Growing Prosperity: Agriculture, Technology, and the Future of Farming

Southern state officials gathered in Atlanta for the “Growing Prosperity: Agriculture, Technology, and the Future of Farming” Policy Masterclass. Twenty officials from 11 CSG South states –Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia – participated in the event. 

Over two days, participants learned about recent developments in agriculture, technology, and relevant state and federal legislation. Briefings covered the current state of agriculture, farm labor shortages, food insecurity, agricultural trade, and the struggle of small rural farmers. Attendees visited the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Agricultural Technology Research Program to see new devices and techniques being developed to enhance agricultural methods and participated in roundtable discussions to hear from their colleagues about agricultural issues in Southern states. 

Experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology, American Farm Bureau Federation, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Center of Innovation, and AppHarvest shared their knowledge and insights with attendees through presentations and interactive briefings. Participants also met with Chancellor of the University System of Georgia Sonny Perdue to learn about his time as a state Senator (1991-2002), Governor of Georgia (2003-2011) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (2017-2021). 

The Masterclass was hosted by CSG South and moderated by Senator Tyler Harper of Georgia, chair of the CSG South Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. By interacting with subject matter experts and colleagues from other Southern states, participants increased their knowledge of agriculture, farm labor shortages, agricultural technology, and policies related to these issues. The Masterclass participants included: 

Representative Randall Shedd, Alabama 

Representative Harlan Breaux, Arkansas 

Representative Roger Lynch, Arkansas 

Representative Christine Hunschofsky, Florida 

Representative John Corbett, Georgia 

Representative Robert Dickey, Georgia 

Senator Tyler Harper, Georgia 

Senator Larry Walker, Georgia 

Representative David Wilkerson, Georgia 

Representative Phillip Pratt, Kentucky 

Senator Robin Webb, Kentucky 

Mr. Nicholas Cole, Louisiana 

Senator Tyler McCaughn, Mississippi 

Senator Benjamin Suber, Mississippi 

Representative Kenneth Walker, Mississippi 

Representative Jim Grego, Oklahoma 

Representative Russell Ott, South Carolina 

Representative Vincent Dixie, Tennessee 

Delegate Riley Keaton, West Virginia 

Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, West Virginia 

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App Harvest Small Rural Farmers GA COI Ag Tech Farm Labor Shortages