Governor Deal to keynote GAC Annual Meeting on Feb 6.
Volume 27, No. 1   Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc.   January 12, 2018
We are very pleased to announce that Governor Nathan Deal will be our keynote speaker for the GAC Annual Meeting on February 6!

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. We have a block of rooms reserved at a special GAC rate. Call 404-688-8600 or click here to make online hotel reservations  by January 16th. Please 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. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston, Ag Commissioner Gary Black, House Ag Chairman Tom McCall and Senate Ag Chairman John Wilkinson have been invited to speak at this event.  If you would like to order tickets or co-host the legislative breakfast with a table sponsorship, please click the button above or call 706-336-6830. Thank you!
Your Georgia General Assembly is back in action! Council staff looks forward to bringing our members these weekly  Inside Agriculture  reports each Friday. We ask that you use it as a resource to engage with legislators on issues impacting your agribusiness.

The State Capitol is quiet today as lawmakers headed home Thursday afternoon, having completed four of the 40-day legislative session. The week started off Sunday night with the traditional "Wild Hog Supper" to benefit the Georgia Food Bank Association. Governor Deal along with Commissioner Gary Black welcomed the crowd that gathers to fellowship and feast before each annual session. GAC is proud to be among the sponsors of this outstanding tradition.

Some big news of the week was finalizing the House and Senate committee lists. We are very pleased that Rep. Tom McCall (Elberton) will continue as the House Ag Committee Chairman and Sen. John Wilkinson (Toccoa) remains the Senate Ag Committee Chairman. A noteworthy change this year is in the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee where Sen. Tyler Harper (Ocilla) has been named chairman. In addition, Sen. Butch Miller (Gainesville ) was unanimously selected as President Pro Tempore of the Senate - a key role in Senate leadership. A full list of committee assignments can be found below.
During his final State of the State Address on Thursday, Governor Deal walked through the many accomplishments that stemmed from his tenure as he rolled out a vision for the road ahead. In examining the economic and jobs gains over the past year, he noted that 80% of the economic development growth was achieved outside of the metro Atlanta area.

Budget hearings will occupy a few days next week as lawmakers make adjustments to the current FY2018 Budget and dive into the FY2019 Budget offered by Governor Deal. We will take a closer look at the Governor's budget proposal as we hear from state leaders. Several budget changes will take shape over the next several weeks, but we understand a boost in funding for research of the whitefly infestations experienced this year will be among them. These pests caused substantial damage in the vegetable and cotton crops this summer and fall.
Which issue is most important to you this 2018 legislative session?
Enhancing the integrity of the GATE program.
Advance broadband internet service throughout rural Georgia.
Protect rights needed for irrigation and water use in agriculture.
Revitalize the population and economies of rural Georgia.
In addition to the state budgets, we'll also keep readers informed on a variety of bills of interest to agribusiness. A few of these are carry-over bills from last year, but we'll help you stay informed on what each bill covers, as well as share our perspective along the way. As always, let us know when we can be of assistance to you this legislative session.
Forest Land Protection
Last session, House Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell (Camilla) introduced HR 51 and  HB 85 . This constitutional amendment and its enabling legislation seek to update the mechanism for determining the fair market value of forest land, creating more uniform formula reimbursing counties for tax revenue losses from the FLPA program, and create a new category of taxable property for timberland. We expect to see these bills build momentum in the Senate Finance Committee later in the session.
Gate Changes on the Horizon
We anticipate GATE legislation to surface in the weeks ahead and we will work to see that any proposed changes are good for the GATE program and retailers. Last December, we reported that the Georgia Department of Audits   released their internal audit of the GATE program and how it is managed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Click here to download the 40-page final report .   In our review of their findings, we saw things that are certain to reignite conversation about changes to the law.   The need for the state to provide better communication and access between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Revenue is old news, yet it remains unresolved. In short, we need to improve the integrity of the GATE program through stronger management of who qualify. In doing so, we hope to move to a multi-year card. The $2,500 revenue threshold may to be adjust upward as well. It is also important that any fraud be eliminated, and we will keep working toward that goal. We ask GAC members to pay close attention to this issue.
Rural Initiatives
During the 2017 Session, HR 389 created the House Rural Development Council . This collection of 15 members, selected by the Speaker of the House, are tasked with looking into the problems facing rural Georgia and then they are to make recommendations on how best to address these issues. During this first year of the council, members met 18 times in 11 communities across the state and gained insight from local officials, industry leaders, and other experts to help bolster the economies of rural Georgia.
Several suggestions surfaced in response to the report filed by this Council . We anticipate seeing action taken on rural broadband, health/medical facilities, and the creation of a Rural Prosperity Center in conjunction with ABAC. Stay tuned...
Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund
HR 238  and  HB 332  by Rep. Sam Watson (Moultrie) would create the GA Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. It provides for a Constitutional Amendment that would authorize 75% of all state sales tax collected from sales of outdoor recreation equipment be dedicated to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. The funds would be used specifically for protection and preservation of conservation land and for state operated recreation facilities. Governor Deal has great interest in issue. If passed, the proposed constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot and must be approved by voters.
Tuesday, we were proud to sponsor the luncheon for the first meeting of the Rural Caucus this session. With a turnout of over 45 legislators, we were able to share a summary of the Council while stressing the importance of our industry and the network of our membership all across the state. The Rural Caucus is an important, diverse group of lawmakers that are familiar with many of the issues impacting agricultural communities. The Chairman of the Rural Caucus, Rep. Sam Watson, gave a brief overview of their mission and applauded the work of the House Rural Development Council. Co-Chairs, Rep. Terry England and Rep. Jay Powell spoke briefly about what they hope to accomplish coming up this session.
Many thanks to our 2017 Star Sponsors . We appreciate the outstanding support last year! The 2018 GAC Star Sponsor program registration is now underway. 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 2018 Star Sponsor registration information or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830. Thank you!
Throughout his presidential campaign, one of Donald Trump's main platforms was the revitalization of rural America. In attempt to "make good" on his promise, the president issued an executive order creating the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity . Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was asked to chair this task force and has traveled coast to coast listening to the people of rural America in order to address their primary issues and concerns. To learn more about this initiative, the recommendations submitted, and how you can become involved, please visit their website .
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
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
Shellman Carriers, LLC
Vidalia Onion Business Council
The federal Electronic Logging Device (ELD) issue continues to present problems for a wide swath of the ag industry. Livestock, vegetable, and a variety of other commodity growers are all rightfully expressing concern for the hardships this will create. The question of what impacts there will be to the Hours of Service (HOS) 150-mile air radius also loom large. The 150-miles is from “the source,” which we believe could be a farm, sale barn, grain elevator, or other such distribution facility. It seems that the federal regulations do not clearly define “source,” so we hope to see that clarified in a manner that does not further disadvantage the ag sector. While the ELD exemption for agriculture was extended until March 18, 2018, the comment period ends on January 19 . GAC will be submitting comments next week and we encourage others to do the same. Click here for the Federal Register information on this issue and to submit comments.
We were honored to deliver grant checks to the Dr. Joe B. Crane Classroom Grant Program winners in December . These funds are awarded to the schools that show real innovation when it comes to implementing new agriculture curriculum to their students. Teachers from all schools in Georgia (kindergarten through 12th grade), both public and private, are eligible to receive these grants. 

The quality and value of this program is outstanding, and with your support of the GAC Foundation , we will continue to assist educators in their efforts to teach young people the importance and benefits of agriculture in our state. 

This year’s Dr. Joe B. Crane Classroom Grant winners were:
JM Odom Elementary
Odom's Aquasprouts

Lee County Middle School
STEM Farm to Table

Newton College & Career Academy
 Buzzing Around Campus
Oglethorpe County Middle School
Macronutrient Test
We are very pleased to support a variety of ag education initiatives through the GAC Foundation, including our scholarships and classroom grant programs. The $1,000 William C. “Bill” Baisley “Sumpin Big” Scholarships  are offered to students studying for an agricultural career at a college in Georgia. This year we received many quality applicants from students all over the state, who ranged from High School Seniors to college students. We are pleased to announce we provided three winners for 2017 and they are: Sadie Lackey from Ellijay, Lucas Brock from Bowden, and Hamp Thomas from Summerville. They were honored by GAC Chairman Jimmy Champion and Mr. Bill Baisley during the Harvest Celebration program.  
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 Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference will be held in Savannah, GA on January 11 - 14. This is a chance to attend educational seminars and visit with vendors at the trade show. Click here to register.
* The 2018 Georgia Dairy Conference will take place in Savannah on January 15 - 17. This event will provide dairy producers and industry leaders with an invaluable opportunity to hear from top educators, industry pioneers and fellow dairymen. Click here for more info and to register.
* The 42nd annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference will be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center January 18, 2018. For more information, click here .
* The 2018 Georgia Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting is coming up soon from January 21 - 23, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia. GAC is proud to be an exhibitor at this event to promote responsible water conservation and environmental stewardship. Click here for more info.
* Georgia is hosting the Southeastern Soil Summit in Atlanta on January 21 - 22, 2018 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. This Summit will allow the FDA to give an overview of where they are with the development of Subpart F Biological Soil Amendments as well as give the produce, composting, and compost material suppliers the opportunity to provide input and discussion on what this part of the Rule needs to look like. Click here for full details and registration.
* Forestry Day at the Capitol is 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 .
* 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.
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