Gary W. Black has championed innovation, solutions, support and growth for Georgia’s Agriculture industry for over 40 years.
Gary believes with every fiber of his being that Agriculture Makes Life Better for Every Georgian and is dedicated to educating and aligning the Georgia Department of Agriculture staff, Georgia Legislature, Business Leaders and private citizens alike about the benefit and impact of Agriculture on our economy and day-to-day life in Georgia.
Gary grew up on his family’s beef cattle farm in Commerce, GA where he and his wife Lydia then raised their children, Ward and Caroline. He was an active member of FFA growing up, becoming State President of the Georgia FFA Association in 1975-76. Upon graduating from the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences with a degree in Agricultural Education, Gary completed an internship with the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and with Sen. Herman Talmadge before going to work for the Georgia Farm Bureau. After seven years of service, Gary became President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council where he served for 21 years.
Since taking office in 2011 as Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary has improved the department’s fiscal responsibility and performance, strengthened career paths for employees, and made great strides in the areas of food safety, marketing, and technology. Under Gary’s leadership, the Georgia Grown brand has been revitalized and is now recognized as a highly successful marketing and economic development program across Georgia and beyond our borders. In 2017, Gary was recognized as Georgia Trend magazine’s Georgian of the Year. Gary has spent the last eight years dedicated to Safe Foods, Strong Farms and Responsible Government and this vision continues to come to fruition as he looks to ensure that every Georgian recognizes the countless ways that Agriculture Makes Life Better.
Gary and Lydia continue to raise cattle at Harmony Grove Farms, and their grown children have both opted for career paths in agriculture. The Black’s teach 1st grade Sunday School and serve in the food service and music ministries of Maysville Baptist Church.