Governor Deal to keynote GAC Annual Meeting on Feb 6.
Volume 27, No. 3   Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc.   January 26, 2018
The Capitol halls are quiet today as lawmakers wrapped up the 10th day of session on Thursday and headed home. Now that the budget discussions are underway and committees are starting to meet, the session is starting to hit its stride. New bills are being introduced each day and we are keeping a close watch on those of interest to agribusiness. Legislation impacting the Georgia Ag Tax Exemption (GATE) program and rural development initiatives should surface in the next week or two, so stay tuned. 
We’ve provided a quick summary of action for you below, but there is much more to come in the weeks ahead. Capitol activities will resume on Monday for legislative day 11 and they will stay in session through Thursday as the committee process quickens and bills start to move. Lawmakers released a schedule for the remainder of the session, setting February 28 as "crossover day" and the final day of session, called "Sine Die," will take place March 29 . Click here for the full schedule.
Space is filling up fast for our GAC Annual Meeting on February 6! Be sure to get your tickets before they sell out. We are honored to have Governor Nathan Deal be our keynote speaker for the evening.

Please join us as he discusses issues important to our industry and reflects on his tenure as Georgia's 82nd Governor. The GAC Membership Supper & Annual Meeting will be held the evening of Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at The American Hotel (a DoubleTree by Hilton) in downtown Atlanta . Tickets are just $100. We will have a reception starting at 6:00 p.m. with supper being served at 6:30 p.m. This NEW venue is a beautifully remodeled facility and will serve as the host hotel. Call 404-688-8600 to see if hotel rooms are still available or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830 and ask for Maggie Wooten if you need assistance.
The GAC State Legislative Breakfast is set for Wednesday, February 7th at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta. Food lines open at 7:15 a.m. and we will conclude by 8:30 a.m.
2018 Legislative Breakfast Speakers:
  • Speaker of the House David Ralston (Confirmed)
  • Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black (Confirmed)
  • Secretary of State Brian Kemp (Confirmed)
  • Senate Agriculture Chairman John Wilkinson (Confirmed)
  • House Agriculture Chairman Tom McCall (Confirmed)
  • Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (Invited)
  • Attorney General Chris Carr (Invited)
  If you would like to order tickets or co-host the legislative breakfast with a table sponsorship, please click here or call 706-336-6830. Thank you!
Thanks for your responses last week. Here are the top two poll results for:
"Since President Trump has been in office one year, how would you summarize the overall impact of his administration?"

Pleased: He’s true to his “Make America Great Again” slogan. 47%
Encouraged: He has made good changes, but several missteps along the way. 41%
Discouraged: He has not done what I hoped. 6%
Disappointed: America is going backward, not forward. 6%
In the state budget, which program area would you most like to see additional funding?
Please answer one:
Repairs and improvements to state farmers markets.
Improvements to poultry lab emergency response services.
Purchase of equipment to help fight forest fires.
Control of whiteflies in vegetable and row crops.
The state budget process continued to build momentum as the various House Appropriations subcommittees met with state agencies to review the Governor’s proposal and get input on any additional funds that may be needed. During the Department of Agriculture budget discussion, Commissioner Gary Black expressed the need for $1M to provide needed equipment in the GDA Tifton laboratory. In addition, Dr. Louise Zavala , Executive Director of the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network, requested funding to add needed refrigeration facilities and make repairs at the Georgia Poultry Lab in Gainesville. 
SB 257 by Senator Bill Heath (Bremen) deals with better protection for farm operations from false animal cruelty and husbandry charges. We are aware of instances where the public felt an animal was not being treated properly and law enforcement took action without having a full understanding of the situation. This bill would require law enforcement officials to consult a Department of Agriculture veterinarian or an approved veterinarian before charges are filed in an alleged case of animal cruelty. This gives extra protection to all farms and businesses that deal with livestock and other animals. This bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. Click here to access our comments about the bill on Southeast AgNet.
Last week, Sen. John Wilkinson (Toccoa) reintroduced SB 330 which is the " Green Agricultural Education Act" . This bill will incorporate and implement a pilot ag curriculum over six schools in the 2019 - 2020 school years. The agricultural education program provided in this state shall be based on the nationally recognized three-component model of school based agricultural education: daily instruction in an organized classroom and lab environment; hands-on, real-world learning opportunities through the supervised agriculture experience (SAE) program; and leadership and learning opportunities through participation in FFA.
On Tuesday, Rep. Sam Watson (Moultrie) introduced HB 723 to create an exemption from state sales tax on equipment for nonprofit organizations that offer certain veterinary diagnostic and disease monitoring services, which is primarily needed in the poultry industry. This would be a big benefit to the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network that provides a variety of essential services for poultry producers.
SB 332 would create a hunter mentor program administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Submitted by Senate Natural Resources and Environment Chairman Tyler Harper (Ocilla) this bill would develop a program where children and teenagers will have additional opportunities to learn responsible hunting practices and gun safety.

Also, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams updated lawmakers this week on the progress made by DNR to expand hunting and fishing opportunities in the state. Since the new license fee structure started in July, the state has invested these dollars to increase water fowl impoundments, developed more dove fields, expanded food plot acreage, and opened over 300 miles of hunting roads in wildlife management areas. This was DNR’s commitment when the state acted to boost the state license fees and it is paying off.
House Rep. Bubber Epps (Dry Branch) submitted HB 695 to create a forestry license plate that will generate funding for the Georgia Forestry Foundation ’s education initiatives. These special license plates will have the words "#1 in Forestry" displayed across the bottom. It will be discussed in the Committee on Motor Vehicles next week.
Committee hearings and full session debates for the House and Senate are available online and able to be streamed live. Recordings of meetings are also available.
Follow these links to access the daily schedule of:
 ABAC announced earlier this month that Dr. Mark J. Kistler is the new Dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources . Kistler was previously with the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University. There are an estimated 58,000 available jobs in agriculture and only 35,000 graduates to fill these roles. ABAC graduates play an important role in keeping agriculture strong. Read the full press release here .
The Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow club has created a “speaker series” to offer ABAC students the opportunity to further engage with the campus, the community, and agriculturally-affiliated organizations and individuals throughout the state and the nation. Commissioner Gary Black spoke with the students on Tuesday to share with them the Department of Agriculture's activities in the industry. We were proud to sponsor this event and former GAC Board Chairman Darvin Eason was able to attend. Special thanks to ABAC student Laura Lee Williams (pictured in the center of the photo below) for leading this initiative. If you would like to sponsor an upcoming event, please contact ABAC's Deidre Martin at or 229-391-4907
Special thanks to our 2018 Star Sponsors listed below. We welcome having GAC member companies be a part of this initiative. Click here for a full list of our 2017 Star Sponsors.
Please call our office at 706-336-6830 or   click here for details . Thank you!
Bay Branch Farms Inc.
Cochran Oil Mill & Ginnery
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co.
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Embry Transport Inc.
Georgia Tobacco Commission
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Hattaway Farms Partnership
Hazel Creek Cider, Inc. / Yearwood Farms, Inc.
Israel Farm Supply Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.
Lyle Farms, LLC
Pineland Plantation
Pitts Insurance Agency Inc.
Shellman Carriers, LLC
Vidalia Onion Business Council
The 2018 Georgia Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting was on January 21 - 23, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia. GAC was proud to be an exhibitor at this event to promote responsible water conservation and environmental stewardship along with leaders like Garland Thompson, Commissioner Gary Black, and Woody Snell.
We would like to offer our congratulations to GAC member Hays LTI for being recognized as the 2017 Mitchell County Agribusiness of the Year ! Their business is first-class...and the entire Hays family is even better! So proud of these outstanding people and the way they serve the agribusiness industry.
The  UGA CAES 2018 Ag Forecast Seminar  dates have been set. GAC is proud to be a partner in promoting these informative events that give a forecast for the agricultural climate. Follow the links to register.

  • Tuesday, January 30: Lyons (Toombs County Ag Center) Click Here.
  • Thursday, February 1: Bainbridge (Decatur County Ag Center) Click Here.
  • Friday, February 2: Tifton (UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center) Click Here.
  • Monday, February 5: Macon (GA Farm Bureau) Click Here.
  • Tuesday, February 6: Cartersville (Clarence Brown Conference Center) Click Here.
  • Wednesday, February 7: Athens (The Classic Center) Click Here.
* The Georgia Cotton Commission’s 11th Annual Meeting will take place on January 31 at 8:00 a.m. Come learn about the latest updates from industry, policy, and research experts and find out who wins the 2017 Georgia Quality Cotton Awards.  Registration is free and available here . Please visit the Georgia Cotton Commission for more information.
* Forestry Day at the Capitol will be February 13. It provides an opportunity to network with legislators, public officials and decision makers while catching up Georgia Forestry Association friends, fellow forestry professionals, and landowners. Register here .
* FFA Day at the Capitol will take place on Tuesday, February 20. It starts off with a breakfast and last the whole day while students are able to come and interact with their legislators.
* The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will host a free compliance assistance seminar for Georgia agricultural employers and farm labor contractors to promote compliance with the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the labor provisions of the H-2A temporary worker program. The session will take place Thursday, February 22 . Click here to register.
* Southwest Georgia Farm Credit is encouraging all high school seniors looking to go to college to pursue a career in an agriculture-related field or to benefit rural Georgia to apply for their scholarship program. Application deadline is February 28 . Click here to apply .
* Save the date for "An Evening for ABAC" on March 2 at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. This annual scholarship benefit helps students pursue their dreams in the various ag fields. Click here to RSVP .
* The 2018 Georgia Agritourism Association’s Annual Conference will be held March 5 and 6. This is a great opportunity for people to tour Georgia Agritourism operations, network, and learn about the latest in effective marketing strategies, on-farm activities that work, and hear first-hand testimonials from agritourism operators about their success. Call 706-845-9085 or click here for more info and to register.
* We hope you will make plans to join us at the Georgia FFA Foundation Blue & Gold Gala slated for Friday, March 9 at the St. Regis Buckhead hotel in Atlanta. Click here for details.
This information is intended for members of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. No part of this document shall be copied, edited, or redistributed in any form without express written consent from the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc.
Georgia Agribusiness Council | 706-336-6830 | WWW.GA-AGRIBUSINESS.ORG