Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
MAY 2021
Governor Kemp joined agriculture groups from around the state last week at the GFB corporate office to sign a slate of ag and forestry related bills that passed through the legislature during session this year. Pictured above, Governor Kemp signs GAC priority bill HB 498 by Rep. Sam Watson of Moultrie. The bill will allow preferential ad valorem tax exemptions on equipment for farms that would individually qualify as family farms if they form a partnership with non-family members who would also qualify on their own. This bill reflects the strength of GAC's grassroots connection with our membership as the impetus of the bill came from an issue being faced by a GAC board member in South Georgia. We appreciate the strong efforts of Rep. Watson and others on HB 498 and the additional impactful pieces of legislation that were signed into law by Governor Kemp.

"There's no more generational business than a family farm. Marty and I know how important small business is to Georgia's economy, and that's what Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Agribusiness Council are fighting for in the Capitol every day." Governor Kemp said during a bill signing at the Farm Bureau in Macon
May 10, 2021
We all know that Georgians have an incredible work ethic and want to work. As we continue to recover from this pandemic-induced recession, we are hearing from a growing chorus of small business owners, agricultural leaders, managers in retail, manufacturing and nearly every industry sector across the country concerned about the lack of available workforce.

In 2020, Georgia saw a record 40% annual increase in the number of economic development projects announced. Our economy has quickly rebounded thanks to a balanced pandemic strategy coupled with record-high consumer spending, including everything from cars to houses. Retailers cannot keep certain items in stock and factory orders are piling up. Because they cannot find labor, businesses are starting to turn down orders, raise prices, and some are even considering closing permanently. Many restaurants are only offering drive-through, pick-up service, not because of COVID, but because they cannot find enough workers to support full-scale operations.

Our job creators are doing their part. They are raising wages, offering incentives, competitive benefits, shift flexibility and work-from-home options when possible. In addition, job fairs are popping up on every corner. The truth is that there has never been a better time to enter the workforce than today. Employers are offering more to entry level employees than ever before.

Here, over 231,000 Georgians are on unemployment, but over the last 90 days, Georgia businesses have reported at least 406,000 job openings. Getting those men and women connected to employers and back to work is the first step. Second, we must address long term labor shortages in the agriculture, hospitality and high-tech sectors while helping our students prepare for a very different job market when they graduate. Compared to previous years for the same time, the current number of job postings is nearly double, proving that our conditions are unprecedented and require creative solutions.

In the short-term, we suggest that the state of Georgia:
  1. Suspend additional federal unemployment benefits and direct available funds to a statewide job signing bonus program or other back-to-work initiative that helps match jobs to job seekers. This will incentivize Georgians’ return-to-work efforts.
  2. Require unemployed Georgians to actively seek employment while drawing benefits.
  3. Redirect federal funds to support our technical colleges and universities in rapid re-training and certification programs that upskill our labor force for new economy jobs. Of course, we should allow these Georgians to continue collecting unemployment benefits as they re-train on a ramp-down timeline.
  4. Eliminate the outdated Federal Self Certification Declaration checklist for unemployment insurance and return to a robust qualification process.
  5. Utilize existing federal funds to improve the appeals process and address childcare benefit needs. This will clear out the backlogs in our Department of Labor so that more workers can exit the system and find meaningful work to support their families.

In the long-term, Georgia needs to aggressively pursue coordinated efforts that improve the talent pipeline, for example:
  1. Build on the momentum of Governor Kemp’s needs-based scholarships to help more first-generation, low-income students find career success.
  2. Develop a federal bipartisan solution to our existing H-1B, H-2A and H-2B worker visa programs that ensure Georgia companies and agricultural producers have the talent needed to meet growing demand.
  3. Support the work of the Georgia House of Representatives Maximizing Global Talent Study Committee which will examine current regulatory burdens as well as opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity.
  4. Finally, prepare our students to compete in the new economy by improving and coordinating our talent pipeline through a review of Georgia’s education delivery system that focuses on entrepreneurial training, upskilling, life-long learning, STEM and evolving 21st century skills.

The statewide business community is ready and willing to partner with government leaders, educators and every man and woman who wants to work. Undoubtedly, this will require one of the largest concerted efforts in our nation’s history as we work to overcome our setbacks and simultaneously plan for a more resilient future together. Let’s get to work, Georgia.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce
American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia
Georgia Agribusiness Council
Georgia Association of Convenience Stores
Georgia Association of Manufacturers
Georgia Chemistry Council
Georgia Construction Aggregate Association
Georgia Farm Bureau
Georgia Forestry Association
Georgia Highway Contractors Association
Georgia Mining Association
Georgia Paper & Forest Products Association
Georgia Poultry Federation
Georgia Transportation Alliance
GAC President Will Bentley co-hosted a legislative recap panel with GFVGA's Chris Butts earlier this week that was available to members of each organization and other industry members. The special guests were Chairman Robert Dickey, Chairman Sam Watson, and Bob Redding of the Redding Firm. The group dove into several issues on both the State and Federal levels and provided thoughtful insights into how several pieces of legislation came about and what it took to get them passed through the General Assembly. Our organization is proud of the work we do with members of the legislature as well as the partnerships we have with commodity groups in Georgia. We work to ensure that the concerns of their growers are heard at the Capitol each year.
GAC has continued to contact our congressional delegation and federal agencies as our members are seeing increased issues with the situation at Georgia and other ports around the country. Chinese exporters continue to pay shippers premiums to bring back empty containers instead of loading up with U.S. commodities for export. The delays are piling up for Georgia agribusinesses desperate to get their exports, including crop inputs and commodities, to Asian buyers.

The Federal Maritime Commission says it’s investigating the situation, but GAC along with other frustrated agribusiness groups and food companies are turning to the U.S. Department of Transportation for relief. National ag groups have estimated that the situation has resulted in the loss of nearly $1.5 billion to the agriculture industry.
MAY 11, 2021
Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp signed an executive order to temporarily suspend the gas tax in Georgia in light of the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack. The Governor also announced that Georgia is increasing the weight limits for trucks transporting fuel, providing more supply for stations as they receive deliveries. The order further prohibits price gouging by bad actors looking to exploit the situation.

“My office has been in close contact with company and industry officials since we first learned of the Colonial cyber attack over the weekend," said Governor Kemp. "Unfortunately, extensive media coverage has caused people to panic which has resulted in higher gas prices. We are taking action to relieve some of the cost burden from Georgians as Colonial recovers by suspending fuel taxes, increasing the weight limit for supply trucks, and prohibiting price gouging.

"We expect these measures to be temporary as Colonial plans to be fully up and running later this week. There is no need to rush to the gas station to fill up every tank you have and hoard gas. With the measures we have taken today, I am hopeful we can get more supply to stations and get through to this weekend when we hope Colonial will return to normal."

Read the executive order here.
Apr 28, 2021 | News
The 2021 Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day is scheduled for July 22, and farmers are invited to join us to learn practical information from the region’s top agricultural scientists about the newest technologies that farmers can use to improve their operations.

The Sunbelt team looks forward to welcoming farmers and professionals in the ag industry to a Driving Tour of the Darrell Williams Research Farm. Due to the success of the changed format in 2020, this year visitors will once again enjoy Field Day from the comfort of their own vehicle as they learn from university researchers and vendors.

The half-day event will take place at the 600-acre Darrell Williams Research Farm, located at the Expo show site at Spence Field in Moultrie, Ga. Registration is free for anyone who works in agriculture. Visitors should arrive thru Gate 2 anytime between 8:00 am and 9:00 am to begin the tour. Directional signs will direct those in attendance to a red tent where they will register, receive a welcome bag including snacks, register for CCA credits, and begin the tour. They will never have to step out of their vehicle for this process. Once registered, visitors will then drive-thru the tour path while viewing pre-recorded segments featuring university researchers and company vendors. In addition, farmers can choose to pull aside at stops that particularly spark their interest to further investigate plots and visit one-on-one with the researchers.

“We have the unique ability to work with university and corporate researchers on our Darrell Williams Research Farm, where we continue to conduct cotton, peanut, corn, soybean and forage research — all aimed at improving the farmer’s bottom line. We look at the latest seed varieties, crop protection methods, soil fertility, irrigation and precision ag technology,” says Chip Blalock, Sunbelt Ag Expo Executive Director.

“Each year, our mission is to provide a place where research can be done to benefit all row crop and forage farmers — especially those who might not have the resources or land to just go out and try a new variety or technology on a hunch,” says Cody Mitchell, Sunbelt Ag Expo Farm Manager. “This year is no different.”

“We strive to have the best-looking farm around. We want the Expo farm to showcase what a farm should look like,” he says.

“We work hard all year to ensure that we make a lifelong impression on the guests who come to see us during Sunbelt Ag Expo in October. When they visit here, we want it to be an eye-opening experience that’s worth their time.”

There are a few tips visitors should keep in mind to enjoy a successful tour. Bring a friend to experience the event with you. Be sure to have a smart phone or tablet with you to view the research videos during the tour. Videos will be accessible using the Official Sunbelt Ag Expo app, web site, or YouTube channel. Connect your device to your vehicle Bluetooth before you arrive. Plan to chat with researchers and vendors at plots that specifically interest you. Prepare to explore and learn on the research farm, all while enjoying your comfortable vehicle!

UGA researchers, Extension Specialists, and ag chemical representatives conduct numerous trials at the Sunbelt farm for all major southern agronomic crops. To view more specific Field Day details, download the Sunbelt Ag Expo app or visit www.sunbeltexpo.com.
In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, the American Farm Bureau Federation launched a comprehensive, easy-to-use online directory of resources for farmers, ranchers, and their families who are experiencing stress and mental health challenges.

The directory, which is on the Farm State of Mind website at farmstateofmind.org, features listings for crisis hotlines and support lines, counseling services, training opportunities, podcasts, videos, published articles and other resources in every U.S. state and Puerto Rico. Listings for crisis support, counseling and behavioral health resources that are available nationwide are also included.

“For far too long, farmers and ranchers have been trying to cope with increasing levels of stress on their own,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Our Farm State of Mind campaign is encouraging conversations about stress and mental health in farming and ranching communities. It is so important to spread the word that no one has to go at it alone.”
Agri-Pulse reports that most of the iconic trading pits at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where traders would buy and sell corn, wheat, soybean and other future contracts with elaborate hand gestures, will close permanently, according to a CME Group announcement.

The “open outcry” pits were closed last year in March because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but the company has decided they will not be reopened.

Contracts for corn, wheat, and other commodities will now only be traded electronically.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Wednesday the availability of $92.2 million in competitive grant funding under the 2018 Farm Bill’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).

USDA launched this initiative in March to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations. These grants support the development, coordination and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises and value-added agricultural products.

USDA will award $76.9 million to the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and $15.3 million to Regional Food System Partnerships to fund public-private partnerships that build and strengthen viability and resilience of local or regional food economies.
The 2021 GAC Star Sponsor program has had great result so far this year but you can still get in on it! This program helps with events during the legislative session along with building support for a variety of projects and initiatives that cannot take place without the added participation. Star Sponsors are reflected in each of our newsletters, as posted on this page, along with the weekly legislative reports throughout each session of the Georgia General Assembly, monthly newsletters, and more. Click here for 2021 Star Sponsor registration information and email Jill Hansard or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830. Thank you!
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Click here for more information. This link will take your members directly to our website to learn more about the Safe & Sound Online Training Management tool.
We're here to help you!
We look forward to helping you discover how we can help you gain knowledge in the industry through events, workshops, and webinars. Visit our website at ugaurbanag.com to begin your journey through all that we have to offer you! It's all just a click or two away! Subscribe and update your preferences today!

Do you have any special product promotions? Home delivery? Curbside pickup? Let us help get the word out. Complete this form (https://bit.ly/ag-connect) and we’ll promote it to the public through our website (https://t.uga.edu/5TB) and the social media accounts of our extensive network of county Extension offices throughout the state.
Bagwell Insurance Group, Inc.
Beaver Creek Plantation
Brooksco Dairy, LLC
Camp Family Farms LLC
Carroll EMC
DeWitt Produce Co. Inc.
Doerun Gin Co. Inc.
Georgia Cotton Commission
Georgia Development Authority
Georgia Power
Georgia Young Farmers Association
Hattaway Farms Partnership
International Forest Company, Inc.
Jones Cork, LLP
Kelley Manufacturing Co.
Market Grocery Company
Mercier Orchards
Mixon Seed Services Inc.
Mobley Greenhouses, Inc.
SafEnvirons, Inc.
Striplings General Store - Bogart GA
Superior Pine Products Co.
The Turfgrass Group, Inc.
USA Poultry & Egg Export Council
WDairy LLC

Ag Technologies LLC dba Vantage Southeast 
AgSouth Services, Inc.
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
C. M. Tanner Grocery Co. Inc.
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co.
Cotton Partners LLC
Cromartie Agricultural Chemicals Inc.
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Drexel Chemical Co.
Durden Banking Co. Inc.
Embry Farm Service/ Embry Transport
Emanuel Peanut & Grain LLC
Esparza Enterprises, Inc.
Farmer's Best Fertilizer
G & H Harvesting Inc.
Garcia Family Harvesting, Inc.
GA Assoc. of County Agricultural Agents
Georgia Christmas Tree Association
Georgia Food Bank Association Inc.
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Georgia Vocational Ag Teacher Association
Greene County Fertilizer Co.
Greg Leger Farms, LLC
Greg Sikes Farm, LLC
H. T. McLendon Co.
Hazel Creek Cider, Inc. / Yearwood Farms, Inc.
Hulsey Farm Service
Israel Farm Supply, Inc.
Joe Boddiford Farms
L. R. Land & Cattle Company, Inc.
Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC
Lenox Peanut Company
Longbridge Peanut Co.
McCorkle Nurseries, Inc.
McIntyre Golf Development
Moultrie Colquitt County Development Authority 
Northeast Georgia Livestock
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Patrick Family Farms
Peebles Timber, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc
Sconyers Gin & Warehouse Co.
South Georgia Produce, Inc.
Southern AGCOM Inc.
Southern Seed Company, Inc.
Swainsboro Stockyard
Sweetbay Farm, LLC
Sylvania Peanut Co. Inc.
The Satsuma Company, LLC
Three Brothers Trucking, LLC
Vidalia Onion Business Council
West Georgia Processing, Inc.

Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!
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