Jon Huffmaster, who retires at the end of January 2022, has had numerous roles in his 40-year career with Georgia Farm Bureau: field representative, lobbyist and corporate secretary/chief administrative officer. At times he’s performed other duties, like proofreader, ag teacher and protocol arbiter, to name a few.
Whatever the task, he did it in the name of serving the state’s farmers.
“Farm Bureau was a good fit for me from the beginning. I have been involved in agriculture all my life. Growing up, the vast majority of all my work experience was farm work,” Huffmaster said. “I knew for a fact – I never doubted it – that Farm Bureau was accomplishing great things for farmers, and to be a part of that is what kept me at Farm Bureau.”
He grew up on his family’s farm in south Fulton County where the Huffmasters raised hogs, cattle, corn, soybeans and hay. A prominent memory from his youth is of his father, Hall, expertly plowing the family garden with a mule, which he kept until Jon left for college.
Huffmaster started at GFB in 1982 as the field representative in the organization's current 10th District and switched to GFB's 5th District in 1986. In 2001, he became GFB’s Legislative Department director, a position he held until October 2015 when he was promoted to corporate secretary and chief administrative officer.
“Jon not only has years of outstanding service to the Georgia Farm Bureau community but has provided strategic leadership through the important role of building relationships in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and has continued to provide valuable counsel to the GFB Board and staff through complex times,” said GFB President Tom McCall.
During his time as legislative director, GFB led the charge to defend farmers’ sales tax exemptions on farm inputs. In 2012 the state legislature maintained those exemptions and expanded them under the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) program, leading to enormous savings for the state’s farmers.
“The state tax reform overhaul that resulted in the GATE program was a great achievement for us,” Huffmaster said. “At that time, there was a very real possibility that agriculture sales tax exemptions were going to be lost because of dropping state revenue. We worked very hard to explain why the exemption was needed, and we had some great volunteers who spoke at the various meetings in favor of retaining the exemptions for agriculture inputs.”
Huffmaster thinks the need for this sort of advocacy, the reason GFB was started in 1937, will continue.
Jon and Beverly, his wife of 39 years, live in Taylor County close to their children: Jon Davis, his wife, Kayla, and their three children; and daughter Rebekah Huffmaster Gay, her husband, Kevin, and their son.
Huffmaster said he plans to remain in Taylor County, help on the farm and spend time with his grandchildren.