Bill Brim, Foster Rhodes to be inducted into Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame
By Clint Thompson for CAES News
This year’s Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees have impacted Georgians from the dinner table to the fairgrounds.
Bill Brim, a Tift County farmer and strong advocate for Georgia agriculture, and Foster Rhodes, who was instrumental in establishing the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Georgia, will be inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame as part of the 65th University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Alumni Association Awards banquet on Oct. 4.
The Alumni Award of Excellence and Young Alumni Achievement Award recipients will also be honored. The public is invited to attend the event, which will be held at The Classic Center in downtown Athens, Georgia. Tickets are required and must be purchased by Sept. 13.
“The UGA CAES Alumni Association is extremely proud of this year’s inductees into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame and looks forward to celebrating them on Oct. 4. Mr. Brim and Mr. Rhodes are so deserving of this distinguished honor for their lifetime of impact on their businesses, their communities and our state,” said Brent Marable, president of the UGA CAES Alumni Association Board of Directors. “The continued contributions that each of them makes to the agricultural sector are helping secure food, fiber and shelter for the next generation and beyond.”
Inductees are nominated by the public and selected by the CAES Alumni Association’s awards committee. Nominees must possess the following characteristics: impeccable character, outstanding leadership, noteworthy contributions to Georgia’s agricultural landscape, and recognition for achievements in agriculture, among others.
This year’s recipients — Brim and Rhodes — will be honored because of their long history of agricultural impact in Georgia.
Brim established himself as an industry leader when he, along with Ed Walker, purchased Lewis Taylor Farms in 1985. Over the next five years, Brim helped transform Lewis Taylor Farms into a diversified transplant and vegetable production farm operation.
When Brim became a co-owner of Lewis Taylor Farms, it had only 87,000 square feet of greenhouse production space. The farm now boasts 81 greenhouses with more than 649,000 square feet of production space.
With Brim’s expertise in vegetable production, he was a natural fit to collaborate with scientists from the UGA CAES in various research projects with far-reaching implications.
“Bill Brim is obviously one of the best produce and agronomic producers in the world. He took me under his wing and helped me learn not only how to identify, but how to grow and produce vegetables,” said Stanley Culpepper, UGA Cooperative Extension weed specialist.
Brim’s most important attribute may be his willingness to speak his mind and stand up for farmers everywhere at the state and federal levels.
He served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency State Committee, where he and fellow committee members reviewed and interpreted USDA policy and guidelines relating to farm bill programs and the implementation of on-the-farm applications for farmers and agricultural businesses across Georgia.
“Somebody’s got to speak up. I just happened to be the one that wasn’t scared to speak up and talk about what we needed down here,” Brim said.
Rhodes helped establish the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Georgia, working from the conceptual state in the mid-1980s to the first Georgia National Fair in 1990. He served an important role in the fairgrounds’ early years as the point person with city council members, county commissioners and state leaders in securing the land needed for the agricenter.
Because of Rhodes’ leadership and dedication, Georgia’s youth have a facility to showcase their projects and the state’s agriculture industry can be promoted. Since the Agricenter opened in 1990, it has attracted approximately 22 million people and made a $1.5 billion economic impact. Approximately 850,000 people visit the fairgrounds and agricenter annually, giving them some exposure to agriculture.
Rhodes’ efforts were previously recognized in 2016 when the fairgrounds’ Beef and Dairy Arena at the Georgia was named the “Foster Rhodes Beef and Dairy Arena.”
“Professionally and personally, I have the utmost regard for Foster. He is an outstanding member of the Georgia agricultural community and is highly respected by his peers,” said Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition and a former Extension county agent. “I know Foster to be a strong Christian family man and I admire his integrity and honesty. There is no one more dedicated to and supportive of Georgia agriculture. He always goes beyond the norm to make a positive impact on his community and state.”
This year, recipients of CAES Alumni Awards of Excellence include Charlie Broussard, Ken Foster, Jaime Hinsdale Foster and Andrea B. Simao. CAES Young Alumni Achievement awards will be presented to Sara Dunn, Tamlin Hall and Franklin West.
Register to attend the banquet at www.caes.uga.edu/alumni or call Suzanne Griffeth, director of alumni engagement, at 706-542-3390.
Sponsors of the event include the UGA CAES Alumni Association, UGA CAES and Farm Credit Associations of Georgia.
For a list of past inductees into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame, see https://t.uga.edu/5dV.
Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.