Lee Anderson has been actively involved in the Georgia Farm Bureau since he was 18 and starting out in agriculture.
"The farm bureau is an insurance company. But the farm bureau, first of all, is the largest farm organization in the state, representing over 400,000 family members. We are the largest farm organization in the state," said Vincent "Tippy" Duvall, a member of the state farm bureau board of directors representing 17 counties, including Columbia County. "No. 1, we are supportive of agriculture."
Photo by Valerie Rowell
Anderson, who grows hay, timber and summer vegetables and raises beef cattle, is a Columbia County commissioner.
He also serves as president of Columbia County's farm bureau chapter and recognizes the opportunities his involvement has given him.
"I've been in it 30 years. I was able to go places and meet people I never would have met if I hadn't been in the farm bureau," said Anderson, who also served on the state board of directors as the young farmer representative in 1987. "It's a tremendous opportunity for a young person."
The county chapter awards scholarships to young people considering a career in agriculture. The group presented a $1,000 scholarship to Scott Harmon, 18, of Grovetown, at the group's Oct. 13 annual meeting in Harlem.
"I got involved in the agriculture education program in high school. I fell in love with it from there," Harmon said.
He decided to pursue agriculture education after John Joyner, his agriculture teacher at Harlem High, took him under his wing. Harmon recently started his first year at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga.
Pete Allen, the chapter vice president, said that less than a decade ago when he came on board, the Columbia County chapter boasted nearly 1,500 members.
"As of now, we are running a little over 2,400 members," Allen said. "That's a pretty good increase in less than 10 years."
A 1959 farm census listed Columbia County as having 425 working farms, from cattle to cotton. The 2000 census shows only 196.
Mary Cain, the chapter's office manager, said of the current membership, roughly 200 are farm memberships, meaning they have an occupation in the agriculture industry. Those farmer members are the only ones who get to vote at meetings. The other 2,200 associate members use the farm bureau's insurance or other services.
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