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Interview with Abit Massey, September 19, 2011

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:21 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia politics, sponsored by Young Harris College and the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Abit Massey

00:01:09 - Early life and undergraduate education

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Abit, before we get into what I hope will be a very in--enlightening discussion of Georgia politics and Georgia's top agricultural crop, let's first talk about Abit Massey.

Segment Synopsis: Massey discusses moving from Greenville, South Carolina to Athens, Georgia with his family as a youth due to his family's wishes that the children attend UGA.

Keywords: Agriculture; Athens, Georgia; Barbeques; Charlie Trippi; Farming; Football; Frank Sinkwich; Georgia Bulldogs; Great depression; Herman Talmadge; Jackson County, Georgia; Milledgeville, Georgia; Political rallies; Produce; Public works; Small business; State Normal School; Student Voters of Georgia; The Coed Restaurant; WPA; Works Progress Administration; World War II

00:06:37 - Law school and early work in state government

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Partial Transcript: Well, you got a bachelor's degree in public administration and then went to law school.

Segment Synopsis: Massey describes his enrollments in the law schools at UGA and Emory, from which he received his J.D., and his simultaneous employments for Atlanta political figures, including James C. Davis.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Bill drafting; Braselton County; Capitol building; Charlie Whirl; DeKalb County, Georgia; Dixie; Emory University; Frank Edwards; Fulton County, Georgia; Gene Cook Jr.; General Assembly; Georgia Attorney General; Georgia Court of Appeals; J.D.; James C. Davis; Law school; Legislative drafting; Rockdale County, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; Young Harris College

00:12:42 - Law firm / Work on the Gillis and Vandiver campaigns

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Partial Transcript: But then after law school, Roscoe Lowery, who was Chief Judge on the Georgia Board of Workers Compensation...

Segment Synopsis: Massey tells of opening a law office in Decatur before being appointed solicitor of the DeKalb County Court and hired as a campaign manager for Jim L. Gillis and Ernest Vandiver.

Keywords: Bryce Holcomb; DeKalb County Prosecutor; Ernest Vandiver; Georgia Soft Drink Association; Jaycees; Jim Ellis; Jim Gillis; John Carey; Jule Wimberly Felton; Kayanne Shoeffner Massey; Marvin Griffin; Massey & Lowery; Military service; Ricahrd Bell; Roscoe Lowery; State Highway Department; Student Government Association; Tift County, Georgia

00:15:54 - Head of the Department of Commerce

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Partial Transcript: Governor Vandiver asked you to head up the Department of Commerce during his administration.

Segment Synopsis: Massey recalls his time as head of the Department of Commerce and tells an anecdote of a fistfight during a meeting over a speed trap in Ludowici, Georgia.

Keywords: AAA; Automobile Association of America; Bill Hardiman; Department of Economic Development; Department of Industry and Trade; Highway 301 Association; Johnston Station; Lester Maddox; Long County, Georgia; Ralph Dawson; Roadworks; Sylvania, Georgia; Tourism; Traffic; Trave; Walstein Parker; Welcome station

00:22:11 - Courting Miss Georgia

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Partial Transcript: I'll tell you one very fascinating experience you had: you had an opportunity to meet Miss Georgia.

Segment Synopsis: Massey describes meeting his future wife, Kayann, who then held the title of Miss Georgia, and reminisces about their first date at Niagara Falls.

Keywords: Agnes Scott College; Brenau University; Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Georgia; Ford Harrington; Gainesville, Georgia; Georgia Jaycees; Georgia peaches; Harold Hughes; Jaycee Club; Johnny Grant; Kayanne Shoeffner; MENSA; Miss Atlanta; Niagara Falls; Perry, Georgia

00:25:55 - Move to Gainsville / Start with the Georgia Poultry Federation

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about coming to Gainesville.

Segment Synopsis: Massey describes how he transitioned from working in politics to working as a lobbyist for the poultry industry.

Keywords: Elected office; Legal counsel; Lieutenant Governor; Politics; Poultry production; Private sector

00:27:55 - Massey's children Lewis and Camille

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you mentioned your children Lewis and Camille; tell us about them.

Segment Synopsis: Massey talks about his son, Lewis, former Georgia Secretary of State and a former candidate for Governor of Georgia, and his daughter, Camille, a vice president for the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

Keywords: AIDS; CUNY; Camille Massey; Campaign manager; City University of New York; Finance; Gary Andrews; Georgia Board of Regents; Human rights; Joe Frank Harris; Joe Kennedy; Joe Turner; Judge Robert Benham; Law school; Lewis Massey; Little League; New York, New York; Parks and Recreation; Pierre Howard; Public interest; Roy Barnes; Run-off; Softball; Student leadership; Syracuse University; Telecommunications; UGA; University of Georgia; Warner Rogers; Wayne Garner; Zell Miller

00:36:58 - The birth of the poultry industry

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Abit, of course, poultry has been your profession and you are a walking encyclopedia on poultry.

Segment Synopsis: Massey summarizes the emergence of poultry as agriculture, describing how what was once considered a byproduct of egg production is now a $13 billion per year industry.

Keywords: Cattle; Chicken feet; Chicken production; China; Commercial farming; Egg production; Export; Farms; Feed store; Hong Kong; Jesse Jewell; Labor; Livestock; Quality control; World War II

00:42:09 - The electrification of rural Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Seems to me that the diversity of the chicken industry throughout the rural areas of the state has been abetted by rural electrification.

Segment Synopsis: Massey discusses the impact of electrification programs on growing the state's poultry industry, beginning with a visit by FDR to Warm Springs.

Keywords: Barnsville, Georgia; EMC; Electric membership cooperatives; Energy project; Eugene Talmadge; Evaporative cooling; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Gene Talmadge; Gordon College; Hyde Park, New York; Joe Frank Harris; Lamar County, Georgia; New Deal; North Georgia; Ocilla, Georgia; Oil companies; Paul Rogers; REA; Rural Electrification Administration; Tunnel ventilation; Walter George

00:47:07 - Importance of exporting to the poultry industry

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Partial Transcript: Let's go back for a minute to, uh, exports...

Segment Synopsis: Massey speaks about issues the industry has encountered at various points exporting to Russia and Europe, and recalls a meeting with President Kennedy which led to a trip to meet with Germany's Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Keywords: Air France Flight 007; Atlanta Art Association; Common market; Cuba; D.W. Brooks; Dean Rusk; Europe; John F. Kennedy; Joseph Tydings; Levies; Maryland; Mississippi; Ross Barnett; Russia; Secretary of State; USA Poultry and Egg Export Council; White House

00:51:24 - Scientific developments in the poultry industry

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned quality; let's talk a little bit about the laboratory over at the University of Georgia that does scientific research on poultry production.

Segment Synopsis: Massey speaks about the impact of the collaborate work of the various poultry, agricultural, and animal research facilities at the University of Georgia.

Keywords: Department of Agricultural Engineering; Department of Avian Medicine; Department of Poultry Science; Extension program; Genetics; Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; Laboratory research; Master of Avian Medicine; Nutrition; Scientific research; University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

00:54:10 - Economic concerns facing Georgia's poultry industry

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Partial Transcript: Listen, uh, while we were talking about exports, I failed to ask you what effect NAFTA--the North America Free Trade Act--has had on the poultry industry.

Segment Synopsis: Massey opines that while NAFTA's impact on the poultry industry has been minimal, the federal government's drive to mandate ethanol usage in gasoline has driven production costs significantly up.

00:59:38 - Corporate and family poultry producers in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: I just want to talk--let's just talk a minute just for general knowledge and information about some of the main players in the poultry industry here...

Segment Synopsis: Massey names some of the companies and farms important to the state's poultry industry.

01:01:40 - Lobbying on behalf of the Georgia Poultry Federation

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Partial Transcript: Abit, when you became president of the poultry federation, you became its spokesman not only to the public but to other business organizations and to the State Legislature.

Segment Synopsis: Massey describes his work promotion poultry interests at the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate, specifically mentioning work to obtain a sales tax exemption on fuel and a waiver of feed inspection fees.

Keywords: All Holloway; Appropriations committee; Bill Barnett; Georgia Institute of Technology; Georgia Tech; Hall County, Georgia; Hugh Gillis; Joe Kennedy; Joe McWilson; Joint projects; Lobbyist; PDRC; Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center; Propane; Robotics; Sales tax; State legislature; Terrell Starr; Tom Allgood; Tom Murphy; Ways and Means Committee; Zell Miller

01:08:42 - Notable members of the Georgia House / Support of political campaigns

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Partial Transcript: Abit, you were there 48 years--you met a lot of legislators.

Segment Synopsis: Massey names some of the politicians who stood out to him during his years as a lobbyist and discusses how the Georgia Poultry Federation chooses to support, but not officially endorse, candidates to office.

Keywords: Bill Lee; Endorsement; General Assembly; Incumbent; Legislation; Paul Broun Sr.; Rules Committee; Terrell Starr

01:11:50 - Life after semi-retirement

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Partial Transcript: Well, uh, you're supposed to have retired; what's ahead?

Segment Synopsis: Massey tells of some of his activities outside of his poultry work, describing his children and grandchildren, including a grandson who's an actor on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.

Keywords: Acting; Adoption; Appalachian Mountains; China; Family; First Baptist Church; Iron Man; Miss Norcross; Tennis; Triathlete; UCLA; University of California Los Angeles

01:14:36 - UGA alumni activities / Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well, I want to thank you for being our guest today, Abit.

Segment Synopsis: Abit briefly mentions some of his service to UGA alumni groups and the interview concludes.

Keywords: Abraham Baldwin; North campus; San Dawson; UGA Alumni Association