Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
MAY 2017

The U.S. Senate finally confirmed former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the country’s 31st Agriculture Secretary. While we have enjoyed his leadership on our board of directors the past four years and his many contributions to this organization, we welcome his new title and his continued support for agriculture in Georgia and now across the nation. He has already had an impact on shaping NAFTA negotiations and discussion. You can even follow him on Twitter at @SecretarySonny. Congratulations, Secretary Perdue!

We appreciate the excellent engagement in our polls during the legislative session. With the national attention on the performance of President Trump, here's our latest member poll. Let us know what you think: 
What grade would you give President Trump on his first 100 days in office?
We want to thank you for keeping current during the legislative session by viewing our weekly newsletter, Inside Ag. We were very pleased with the way things turned out this past session under the Gold Dome. We are proud to represent agribusiness interests during the session and throughout the year. Here is a brief update of the ag-related legislation that went through the General Assembly this session:
HB 238  provides three very important changes to Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) and Forest Land Protection Act (FLPA) programs. It was signed into law on April 17 by Governor Deal. 1. Updates the definition of “family farm entity” that now includes ‘entities created by the merger of two or more entities which independently qualify as a family owned farm entity.’ 2. The solar panel provision allows installation on CUVA with just a one-year tax penalty for breach of the area where the solar panels are installed. 3. Provides a carve out for farm worker housing if it is provided to workers at no charge.
HB 290 by GAC member Rep. Sam Watson (Moultrie), will clarify to many Georgia county tax offices that farm equipment leased to family farm operations is NOT subject to property tax. This will save cash and headaches for the farms and farm equipment dealers that have been caught up in confusion created by county tax officials. It awaits Governor Deal's approval.
There is a lot to like about the FY 2018 budget. Click here to see a brief video by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England (Auburn) covering issues important to agriculture and forestry. The budget was signed into law on May 1.
* HB 50 provides needed liability protections for livestock interests.  The protections will help encourage farmers and farm facilities to help educate future generations on livestock management with less threat of a lawsuit should someone become injured. Only a posted hazard sign is required to receive the protections. It is ready to be signed by the Governor.
* The "Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act," will provide a $100 million fund through a partnership of private equity groups and state tax credits to stimulate economic and job growth in rural counties. It awaits the Governor's signature.
* HB 437 by GAC member Robert Dickey (Musella), re-establishes the Agriculture Education Advisory Commission. It will continue to evaluate and provide reports on the conditions, needs, issues, and challenges facing our state's ag education programs. It was signed into law in late April.
* HR 389  creates the House Rural Development Council that will work to address problems facing rural Georgia. Click here to see those appointed to serve on this Council. The first of these meetings is set to take place May 22 and 23 in Tifton.
The Senate introduced SR 392 that would create the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee which is a similar initiative.  
We were honored to attend and speak at Châtel Farms regarding  the $20M investment by GAC member F PL Food, LLC. Other speakers included CEO Francios Leger, Ag Commissioner Gary Black, and Will Bentley of the Georgia Cattlemen's Association. This operation will help promote the cattle industry in Georgia as well as make this operation one of the biggest in the southeast. Grow beef, grow jobs! Great opportunities for cattle producers.
Momentum continues to grow with our AgriHealth of Georgia medical insurance program as it now serves 18 employers and covers over 2000 lives. Snellings Walters designed this medical captive to drive healthcare costs down for GAC members and, as data continues to roll in, AgriHealth of Georgia is working very well. Snellings Walters has designed a partially self-funded healthcare plan  that utilizes the national Blue Cross Blue Shield network of doctors. Two platforms have been carefully crafted for our GAC members: 
*The first platform is designed to serve GAC members with as few as 10 employees enrolled on their healthcare plan.
* The second serves GAC members with 40 employees or more enrolled in their healthcare plan.

The following brief video includes comments by Ben Copeland, Jr. of Super Sod regarding his experience in the program. Your review and consideration of this medical insurance solution is very important to us. It is our goal to help you advance your business - and you have the Council’s commitment that this effort will provide a meaningful, first-class solution for your healthcare insurance needs. Please call the Georgia Agribusiness Council office at 706-336-6830 if you have any questions or contact Tara Byrd with Snellings Walters at 770-508-3032 for health insurance specifics about the program. We look forward to serving you.

With over 1,050 members, we are grateful for the support as we continue to grow to record heights. Your dedication and trust in GAC and our member services is what allows us to be successful advocates for this industry.

We are excited to announce that we have added 42 new members in 2017! If you or someone you know is interested in joining, please visit our website at or call the office at 706/336-6830. Thank you!
Here is a list of those that joined in March & April:

GAC is proud to support and advocate for the Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption (GATE) program. The sales tax exemptions it provides to growers and processors are key for our industry. For nearly a year, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has been surveying retailers about GATE card use – this will continue over the next year. Increased education and enforcement has helped stop those seeking to abuse the program and these efforts. Improved compliance and education helped prevent changes to the GATE program at the Capitol this year. We must continue to monitor against abuse to show lawmakers that changes are not needed. Utilizing the GATE Guidance document, sharing with others, and reporting violators are the best ways to ensure this program benefits our industry for years to come. Thank you for helping agriculture protect GATE.

A.M. Bickley Inc.
Barrington Dairies
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
Choice Wood Inc.
Clay Co. & Associates
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
 Davis M. Love III and Robin B. Love 
Docia Farms
Doerun Gin Co. Inc.
Doug Hopkins
Dollar Farm Products Co. Inc. 
Embry Farm Services
GA Ag. Commodity Commission for Tobacco
GA Association of Professional Ag. Consultants
Georgia Peach Council
Georgia Poultry Federation
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Georgia Watermelon Association
Greg Sikes Farm, LLC
Hattaway Farms Partnerships
Holifield Farms Inc.
Israel Farm Supply Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.

Leger & Son, Inc.
Majors Electric & Mechanical Co., Inc.
Oak Hill Farm
Pike Creek Turf, Inc.
Pitts Insurance Agency Inc.

Plantation Seed Conditioners, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Saddle Creek Farm
Swainsboro Stockyard
TriEst Ag Group, Inc.
Vidalia Onion Business Council
Special thanks to our
2017 Star Sponsors!
We are pleased to announce that the support for our Georgia AgPAC continues to grow thanks to you, our members! These donations are dedicated to help fund campaigns for state elected leaders that have proven to have a strong voice for agriculture and support agribusiness initiatives. A very special thanks to all of our members who have already donated.

Please call our office at 706-336-6830 or  click here to download the donation form  to be a partner in this important effort. Thank you!
We look forward to joining a diverse group with the Southern Crop Production Association in DC this week as we meet with Members of the Georgia delegation on issues impacting the crop protection industry.  These are primarily focused on EPA implementation of regulatory policies, food labeling, product stewardship, foreign trade policies, etc. The group will also meet with new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and some of his staff involved in pesticide policy. We welcome this new leadership and opportunity to forge a strong relationship between EPA and the crop protection industry. Issues such as product registration and re-registration, worker protection standards, water policy, and the Endangered Species Act are just a few of the issues important to our industry. 
For nearly 25 years, GAC has provided our  AgriTrust of Georgia  workers compensation insurance program to a very diverse agribusiness industry . This successful, self-insured program has returned over $5,925,000 in dividends to date. Created by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, AgriTrust of Georgia provides a stable, affordable source of workers’ compensation insurance to the agribusiness industry. We encourage you to consider this proven program for your workers’ compensation insurance needs. For more information about AgriTrust of Georgia, please visit or call 678-753-0016.
GAC has supported this program since its inception and it is a proven winner for these UGA students and the agriculture industry. This program helps students interested in politics and agricultural issues gain great experience as they serve Georgia Congressional leadership in Washington, DC over the summer. Special thanks to UGA CAES for coordinating this program. We also congratulate the outstanding students selected for this opportunity. 
2017 - 2018 DIRECTORY
We are excited to have our new directory at the printer and coming out early this summer! A special thank you to all our members and the 2017 - 2018 Directory Advertisers!
We were pleased to attend the 89th annual Georgia FFA Convention in April. It was our honor to present the 2017 "Star in Agribusiness" award to  Rhine Brady of White County. This award is sponsored by the GAC Foundation. We congratulate all of the FFA award winners as well as the outstanding Georgia Department of Education leaders and teachers that do such a great job engaging these students in agricultural career fields.
* The Fertilizer Institute will be launching their newly designed advocacy website With direct constituent interactions being the biggest influence on lawmakers, this website will be a resource for you to engage your elected officials and help be the voice of the fertilizer and agriculture industries.
* The 70th Georgia Feed and Grain Association Summer Convention will be held June 22-25 at the Amelia Island Plantation. Click here to register for the event. Be sure to book your room before May 27 in order to get the block rate. 
* Registration is now live for the Georgia Forestry Association's 2017 Annual Conference and Forestry Expo on July 21-23 in Jekyll Island. Click here for more info.
* The Georgia Plant Food Educational Society will be having their Summer meeting July 23rd - 26th at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Register today!

The Georgia 4-H Gala will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at the Loews Hotel in midtown Atlanta. GAC is pleased to be a table sponsor. The evening is a chance to celebrate the 4-H family while giving back to support enhanced programming for youth around the state. Click here for sponsor information.

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