Ga. governor, first lady help kick-off 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo

2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo kicks off in Moultrie

MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp spent all morning in Southwest Georgia at the 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo.

Day one of the expo was an exciting one as the community welcomed plenty of special guests.

The expo began at the 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and it wasn’t going to start without the proper welcome.

Kemp, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and many more were in attendance at the morning’s opening ceremony.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaking at the 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaking at the 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo (Source: WALB)

Something Kemp said he’s no stranger to, having been to the expo many times before.

The governor and Marty said they want the people to know that he’s fighting hard for farmers and farm families, especially after Hurricane Michael.

“Last year, we were experienced what was a generational loss and a devastating hurricane, so we’re trying to do our part to promote Georgia agriculture and the Georgia Grown program and all the good things that we have in our state," said Kemp.

Kemp said the state has seen some rough times as far as farming goes, but he said he thinks better days are ahead.

Cooking demo with Ga.'s first lady helps kick off 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo

To show her support for local farmers, First Lady Marty Kemp participated in a special Georgia Grown Showcase. It was created to encourage the use of locally grown products, hence the name.

WALB spoke with Georgia Grown Executive Chef Holly Chute and Marty about why this program is so important.

“We need to support our farmers, we need to support our programs and just make people more aware of what’s grown in Georgia. So, we were very excited to do that. So, we’re down here doing a cooking show just to show everybody what we grow in Georgia and how they can make great recipes from it," said Marty.

Marty shared that she and the governor wanted to come to the expo to show their support for hard-working Georgians.

Chute said she adores Marty and is glad she helps bring awareness to such a positive program.

Kemp and his wife also attended the naming of the 2019 Swisher Sweets and Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.

Southeastern Farmer of the Year named at day 1 of 2019 Sunbelt Ag Expo

The award recognized excellence in agricultural production, farm management and leadership in farm and community organizations.

Out of ten finalists, a group of Judges chose Michael McDowell from Vernon Hill, Virginia.

Michael McDowell was named the 2019 Southeastern Farmer of the Year
Michael McDowell was named the 2019 Southeastern Farmer of the Year (Source: WALB)

He’s a fourth-generation farmer who grows hay, alfalfa and raises award-winning Angus cattle.

McDowell went on stage during the Willie B. Withers Luncheon, where he was named the winner. He said that he was hesitant about even entering the competition until he was convinced.

“He said, ‘Mike, how do you know that that venture will not carry you to where you can tell others about Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?’ I was convicted then. I said, ‘OK, we have to go,'" said McDowell.

McDowell said he’s transitioned into a bit of a preacher. He will receive an award of over $17,000.

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