Defending the use and safety of U.S. agricultural products and bolstering industry innovation is more important now than ever. For decades, an influential Southern association has been a leading voice and now looks to double-down on those efforts, along with new leadership changes.
Bucky Kennedy has been with the Southern Crop Production Association for 15 years, most recently as its state affairs director. Kennedy is now transitioning to take over the association's day-to-day operations as the new executive vice president, stepping in to replace Jeff Cassady who has held the post for several years. Cassady will retire Jan. 31, 2021. Cassady took over the executive duties from Colonel Ed Duskin, the well-known face of the association for more than four decades before retiring in 2016 at the age of 87.
Kennedy has substantial shoes to fill, he says, but the association's foundation and previous leadership provides good footing.
"SCPA has been a leading voice for Southern agriculture at the state and federal level since its inception and I want to continue that. I have a deep connection and respect for SCPA, and I wanted to give back to the association because of what it has given to me. I have been able to advocate for our industry and agriculture, and I want to continue to do that," Kennedy, 44, told Southeast Farm Press.
Founded in 1954 by the Southeastern pesticides industry, SCPA includes more than 60 member companies in 15 Southern states, from Texas and Oklahoma to Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. The association addresses industry issues, including crop protection, policy, biotechnology, seed treatments, fertilizer, adjuvants and biostimulants, and others as needed.
"I want our members to be able to have that quick interaction with their elected officials who make decisions that affect our industry’s ability to operate. Our industry has done a great job explaining the benefits of our products, and I want SCPA to continue explaining it and expand on it as well," he says.
It's a challenge. Crop production tools important to U.S. growers and agricultural industry have overcome many regulatory and registration hurdles over the decades, but over the last few years volatile regulatory headwinds build domestically and globally.
"We have to continue to have the confidence to stand up and speak for our industry and provide the facts to the general public, too," he said. "We should be willing to step in and continue to reassure the public that there are many reasons why we have the safest, most abundant and most inexpensive food supply today. There is a strong and robust registration process for our member’s products, as it should be, and the testing that is done to bring products to market is second to none."
Before moving to SCPA, Kennedy worked in the Georgia Farm Bureau legislative department for three years. He grew up on the family farm outside of Sparta, Ga., where he, his father and brother have a cow-calf operation and grow hay and pine trees. He earned his BS in political science from Georgia College and State University in 1999. He lives now in Wetumpka, Ala., with his wife Crystal and daughters, Bailey and Elliott. When not doing SCPA business, he likes to coach his daughters’ softball teams, play golf, and enjoy Alabama football.