Governor Deal to keynote GAC Annual Meeting on Feb 6.
Volume 27, No. 2   Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc.   January 19, 2018
The State Capitol was much quieter this week as lawmakers serving on the Appropriations Committees focused on the state budget. Winter weather continues to keep everyone guessing about the legislative schedule as the latest round of snow and bitter cold moved across the metro Atlanta area mid-week. So far everything has remained on task as today marks the 6th legislative day of the session and, even with the cancellation of budget hearings Wednesday due to snow, the state budget process is out of the gate. 
We appreciate Southeast AgNet helping share our updates on activities at the State Capitol. Click here to access the brief report.
Lawmakers will head home this afternoon and return Monday through Thursday . We look for a fresh load of new bills to surface during the coming week and the committees will also fire their engines as the session will really start to gain traction…unlike these Atlanta area drivers.
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. 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. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, House Speaker David Ralston, Ag Commissioner Gary Black, Attorney General Chris Carr, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, 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!
Thanks for your responses last week. Here are the poll results for:
"Which issue is most important to you this 2018 legislative session?"

1. Protect rights needed for irrigation and water use in agriculture. 42%
2. Revitalize the population and economies of rural Georgia. 27%
3. Advance broadband internet service throughout rural Georgia. 21%
4. Enhancing the integrity of the GATE program. 10%
Since President Trump has been in office one year, how would you summarize the overall impact of his administration?
Please choose one:
Pleased: He’s true to his “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Encouraged: He has made good changes, but several missteps along the way.
Discouraged: He has not done what I hoped.
Disappointed: America is going backward, not forward.
The state budget process moved forward full throttle this week with the Joint House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings where Governor Deal and state agency leaders spelled out their budget vision and desires. GAC member and House Appropriations Chairman Terry England (Auburn) , along with Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill (Reidsville) led these discussions but all lawmakers on the committee participated and will have even larger roles to play as the subcommittee meetings begin in the weeks ahead.
Governor Deal provided the first presentation on Tuesday and was understandably proud of the fiscal and economic gains made as he enters his final year as Governor. While the $26 billion FY 2019 budget proposal is the largest ever submitted, Governor Deal noted that the per capita spending is on par with FY 2006 numbers. It was also noted that the number of state employees has dropped by 12,000 in the past nine years, even as the state population has grown by 7.1% since 2011. 

Here's a look at how the FY 2019 funds are distributed.
Georgia's state fiscal economist, Dr. Ken Heaghney , provided lawmakers with an economic update that was as optimistic as we have ever heard – especially from an economist. The 2017 actual revenue growth of 4.7% far outpaced the 3.1% estimate set a year ago. We are now halfway through FY 2018 and growth sits at 4.1%...there’s a lot to like about that! The strong economy is expected to continue in FY 2019 with projected tax revenue growth of 3.7%. With the economy strong, job growth solid, spending on the rise, low inflation, and the new federal tax reform in place, the economic outlook over the next 18 months is expected to be very good according to Dr. Heaghney.
As the long road begins for the budget process, here are a few items of interest that surfaced this week:

* Forestry Commission to receive $3M for heavy equipment purchases to combat wildfires and $480k for district office improvements.

FY 2019 Budget Highlights
*UGA Ag Experiment Station addition of $223k for whitefly management research.
*Dept of Agriculture to receive $2.4M in bonds for facility repairs.
*Forestry Commission to receive $2.03M for various construction projects and equipment.
*Poultry Diagnostic Research Center received $108k for additional funding of positions and two field service vet positions.
*$1.65M in bond funds for renovation and construction at FFA Camp John Hope and the FFA/FCCLA Center.
In the final days of the 2017 legislative session, Senator Bill Heath (Bremen) introduced SB 257 which deals with better protecting 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. We could see it surface in the Senate Ag Committee when they meet Thursday.
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:
It’s old news that the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week on the Florida vs. Georgia water battle. Since that time, there has been a flood of wishful thinking by the media and our downstream neighbors that the Court Justices showed favoritism to the over-fished and under-planned oyster region of the Apalachicola Bay region. You’ll recall Special Master Ralph Lancaster issued a report in Georgia’s favor last February .

If you can invest an hour of time, we encourage you to click here to access an audio recording of the argument in the U.S. Supreme Court on January 8. A ruling by the court is expected in May or June. Stay tuned.
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
This is the final day for letters to be submitted on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regarding the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) issue and the Hours of Service (HOS) 150-mile air radius. Click here to see the letter we provided to the administration on Monday . Livestock, vegetable, turfgrass and a variety of other commodity growers are all rightfully expressing concern for the hardships the ELD regulations will create. It also poses more burdens for businesses operating in rural areas. As you know, rural America has received a great deal of attention by President Trump’s administration, especially USDA. The question of what impacts there will be to the Hours of Service (HOS) 150-mile air radius also looms 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 today, January 19th . We encourage you to submit a letter today. Feel free to reference our letter to assist in the effort. Click here for the Federal Register information on this issue and to submit comments.
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 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.
* We hope you will join the Georgia Green Industry Association at WINTERGREEN , January 24 - 26, 2018 at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. Attendee information can be found here.
* The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will host two, free compliance assistance seminars 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 first session will take place next week on Tuesday, January 23 and the second will take place Thursday, February 22. Click here to register.
* 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 .
* 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.
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