State Sen. George Gainer is the organization's Senator of the Year for his hard work in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
State Senator George Gainer is being honored for his hard work in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
The Florida Farm Bureau recognizes legislators for their support of the Florida agriculture industry and this year Gainer has earned the honor of Senator of the Year from the group. Gainer represents citizens in Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, and Jackson Counties.
“Senator Gainer and his staff were relentless in supporting agricultural recovery from Hurricane Michael,” Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick said in a news release. “The farmers and ranchers in that community were hit hard, and he provided a strong voice working on their behalf.”
Hurricane Michael damaged much of the agricultural production in its path in Gainer's district, the organization said. Florida Farm Bureau chose Gainer for the award because he "tirelessly worked to ensure that those communities and businesses affected by the storm were not forgotten," the release said.
"It's one I'm very proud of," Gainer said Wednesday of earning the award. "(Winning) the Senator of the Year award for agriculture is a little unusual because we don't have that much agriculture up here except for the lumber industry and the paper industry. So many of us depend on the paper mill and have for years and years. Half of us wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for that paper mill."
Gainer noted that about half of the pine trees in the county were lost during Hurricane Michael, and said he was proud of the work he did alongside other state leaders.
"I'm very honored they would pick an unlikely candidate like myself," he added.
In addition to sponsoring bills to provide relief to the area and playing a key role in successfully passing sales tax relief on materials used to rebuild agricultural infrastructure, Gainer also used his position in Tallahassee to highlight the need for disaster assistance for the agricultural and rural communities in his district.
The board has also named James Grant, Tampa, as the Representative of the Year and also recognized 16 other legislative leaders as Champions for Agriculture. Included from the list of Champions from the Panhandle were Brad Drake, Loranne Ausley, and Bill Montford.