Georgia's agriculture commissioner, Tommy Irvin, called the promotion of Georgia-grown crops and commodities one of his priorities during a stop Thursday at the Tracy-Luckey plant in Harlem.
Tracy-Luckey, a provider of roasted, salted and praline pecans to ice cream manufacturers, wholesalers and confectioners, invited the commissioner to tour its facility on North Hicks Street while he was in the area for the Masters Tournament.
"It's our business to promote anything in agriculture and ... pecans are a major commodity in Georgia," Irvin said.
He watched operations at the plant, including the cracking, sorting, roasting and shipping of pecans.
"You know you are running your operation right when you invite the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture," said Ruth Tracy, Tracy-Luckey's chief executive officer.
She said Irvin's counsel and leadership have been instrumental in the company's expansion. Tracy-Luckey employs 40 to 60 people in Harlem, depending on the season, she said.
"(You) taught me it's easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission, and that's what has helped me keep this company running," Tracy said to Irvin.
Irvin is running for his 10th term as agriculture commissioner; if he wins, he said, it would be his final term in office.
Irvin said he decided to run one last time because of world events, such as bird flu and terrorism, that could endanger Georgia's food supply. Faced with four Republican challengers, Irvin, a Democrat, said it was unwise to change to untested leadership in the Agriculture Department when such threats exist.
Irvin, who said he was initially reluctant to enter politics early in his career, is the longest-serving statewide officeholder in Georgia.
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