Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Agriculture Expert Tapped as Executive Director of the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness

Donnie Smith brings 40 years of agribusiness experience to position

Georgia’s Centers of Innovation program has named Donnie Smith, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s Liaison for Agriculture, as Executive Director of the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness headquartered in Tifton.

“Donnie’s decades of experience in the agriculture industry combined with his service to the state of Georgia will help the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness connect the industry with cutting-edge research,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “The Center of Innovation for Agribusiness is Georgia's central resource for accelerating growth in the agribusiness industry.”

Smith brings extensive industry and government experience to his new position. He has served for six years as the Governor’s Liaison for Agriculture and manages the Governor’s Agricultural Advisory Commission. Smith is a fifth-generation farmer, owner of Smith Farms located in Coffee and Atkinson Counties, and has over 40 years of experience in agribusiness.

Smith will retain several of his duties as Special Advisor to the Governor on Agriculture Affairs and will continue to lead the Governor’s Agriculture Advisory Commission. He is a past Georgia Lancaster Sunbelt Expo Farmer of the Year as well as a past Georgia Flue Cured Tobacco Farmer of the Year. Smith serves on the Georgia Rural Development Council and many local, state and national agriculture organizations.

“Donnie Smith is well positioned to continue to increase the momentum of the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness,” said Sterling Wharton, director of the Centers of Innovation. “His depth of industry experience and connections across the state will enable the Center to continue to advance the economic impact of agribusiness through innovation and technology.”

Smith takes the helm of the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness effective July 27.

The Center of Innovation for Agribusiness is housed at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Tifton Campus and provides statewide strategic industry expertise while accelerating growth among Georgia’s agribusiness industry across the state. For more information about the center, please visit agribusiness.georgiainnovation.org.

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