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UGA ag program pushes safer, longer-lasting food supplies

Breakfast reminds people of the importance of farming

POSTED: December 11, 2007 7:19 a.m.

An official of the University of Georgia told a Gainesville audience that the university, through its agricultural programs, is involved in alternative energy, pharmaceutical development and stem-cell research.

Laura Meadows, associate vice president for economic development at UGA, was the keynote speaker Tuesday morning for the annual Farm-City Week Breakfast at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

"We’re continuing to do things in agricultural research to make our food supply safer and longer lasting," Meadows said. "We’re breeding landscape plants that use less water and require less pesticides."

Meadows said that efforts to develop biofuels through cellulose will help make the United States less dependent on foreign oil.

"There’s a whole issue of national security and being energy independent," she said.

Meadows, a native of Cochran in Middle Georgia, served as assistant secretary of state in the administration of Cathy Cox. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 as state director for rural development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was the first woman in that post.

She said that growing up on a farm, she holds the work of farmers in awe.

"It’s amazing that people can deal with all the conditions that farmers deal with every day and find something to produce to put on the table and do it in mass quantity," she said.

Meadows began her new job at the University of Georgia in May.

"It allows me to combine two passions of mine ... economic development and the University of Georgia," she said. "Agriculture is at the forefront, and the most important part of economic development. My position is new, but economic development at UGA is not."

She said her first exposure to economic development was as a 10-year-old 4-H club member.

"At the time, I thought it was fun, and it was," Meadows said. "What I didn’t realize until many years later was that when I was 10, I started the program that would have the best work force development I would have in my life."

The annual breakfast is designed to remind city residents of the important work of those in agriculture. The event is sponsored by the Hall County Extension Service and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.


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