Sen. Tommie Williams during the 2016 session of the Legislature. AJC file.
Photo: Brant Sanderlin
Photo: Brant Sanderlin

Sonny Perdue names ex-Senate colleague to an agriculture post in Rome

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that he has appointed a former Georgia Senate colleague to an overseas post.

Former Senate president pro tem Tommie Williams, a Republican from Lyons, will serve as minister-counselor for agriculture in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.

Rome, Italy. Not Rome, Ga.

Not bad for a fellow who started as an onion farmer. But Williams has always been an eclectic type. He has a pine straw business down in south Georgia, was one of the first to experiment with growing olives on his 30-acre farm, and operates a well-regarded restaurant in the area.

Williams was first elected to the state Senate in 1998 as a Republican. At the time, Perdue was already an eight-year veteran of the chamber, but had just switched to the Republican party.

While there, Williams became one of the more moderate GOP voices when it came to the topics of illegal immigration and guns. He left the Legislature in 2016.

Exactly what is Williams’ new gig? Here’s what the U.S. Mission does, according to its website:

The U.S. Mission in Rome serves as a link between the U.S. Government and the Rome-based international organizations. These include the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

With staff representing the Departments of State, Agriculture, and the Agency for International Development, the U.S. Mission specifically works to advance UN efforts in the areas of emergency food assistance, food safety standards, agriculture, fisheries, forests, and financing for rural development.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.