VALDOSTA — “It’s time for a change” is Brian Kemp’s campaign motto for the candidacy of state agriculture commissioner.

Kemp, a senator from Athens, is giving up his seat with the Georgia State Senate in an attempt to defeat Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, who has held the position since 1969.

“I’ve seen firsthand that we need a change. We need new leadership in that department,” Kemp said.

Kemp’s focus is on protecting families and promoting farmers. He aims to reinvent the technological and innovation of the state’s department of agriculture and target areas like agro-terrorism by prevention rather than reaction.

“So far, they’ve done a fairly good job with preparing to react, but not to prevent,” Kemp said. “We need to have some vision before we have a crisis and not after.”

Among Kemp’s platform topics is an aggressive agenda to up the state’s protection of families. He said he wants to promote technology by expanding research at universities and renewing the focus on research advancement. He looks to work with the University of Georgia to help with developing new plants, fertilizers, pesticides and fuels, and with the Georgia Institute of Technology to assist with bio and nano technologies and advancement.

Kemp said technological advances like a spray coating that would change the outside of a product’s color — like a gallon of milk — to alert consumers of contamination or expiration is one of the items being explored.

He said focusing on revitalizing services to farmers, addressing rising property taxes and renewing the connection between research universities and farmers are some of his main goals.

Kemp looks to revamp the agriculture department’s Web site to make it user friendly and wants to implement a service where citizens can be alerted by email if there is a food illness or recall issue.

He said the No. 1 concern should be protection of food from terrorist attacks.

“We need to make sure we’re diligent and continue to work every day,” Kemp said.

Other areas Kemp addresses include researching the drop in the timber industry and making Georgia farmers more competitive in the global market. He looks at opening up new markets like using crops for bio mass in the making of alternative fuel and pushing incentives for veterinarians to go into large animal practices in rural areas.

Kemp also has a plan to address the issue of childhood obesity by educating parents and kids about healthy foods. He wants to partner with school systems to implement healthy programs and post information on the Web site.

“Obesity in the state is an epidemic for young people and is costing the state a lot of money,” Kemp said.

Kemp said he thinks he has a good chance of defeating Irvin because of his experience and background in the Senate.

“We have a good chance of winning. I wouldn’t be leaving the Senate if we didn’t think that,” he said.

React to this story:


Trending Video

Recommended for you