The Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee honored Andrea Whitfield Thursday as the 2020 Ag Partner of the Year.
The award was presented during the Annual Farm/City luncheon celebrating the partnerships between urban and agricultural businesses.
Whitfield is a crop insurance agent with AgSouth Farm Credit in Statesboro. She was presented the award by Cassie Justen, a member of the Chamber’s Agribusiness Committee, who also is a loan officer with AgSouth.
Justen stood in for 2019 Ag Partner of the Year Wade Hodges, a local farmer who was scheduled to give the honor but was unable to attend Thursday’s program. Reading from Hodges’s speech, Justen said Whitfield is “a true ag partner” whose skills and attention to farmers’ needs are “very much appreciated.’’
“Especially in times like these, you somehow muster up the spirit to keep us farmers and those around you all together,” Justen read from Hodges’ remarks. “Your love and passion for what you do is similar to that love of farming shared by all of us farmers.
“You’ve been so helpful to our operation and I know countless others locally. Ag partner is truly fitting for you, because that’s what you are – a partner. I feel like I can call you any time of day with a question, a concern and you are always more than happy to help me. You are a blessing to our community and you help us in ways you don’t even know.”
Whitfield was overwhelmed with emotion as she accepted the award. She expressed her love of Bulloch County and its agriculture praising the working collaboration between businesses and the farming community.
“Thank you all so much,” she said, obviously overcome by the honor.
“I truly love what I do every day,” Whitfield said. “I love this industry. I love what it stands for. I hope that somehow our great nation realizes what this industry does for America. Just what we stand for. The hard work and the caring and the work ethic that goes into what farmers do every day and what our ag industry does every day. It’s just amazing to me and I love being a part of it. It’s a small part and I love what I do.
“My parents are here and they taught me everything I do every day as far as work ethic and just loving the community and loving farming.”
The keynote speaker for the event was state Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton, chairman of the Georgia House of Representatives Agricultural Affairs Committee.
McCall spoke about changes in agriculture over the years, transitioning from using horses and mules to tractors and how technology has progressively made farming more productive. He also spoke of legislative matters including pending laws about hemp production in Georgia and laws prohibiting labeling food as meat “unless it comes from an animal.”
He also praised the Bulloch County Ag Arena, where the luncheon was held due to COVID-19 precautions.
“Bulloch County is very lucky” to have such a facility, he said, adding that the Bulloch arena exceeds the one in Perry in many aspects. The arena has hosted the largest roping event in the South as well as several other equestrian and canine shows since it opened last spring.