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Published June 02, 2010, 08:50 AM

Longest-serving Georgia ag chief ready for retirement

ATLANTA — Georgia politicians come and go, but for more than four decades Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin has remained.

By: Ray Henry, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Georgia politicians come and go, but for more than four decades Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin has remained.

That will change come January, when Irvin steps down from state office. The 80-year-old says a combination of age and the effects of Parkinson’s disease have made it necessary to move on.

Irvin is the longest-serving agriculture commissioner in Georgia and among the longest-serving statewide officials in the nation.

Supporters say Irvin’s biggest accomplishments have been supporting campaigns to eradicate the boll weevil that once ate entire cotton fields, controlling livestock diseases and serving as a tireless salesman for Georgia agriculture.

But his tenure was marred in 2009 by a serious outbreak of salmonella poisoning traced to a peanut processing plant in Blakely, Ga.

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