Winner of ‘Commissioner for a Day’ bid sees the GDA in action
By Ava Jane Teasley for Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin
Cobb County businesswoman Elaine Armster served as Agriculture Commissioner for a Day June 8, a privilege she bid for and won through a silent auction benefiting the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.
Armster, managing partner of project management firm Linkscape360, said the experience allowed her to find opportunities available to small businesses through Georgia agencies. She intentionally chose the Department of Agriculture while also supporting the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.
“I thought it would be great to learn more about the department of agriculture. You expect one thing, but of course, it is always so much more than that,” Armster said. “This has been such a great day to learn more.”
Armster and Commissioner Gary Black began their day visiting with Vidalia onion grower G&R Farms and the Georgia FFA Association State Officers at an Atlanta Kroger. Vidalia Onions are packaged with the FFA emblem and Georgia Grown logo on the bag, and the visit to Kroger highlighted the success of the Georgia Grown marketing program. Armster witnessed the full circle effect from meeting the farmer and the seller, and seeing the product.
Black led Armster on a tour of the department’s headquarters in Atlanta, where she learned from the deparment’s IT
Division how geographic information system technology is used to ensure the integrity of Georgia’s food supply.
“I never realized how much technology was in agriculture,” Armster said. “The tracking of the supply chain, you can’t get much more tech-nical than that. We know what lot the product came from and what farm it is from.”
During a visit to the Food Safety lab on the top floor of the agriculture building, she learned about the inspection process for packaged food and dairy products. New products are tested daily to ensure consumer safety. Even during the pandemic, those in the Food Safety Division never left work.
Armster is from Thomasville and was in-volved in 4-H when she was younger. Now, she is a member of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and works with the small business task force within the Geor-gians First Commission. She said her goal is to create a network path for businesses, no matter their industry.
“I am a lifelong learner, so supporting a great organization like Georgia’s National Guard Family Support Foundation and learning about the latest and greatest trends in agriculture was two checks off my list,” she said.