmers and agricultural leaders at the federal level.

“Saxby was always a friend of agricultural and rural Georgia. He worked desperately, serving on the House ag committee, Senate ag committee. He worked hard to be sure the Farm Bill was for farmers,” said Donnie Smith, a farmer, close friend and former director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness. “He’ll be missed. He’s done a great job. He always looked at the university system and supported research, which we know is critical in making things happen for our farmers.”

Chambliss is very complimentary of the research being done on UGA campuses in Athens, Griffin and Tifton.

“Being a University of Georgia graduate, I have a natural tie there. I also have very close ties with the research station in Tifton and the work that’s done here. I got to know the folks in Griffin and other parts of the state during my tenure in D.C. I’m just very proud that when I go around the country and I talk to ag groups and we start talking research, they bring up to me the great work that’s done by the University of Georgia,” Chambliss said.

The appreciation is felt amongst the UGA CAES leadership as well.

“He and Senator (Johnny) Isakson have been really good friends of the UGA College of Ag. Of course land-grant institutions like the University of Georgia receive federal funding, so what our legislators do with the farm bill and funding affects what we’re able to do in ag research. Having their support and understanding is crucial. We’ve had that with Senator Chambliss,” West said.

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