Ga Dept of Agriculture


13th Annual Ag Day a Big Success


Georgia Department of Agriculture
Gary W. Black, Commissioner
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30334

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Press Release
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Office of Communications

13th Annual Ag Day a Big Success

Agriculture Week in Georgia is officially kicked off thanks to a successful Ag Day celebration held Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Hosted by Governor Nathan Deal and Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black, the event drew visitors from across Georgia, including members of the General Assembly, 4-H and FFA students and representatives of various agricultural organizations.

“This is a fun and educational event for all involved,” said Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “I always enjoy watching all of our commodity folks, ag groups, legislators and young people comingling together for the purpose of promoting and learning more about our great industry”

One of the highlights of the festivities was the awarding of John D. McCormick, a diversified row crop farmer from Bulloch County, as the 2016 Georgia Farmer of the Year. McCormick was recognized by Governor Nathan Deal, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue, and will represent Georgia as he competes in the 27th Anniversary of the Swisher Sweets / Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award to be presented in October.

“We are proud of all of our farmers in the state and it is such a privilege to recognize those who are going above and beyond in their conservation and production practices, such as Mr. McCormick,” Black said.

The distinguished group also congratulated the winners of the UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Science’s Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. The 2016 overall winner was Georgia Grown member Amanda Wilbanks, owner of Gainesville's Southern Baked Pie Company.

"We had over 100 products submitted this year and some of the toughest competition we've seen in the contest's 10-year history," said Sharon P. Kane, Flavor of Georgia contest coordinator. "The 33 products represented are truly the best of the best."

The popular contest consists of market-ready prototypes or commercially available food products from across the state that are judged and critiqued by a panel of food experts. Entries are judged based on flavor, best use of Georgian ingredients, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality.

Grand prize winner and confections: Southern Baked Pie Company (formerly Buttermilk Pie Company), Caramel Pecan Pie, Amanda Wilbanks, Gainesville

People's choice award: Carroll's Sausage and Meats, Medium Smoke Link Sausage, Johnny Walker, Ashburn

Barbecue sauces: Joe Kem's BBQ, Joe Kem's Barbecue Sauce, Joe Kem Lacey, Moultrie

Beverages: Muscadine Products Corporation, Paulk's Pride 100% White Muscadine Juice, Erin Boettger, Wray

Dairy products: Revolution Gelato, Nekkid Espresso Dairy-Free Gelato, Jared Olkin, Atlanta

Honey: Bruce's Nut-N-Honey Farm/The Honey Shack, Papa's Private Selection Honey 100% Pure, Raw, Unfiltered, Ben Bruce, Homerville

Jams and jellies: Wisham Jellies, Wild Mayhaw Pepper Jelly, Eric Wisham, Tifton

Marinades, sauces and rubs: The Salt Table, Leek, Chive and Onion Dip and Seasoning Blend, David and Carol Legasse, Savannah

Meat and seafood: Hunter Cattle Company, Hot Georgia Night Sausage, Del Ferguson, Brooklet

Miscellaneous: Beautiful Briny Sea, Pocketful of Starlight Vanilla Sugar, Atlanta

Salsas, chutneys and condiments: Abby J's Gourmet, Abby J's Blackhawk Field to Fork Sweet Fire Pickles, Abby Jackson, Clarkesville

Snack foods: Marsh Cabin Bakery, Kim's Cheese Straws-Pecan Cheddar, Kim Kaiser, Statesboro


About Georgia Grown The Georgia Grown program provides a powerful new branding tool as well as education, marketing and business connections to expand agribusinesses and the agricultural industry throughout Georgia. Learn more today at

About the GDA The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is the voice of the state’s agriculture community. The department's mission is to provide excellence in services and regulatory functions, to protect and promote agriculture and consumer interests, and to ensure an abundance of safe food and fiber for Georgia, America, and the world by using state-of-the-art technology and a professional workforce. For more information,