Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
December 2019

As we wrap up the year, GAC would like to thank our members, volunteers and industry friends who helped make the 2019 Harvest Celebration successful. We are lucky at how close knit and supportive our agricultural industry is when we all come together. We hope that each of you have a blessed Christmas season. Thank you again for another wonderful year!

The Georgia Agribusiness Council’s Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization was created to help grow funding initiatives to support agriculture education. The GAC Foundation is a proud sponsor of agriculture education through scholarships, school projects, FFA, 4-H, and several agribusiness awards programs.

This year YOU have the opportunity to show generous support to the GAC Foundation. Even the smallest of donations will make a huge impact towards enriching the lives of millions. 100% of the proceeds will be devoted to initiatives that enable the young people that represent the future of Georgia's most important industry.

Georgia House Rules Chairman Jay Powell dies

The chairman of the influential Georgia House Rules Committee, state Rep. Jay Powell, collapsed and died Monday during a retreat of legislative leaders at Brasstown Valley Resort. He was 67.

Powell , a Republican attorney from Camilla, was a powerful advocate for rural Georgia and an authority on tax policy. Before his election to the Georgia House in 2008, Powell was the mayor of Camilla and president of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Powell became chairman of the House Rules Committee last year after his predecessor, Chairman John Meadows of Calhoun,  died  last November at age 74.He served one year as the leader of the Rules Committee, which  decide s  which bills will receive final votes in the full House of Representatives. Powell was previously chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the primary tax-writing committee.

“Chairman Powell was a trusted leader and compassionate public servant whose work positively impacted countless people’s lives over the years,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “His loss is devastating to Georgia.”

Powell championed efforts to  revitalize rural areas , backing legislation to fund internet construction,  expand rural transit  and give  tax incentives  to professionals to move to small towns. He was the co-chairman of the  House Rural Development Council  in 2017 and 2018.

His efforts resulted in laws that allow local electricity cooperatives to  sell online services , permit more  small hospitals  and distribute future tax revenue for  internet lines .

“This loss touches us all and leaves a hole in our hearts and in the heart of our House family,” said House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge. “Jay Powell served with integrity and his leadership truly moved Georgia forward.”

Chairman Powell will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Mark Niesse , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The AgriTrust of Georgia Trustees have declared another dividend for qualified Fund members. This marks the twenty-ninth dividend distribution where AgriTrust has paid a dividend back to qualified Fund members. This latest dividend is for $600,000.00 in total and is payable to qualified Fund members on November 22, 2019. This dividend brings the total dividends paid by AgriTrust since inception to nearly $9,025,000.00.

The main reason dividends are possible is because of your ongoing commitment to provide and maintain a safe workplace. AgriTrust of Georgia is owned by you, the policyholder members, and these are your dollars being returned in the form of a dividend. We also acknowledge and appreciate the integral role our independent insurance agent friends have had in the continuing success of the Fund.

AgriTrust of Georgia looks forward to serving its Fund members in the future. If you are not currently a Fund member and would like more information about AgriTrust, please call the AgriTrust office at 855/753-0016.

A year after Hurricane Michael ravaged southwest Georgia, including the region’s pecan industry, farmers still are struggling as they harvest this year’s crop.

In an average year, farmers will harvest between 1,300 and 1,400 pounds of pecans per acre, but this year’s production is down by more than half that number, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells. Brian Hayes, Mitchell County Extension coordinator and Agriculture and Natural Resources agent, predicts that number will decrease significantly despite the fact that growers have harvested less than 20% of the total crop.
“We’re probably down 60% to 70% of normal production because of the hurricane,” said Hayes. “We’ll be lucky if we pick up 500 pounds per acre this year.”

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Michael ripped through Albany, Georgia, and other parts of southwest Georgia with wind speeds at approximately 115 miles per hour in October 2018. Those violent winds caused underground root breakage and significant limb damage. Pecan growers lost almost the entirety of what experts said could have been a record-breaking crop. Wells said it will likely take growers a few seasons to recover. “The trees that are left standing lost such a large percentage of limbs that there is less fruiting wood on there to produce nuts,” said Wells. “Those have to regrow for a year or two for those trees to be productive again.”

Pecan season was also hindered this year by the lack of rainfall and hot temperatures experienced in September and October. Both factors contributed to nut crops not developing properly. “As growers go to shake the crops off the trees, they’re finding some of their crop still in the shucks, which have failed to open up,” said Wells.
Many of these unopened nuts have shown an increase in premature sprouting of nuts on the tree, some embryo rot and poorly filled kernels. Embryo rot occurs when the sprouting root from the nut dies and the embryo decays.

One positive for pecan producers is that early prices have improved from last year thanks to high global demand. For example, certain varieties of Georgia pecans like 'Pawnee', 'Oconee', 'Desirable', 'Cape Fear' and 'Creek' are in high demand for Chinese New Year, which is January 25, 2020. Of those varieties, many are harvested from September through October. “The high demand from China we saw earlier is encouraging, even with the tariffs in place, because they had a strong interest this year for certain large varieties,” said Wells.

While the export market for pecans showed early promise, prices began to drop in early November after China filled the demand for Chinese New Year. Without China in the market currently, importation of pecans from Mexico, in conjunction with lower yields, has hurt domestic prices for growers.

Maria Sellers, University of Georgia | Nov 20, 2019

With the new year right around the corner, we are preparing for the 2019   GAC Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast, which will take place on February 4 & 5.  Please save the date. Registration information will be distributed to GAC members in the weeks ahead.
The GAC Annual Meeting  will take place on February 4 at  The American Hotel ,  in downtown Atlanta. We will have a reception starting at 6:00 p.m. with supper being served at 6:30 p.m. The American Hotel is also the host hotel. To receive the GAC rate, you may call (404) 688 - 8600 and ask for the Georgia Agribusiness Council block.
The GAC State Legislative Breakfast  will be held at 7:30 a.m. the next morning on February 5 at the  Georgia Railroad Freight Depot . This is a great opportunity for members to "meet and greet" with their state legislators and hear issues important to our industry. A shuttle from The American Hotel will be provided.
USDA announces second round of MFP payments

On Nov. 15, the USDA announced the second portion of 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage from trade retaliation by foreign nations. Producers of MFP-eligible commodities will now be eligible to receive 25% of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50% they have already received from the 2019 MFP.

MFP for 2019 is authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The program is providing $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers.

Additionally, CCC Charter Act authority is being used to implement a $1.4 billion Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP) through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation such as fruits, vegetables, some processed foods, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and milk for distribution by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to food banks, schools, and other outlets serving low-income individuals.

Finally, the CCC has used its Charter Act authority for $100 million to be issued through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) to assist in developing new export markets on behalf of producers.

MFP signup at local FSA offices will run through Dec. 6.

Payments will be made by the FSA under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat.

MFP assistance for these non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019.
Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of these crops are planted in 2019. A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings. County payment rates range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on the impact of trade retaliation in that county.

Dairy producers who were in business as of June 1, 2019, will receive a per hundredweight payment on Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) production history, and hog producers will receive a payment based on the number of live hogs owned on a day selected by the producer between April 1 and May 15, 2019.

MFP payments will also be made to producers of almonds, cranberries, cultivated ginseng, fresh grapes, fresh sweet cherries, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Each specialty crop will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut bearing plants, or in the case of ginseng, based on harvested acres in 2019.

Acreage of non-specialty crops and cover crops had to be planted by Aug. 1, 2019, to be considered eligible for MFP payments.
Per-acre non-specialty crop county payment rates, specialty crop payment rates, and livestock payment rates are all currently available at

This is the second of up to three rounds of MFP payments. The third portion will be evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. If conditions warrant, the third round will be announced in January 2020.

Payment limitations apply. For more information on the MFP, visit or contact your local FSA office, which can be found at

Georgia Farm Bureau

The UGA CAES 2020 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. For more information  CLICK HERE  or follow the links to register.

Dates and Locations:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 21: Macon - Georgia Farm Bureau Building
  • Thursday, Jan. 23: Gainesville - Jaemor Farms
  • Tuesday Jan. 28: Lyons - Toombs County Agri-Center
  • Thursday, Jan. 30: Bainbridge - Decatur County Agricultural Center
  • Friday, Jan. 31: Tifton - Tifton Campus Conference Center
Information about the 2020 Star Sponsorship program will be going out this month, keep your eye out for it. We look forward to 2020!
ASMARK INSTITUTE -   2020 Emergency Response Guidebook 

DOT has announced the new 2020 version of the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) will be available in the Spring. The 2020 version will replace the existing 2016 version.

In anticipation of their release, the Asmark Institute has pre-ordered a substantial volume of 2020 ERG Guidebooks. 
Because of this pre-order, we are able to offer a special "group" price to state association members while our supply lasts. They will ship as soon as the government releases the final version.

All pre-orders must be received by April 3, 2020 to receive the special pricing of $1.90 each (plus freight & tax). Please click here to pre-order today while supplies last!
Barrington Dairy, LLC
Berrien Peanut Co.
Bill Hembree & Associates / Nationwide
Boddiford Farm Services Inc.
Coffee County Gin Co. Inc.
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co. Inc.
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Docia Farms Ptn.
Emanuel Peanut & Grain
Embry Farm Services
GA Agricultural Commodity for Tobacco
Georgia Christmas Tree Association
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Holder Ag Consulting
Israel Farm Supply, Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.
Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC
Nut Tree Pecan Nursery
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Patrick Family Farms, LLC
Pineland Plantation
Quality Feedstuffs, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Redmond's Shiloh Farms, Inc.
Sconyers Gin & Warehouse Co.
Shiloh Farms, Inc.
South Georgia Produce Inc.
Southern Seed Co.
Swainsboro Stockyard
The Dairy Alliance, Inc.
Turner County Stockyard, Inc.
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
Vidalia Onion Business Council
Walter J. Turner Farms
West Georgia Processing, Inc.
Wilkes County Stockyard
Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!

Numerically indexed and color-coded, the DOT Emergency Response Guidebook helps emergency responders find vital information fast. It's also a great tool to aid in emergency preparedness, planning and training.

DOT requires hazardous materials shipments be accompanied by emergency response information (49 CFR 172.602). The 2020 ERG can help you meet this requirement. A copy should be placed in each vehicle that transports a DOT hazardous material.
The  Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference  is the LARGEST educational conference and trade show in the southeastern United States that unites growers, vendors and suppliers. The 2020 SE Regional Conference will be held  January 9-12, 2020 in beautiful Savannah, GA! Attendee registration is NOW OPEN !
The 44th Annual Peanut Farm Show and Conference will be held January 16th at the UGA Tifton Conference Center. More than 1,400 farmers are expected to attend the 44th annual event to see more than 100 exhibits in the peanut industry.- University of Georgia Peanut Production Seminars and the industry wide sponsored Peanut Seed Seminar.- The one-day show includes awards ceremony and door prizes for farmers.
For more info CLICK HERE
The 2020 Georgia Dairy Conference  will take place in Savannah on January 21 - 23 . 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  69th Annual Georgia Plant Food Educational Society, Inc. Winter Business Meeting & Trade Show  will be  January 14-15, 2020 . 2020 is the 9th year that the Winter Meeting and Trade Show will be held at the University of Georgia Conference Center in Tifton, GA. The 2020 program will include agronomic and industry updates as well as addressing pressing issues facing Georgia Agriculture.  CLICK HERE  for more 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