ROCHELLE -- Incumbent state Rep. Newt Hudson said he is seeking re-election to continue working on projects to strengthen the economy and provide job opportunities for District 131.

A Democrat who has represented the district which includes the counties of Ben Hill, Irwin, Wilcox and a portion of Tift, Hudson said his 20 years in office puts him in a position to benefit his constituents.

"It's cooperation with the leadership and the other members of the House," said Hudson. "You learn early that you have to learn to compromise."

Hudson serves as chairman of the industry committee and is on both the appropriations and the rules committees. He sees challenges ahead dealing with the state budget when revenues have been reduced.

"It will be interesting to see what we can do with what we have," said Hudson.

A retired Wilcox County extension agent, Hudson continues to farm. He said he is currently gathering his pecan crop.

Hudson said agriculture, a crucial component of the district's economy, is less than healthy. He is encouraged to see new ideas, such as the plan for Value Added Agriculture, coming on the horizon.

"There is a new idea, and the governor and the leadership just last week got involved with Value Added Agriculture," said Hudson. "Other states are doing it."

Hudson said the idea behind the program is for farmers to organize and form co-ops. The co-operatives require an investment from farmers, and the state will get involved to help farmers help themselves.

"Any ag product, like peanuts, just taking the hulls off of them, have added value to them," said Hudson. "We are just getting involved."

Oil from soybeans, sunflowers and peanuts may also be a money-maker with the program.

"There is an idea that we need to go into the oil business and retain ownership to the grocery shelf," said Hudson.

Hudson believes new ideas for agriculture are necessary because prices farmers are getting for their crops don't cover production costs.

"All the time I have been a farmer, I had other sources of income," said Hudson. "In rural Georgia, somehow we are going to have to balance with more industrial-type jobs to offset the loss."

Hudson said it is important to offer job opportunities in South Georgia.

"In the past, we have sent someone off to college and they never came back to South Georgia," said Hudson. "They go to metro areas and centers where there are opportunities all over Georgia. I think that is the biggest challenge we all have."

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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