Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members

July 2016
Georgia’s two Agriculture Committee Chairmen, Sen. John Wilkinson and Rep. Tom McCall will be hosting the Ag Issues Summit in Perry, GA at the National Fairgrounds & Agricenter on  August 9, 2016  at 10:00 AM.

The meeting is free, but registration is required. To register please contact Leigh Goff at (404) 656-5099 – or Taylor Hartshorn at 404-463-5257 –

Topics that will be covered include GATE compliance and enforcement, w ater resource planning, an agricultural and forestry survey and more. Numerous state legislators, Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and Georgia's new EPD Director Rick Dunn plan to attend. This is a great opportunity to hear about current policy issues and give input. The Georgia Agribusiness Council is proud to be a lunch sponsor of this event along with the Georgia Urban Ag Council, Georgia Poultry Federation, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Forestry Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. We hope to see you there.
Thank you for such a great start to Harvest Celebration ticket sales! All companies that purchased their Harvest Celebration tickets by July 1st  were entered into a drawing for one of 12 great prizes. Winners of the Harvest Celebration Early Bird drawing were recently selected. Congratulations to these winners: One Night’s Stay At Renaissance Waverly Hotel – Sunbelt Ag Expo; Field of Dreams Ticket Book – Georgia Pork Producers, Georgia Young Farmers Association and Kroger; Autographed Jeff Foxworthy Memorabilia – Columbia Farms, Georgia Development Authority, Godfrey’s Feed, Lee Bonecutter, Newton Crouch Inc., Pennington Seed, UGA Research Foundation and Wells Fargo.  

With all anniversary, platinum and gold sponsorship tables sold out, reserved tables of ten and individual tickets are all that remain. Over 600 tickets have already been sold, so be sure to buy your tickets soon to secure reserved, priority seating! Still need to purchase tickets? Tickets can be purchased online or by contacting Anna Strickland at or 706-336-6830. 

GAC staff and board of directors were thrilled to host CAES Dean Dr. Sam Pardue as he delivered a presentation at the Council’s summer meeting on June 15.  Dr. Pardue updated us on the current climate of CAES, covering topics such as student admissions, faculty and staff achievements, the FY 2016 budget and opportunities for growth in the coming years. The dean stressed the importance of industry professionals recruiting prospective students at a young age and encouraging them to seek opportunities at CAES. Perhaps one of the most dynamic aspects of CAES continues to be the real-world opportunities that are available to CAES students, such as internships. GAC’s Y.I.E.L.D. (Young Interns Exploring Leadership Development) program supports that mission by connecting students with summer internship opportunities with GAC’s member companies. We as a Council and as an industry are fortunate to work with Dr. Pardue, and we look forward to seeing CAES thrive under his leadership.
The newly enacted U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations on overtime, pushed by the Obama Administration, goes into effect December 1, 2016. Ironically, the DOL says the rules are meant to create jobs, but they are viewed as a job killer.  The one-size-fits-all FLSA approach is a loser for the rural economy. The new minimum annual salary of $47,476 may be more appropriate in urban areas, but is unsupportable in rural areas. The overtime rules represent another cost that disproportionately affects small business and the cumulative effects could be too much for some businesses to withstand. We believe the overtime rule should also consider all areas of total compensation, which includes bonuses, commissions, comp time, housing, vehicle use, and other such factors.

Several members of the Georgia Delegation, including Senator Isakson and Senator Perdue, have spoken against the rule. With the rural communities already fighting worker shortages this will only add more of a burden.   Click here for further information about the Department of Labor Overtime Rule.
The EPA released a draft report on their ecological risk assessment on atrazine, the commonly used corn herbicide. EPA stated they have discovered unknown risks to aquatic and land plants and animals, however it is important to note that farmers have used atrazine safely for over a half-century (it has been registered with the EPA since 1958).  In fact, there have been 7,000 studies conducted on atrazine and all have found it to be safe to use.  If this report proceeds unchanged, there is a chance that the EPA could ban the use of atrazine, which would cause a loss of 30-60 dollars an acre for farmers, especially for those in the Midwest. It would also cost ag chem companies millions of dollars to develop an alternative. In addition to atrazine only products, there are over 60 products that have atrazine as a component in pre-mixed products.
Currently the EPA is suggesting a 2/3 reduction in use, leaving 8oz per acre.  Many growers and agriculture organizations are contesting EPA's report and submitting public comments. GAC will be submitting comments and we hope you will as well.  The public comment period ends October 4, 2016.

What you can do:
1.     Go to for direct access to the atrazine docket (EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0266)
2.     Under the box “Atrazine Registration Review” at top of page, click on blue “ Comments Now ” box (to the right of “Draft Ecological Risk Assessments: Atrazine, Simazine, and Propazine Registration Review”)
3.     Type or paste your comments into box (max 5,000 words) and upload any documents, then press “ Continue ” button at bottom of page on right
4.     On preview page, 1) review your comments, 2) check box “I read and understand the statement above,” and 3) press “Submit comment.”

GAC staff and board members look forward to meeting with the Georgia Delegation during our annual legislative gathering in DC July 6-7.  While there are many issues on the table, labeling for GMO food products will be a primary focus.  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Senator Pat Roberts and ranking democratic member Senator Debbie Stabenow have reached agreement on the voluntary labeling of GMO food products by use of a scannable QRF Code and provides a very narrow definition of genetic engineering. This federal initiative would override any state GMO label laws, such as the misguided Vermont law which went into effect July 1, 2016. Other issues include EPA & OSHA regulatory overreachs, H-2A & H-2B guest worker programs, and the new overtime rules.  While in DC, GAC will also be meeting with all seven of the UGA Agriculture Fellows. GAC has always been supportive of allowing students the opportunity to experience agriculture policy on a national level and always look forward to engaging with them. 

The FAA has released a final rule for the use of small-unmanned aerial vehicles. UAVs have been a commonly discussed topic in agriculture and the technology was evolving faster than the laws could adjust. With UAVs becoming more affordable and available to researchers, farmers, and the general public, the FAA was working to develop rules and regulations for these aircraft. Under the newly released rule, a UAV operator must hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate, maintain a visual line of sight with the UAV, the UAV must weigh less than 55lbs, and operated only during daylight hours. These are just a few of the requirements in the FAA Rule, Click Here For FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (PART 107).  This rule will allow researchers better advance technology to make UAV’s more tailored for the agricultural market.  The advances in UAV technology could prove to be a great asset to agriculture, but utilizing this technology to boost profitability is still in process.

Over 600 Georgia Agribusiness Council members utilize our AgriTrust of Georgia worker’s compensation insurance program. The Council created AgriTrust of Georgia in 1992 and it serves agribusinesses from a wide range of sectors. Workplace inspections, safety seminars and member resource materials are all readily available to those in the program. A great safety record has helped return over $5.1 million in dividends to qualified members. 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 Eddie Kinnard at 678-753-0016.

The 2016 Regional Workers' Compensation Seminars sponsored by AgriTrust will be conducted during August. These seminars are planned especially for AgriTrust members and their independent insurance agents. Dates and locations are listed below:
  • Aug. 4: Thomasville- The Plaza Restaurant
  • Aug. 4: Albany- Doublegate Country Club
  • Aug. 5: Tifton- UGA Tifton Conference Center
  • Aug. 11: Lyons- Railroad Depot
  • Aug. 11: Statesboro- Bulloch Fertilizer Co.
  • Aug. 17: Perry- GA National Fairgrounds & Agricenter
  • Aug. 18: Dawsonville- United Community Bank
  • Aug. 25: Forest Park- GA Grown Welcome Center
  • Aug. 25: Athens- Holiday Inn
Boston Gin Co.
Clay Co. and Associates 
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co. Inc.
C.M Tanner Grocery Co. Inc
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Doerun Gin Co. Inc.
Doug Hopkins
Georgia 4-H Foundation
GA Agricultural Commodity for Tabacco
Georgia/Florida Soybean Assoc.
H.T. McClendon Co.
Hardy Farms
IsoAge Technologies L.L.C.
Israel Farm Supply Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.

Lauri Jo's Southern Style Canning
Leger & Son, Inc.
LHR Farms, Inc.
Majors Electric & Mechanical Co., Inc.
Mercier Orchards
Mobley Gin
Mobley Greenhouse Inc.
Newcastle Trucking, LLC
Northeast Georgia Livestock. LLC
Patrick Farms
Pike Creek Turf, Inc.
Pineland Plantation
Plantation Seed Conditioners, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Quality Feedstuff, Inc.
Russell Landscape Contractors, LLC
Segura's Harvesting
Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association

Southern Crop Production Assn.
Southern Equipment Dealers Association
Sylvania Peanut Co. Inc.
Swainsboro Stockyard
The J.L. Morgan Co, Inc.
Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 or  click here for details . Thank you!

* During the Georgia DNR board meeting June 29, Richard "Rick" Dunn was confirmed by the DNR Board of Directors after being appointed by Governor Deal as the new Director of the Environmental Protection Division. We enjoyed meeting with Director Dunn and Assistant Director Lauren Curry recently and we look forward to working with these new leaders.

* GAC attended a recent joint USDA and Coastal Solar Symposium about the opportunities available for solar use in agriculture.  On the agenda were representatives from Coastal Solar, USDA, AgSouth Farm Credit, Ameris Bank, and Sonnen Batterie.  It was a great event and provided important updates on advances and affordability in the evolving solar industry.

* GAC President Bryan Tolar delivered the legislative update at the Georgia Feed & Grain Association’s 69th Annual Convention on June 24. GAC enjoys a strong working relationship with GFGA, both in the political arena and otherwise. Congrats to Rick Adle and the GFGA board of directors on another excellent gathering of industry leaders. 

Georgia / Alabama Seed Association Convention will be held July 10-11, 2016 at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons Island Contact Billy Skaggs, GSA Exec. Secretary, with any questions at or 770-519-7124.

* The Georgia Plant Food Educational Society will be having their 2016 Summer Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, July 24 – 27, 2016. Click here for more information. 

* The Georgia Forestry Association Annual Conference & Forestry Expo will be held at the Jekyll Island Convention Center in Jekyll Island, GA, on July 23-25, 2016. Click here for details.

*Georgia 4-H’s 74th annual State Congress will be held July 26 – July 29 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, Georgia 4-H Congress includes project competition, special events recognition, scholarship recognition and volunteer recognition. It is a one of the premiere events of Georgia 4-H and recognizes the work of hundreds of 4-H work. GAC is excited to once again sponsor the Egg Preparation Contest project area. Anna Strickland will attend the event on GAC’s behalf as a project judge and to congratulate the winner of the Egg Prep Contest.

* The Georgia Cattleman's Association will be held July 29-30 at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. 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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