Governor visits cattlemen group

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COVINGTON -- Gov. Nathan Deal was the star attraction at a special called meeting of the Piedmont Cattlemen's Association at the FFA-FCCLA Center Thursday night.

Deal reminisced about childhood summer days spent at the center, encouraged youth in attendance and spoke of the importance of agriculture to the state's economy.

Deal's father was a vocational agriculture teacher and as a boy, he spent his summers at the FFA Center and learned to swim in Lake Jackson. The governor won several medals on the state and national level for livestock judging and public speaking as a member of FFA.

"I cannot think of anything more important to learn than what you learn when you show livestock," Deal said, particularly addressing the youth in attendance. He added that the activity teaches self-discipline, because when the heifer or steer doesn't cooperate, it's easy to lose your temper. Self-discipline and discipline of the animal are valuable skills learned, he said.

Also, no matter if it's raining outside or what else is happening, animals always have to be fed and cared for, he said. Applying that principle to every life activity "will make you successful no matter what you choose to do," Deal said.

He said the cattle industry is one of the most important to the Georgia economy.

"A lot of people don't know what it's like to grow up on a farm," he said. "Sometimes you encounter those that think they know what's best for everybody and try to impose rules on them."

Deal said that as long as he's governor, "I will try to do my best to protect the agriculture industry and not put up impediments and undue hardships."

Representatives with the Georgia Cattlemen's Association and several area associations were in attendance at the special called meeting, which included a steak dinner that the governor said he couldn't wait to enjoy.

Steve Blackburn, president of the Georgia Cattlemen's Association, said the cattle industry is going strong, but encouraged those in attendance to contact their elected officials with ideas to help their industry.