Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members

June 2016
Thank you for a great response to our Early Bird ticket announcement last month! Over 500 tickets have been purchased to Harvest Celebration on November 18, 2016 at the  Cobb Galleria Centre  in Atlanta, GA. This will be an evening to remember as we celebrate Georgia’s top industry and GAC’s 50th Anniversary in style! The GAC staff and board are excited to announce that all anniversary, platinum and gold table sponsorships are completely sold out. Great seats at reserved tables of ten and individual tickets are still available. 

Still need to purchase tickets? Early bird ticket sales will continue until July 1. Early bird ticket purchasers will be entered into a drawing for one of twelve great prizes including a one-night’s stay at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel on November 18; one of three Field of Dreams ticket books; or one of eight autographed items from our featured entertainment.  For more information about Harvest Celebration, please contact GAC’s Anna Strickland at 706-336-6830 or
  We are looking forward to the featured entertainment from Georgia's very own Jeff Foxworthy. You don't want to miss this!
Congratulations to these early bird ticket purchasers. They will be entered into the drawing for 1 of 12 great prizes. 
GAC was pleased to join a long list of states from across the southeast in May as the  Southern Crop Production Association (SCPA)  hosted their annual trip. It gave us a chance to speak with many in the Georgia delegation about pesticide issues affecting our industry.   Topics included NPDES pesticide permitting, continued concerns regarding Waters of the US (WOTUS), the implications of Vermont’s looming GMO labeling law, and pollinators.   We had a chance to sit down and talk with most of the Georgia delegation and also some great staff members that are always helpful. This SCPA initiative is important to our overall objectives. It brings together a large agricultural region of the country at one time and leverages relationships that benefit sound policy development. We thank the SCPA team of  Jeff Cassady , Bucky Kennedy and Megan Christy for coordinating this effort. We also appreciate teaming up with several ag industry friends and GAC members as we worked together to improve agriculture in Georgia and across the U.S. 
I n recent weeks, GAC has spent an abnormal amount of time crafting letters to EPA, pushing back on their pesticide registration and review process for a variety of active ingredients and products used in agriculture. We are grateful that many in agriculture are also taking up the fight. Last month, we mentioned letters to EPA targeting proposed label changes for the use of the herbicide Paraquat . In addition, we have submitted letters to EPA regarding their concerns with tank mixing a combination of pesticide products. Our letters, including the re-registration of the insecticide Sulfoxaflor and the registration of a new wheat herbicide, Arylex .

We will soon send letters regarding the re-registration of Aldicarb (old trade name Temik) as part of its registration review process. As Georgia growers know, Aldicarb is very important and has been off the market since 2011. AgLogic 15G is the new Aldicarb product waiting to come online, plus it is produced here in Georgia. Click here to submit comments on aldicarb. The deadline is June 27. In addition, EPA just issued a flawed draft Ecological Risk Assessment for Atrazine . They will soon open up the Federal Docket for a 60 day public comment period. GAC will be submitting comments on this issue as well and we encourage you to consider submitting comments on behalf of your farm and agribusiness. Watch for more on this in the weeks ahead. Your letters supporting the use of these products are important!
GAC’s Jonathan Harding toured agriculture retailer facilities along with other state and national associations. The tour was hosted by the Asmark Institute and took place in early May. The goal was to engage new staff members of ally ag associations and get a broad view of what challenges these retailers face that are involved in the ag chem, fertilizer and the general ag retail industry in a variety of states.  The tour group traveled over 1400 miles through Indiana, Illinois and also Kentucky, meeting with numerous ag retailers including Crop Production Services, Helena Chemical, Southern States, and many smaller facilities.  The tour included a stop at the Responsible Ag training center for ag retailers. Responsible Ag has grown to become a very successful auditing program to promote public welfare by assisting ag retailers as they seek to comply with federal environmental, health, safety and security rules regarding the safe handling and storage of fertilizer products.  The organization provides participating businesses a federal regulatory compliance audit relating to the safe storage and handling of fertilizers, recommendations for corrective action where needed and a robust suite of resources to assist in this regard.  This experience gave great insight to the new technologies, safe guards, and the common struggles that the ag chem and fertilizer industries are facing today. Throughout the weeklong tour, there were several common challenges for our industry that were repeated. Labor shortages and fighting over-regulation by OSHA and the EPA.  It was said many times that finding labor and seasonal drivers has become almost impossible.  Many of the ag retailers were using retired farmers who were still licensed to drive their seasonal trucks.  The topic of over regulation was also an extensive, popular conversation.

We appreciate the Asmark institute for facilitating the tour and providing extremely valuable services to ag retailers. GAC is proud to partner with Asmark in delivering their compliance services to the industry. These services help ensure that their customers are ready for anything OSHA, EPA or any other regulatory agency has to throw at the industry.  They are an indispensable part of the ag retail industry.  For more information on the Asmark Institute and their services, click here .  
The Georgia National Fairgrounds has teamed up with Georgia’s Public Libraries for a summer reading program that challenges children from ages 5-12 to read as much as they can this summer.  There will be a winner from each of Georgia’s 405 public libraries of one prize pack (4 General Admission tickets) to the Georgia National Fair.  Kroger , Plain Stated , Sutherland’s FoodService , and the Georgia Agribusiness Council served as the initial sponsors of the program, but more are needed. The Georgia FFA Foundation is helping promote the program by sending FFA members to libraries. We appreciate the leadership of Diana Earwood of Plain Stated for spearheading this initiative. Please email her at for sponsorship information. For more information on the Summer Reading Program click here. Good luck to all the readers!


With the May 24th primary election behind us, we were very pleased to see that our ag friends at both the state and national level fared very well.  On the national level, Senator Johnny Isakson, along with Congressmen Rick Allen, Doug Collins, Tom Graves, Barry Loudermilk and Austin Scott did exceptionally well. Several of these incumbents now face opposition in November. We are grateful for their broad support. At the state level, Senate Ag Chairman John Wilkinson enjoyed a strong victory, as did Senate Natural Resources Chairman Frank Ginn and Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis. The election for ag friends Matt Brass (Newnan) and Blake Tillery (Vidalia) also went very well as each will join the Senate in 2017. GAC member and House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Terry England crushed his opponent with 90% of the vote and House Majority Leader Jon Burns also won by a large margin. Longtime GAC friends Reps. Brooks Coleman, Tommy Benton, Jimmy Pruett and Tom Kirby also won their respective races handily. There were no casualties for agriculture at this stage, but some face opposition in the General Election in November - so continue to support and get out the vote for agriculture in November.

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!

Nearly one year ago, the Georgia Agribusiness Council began to work with a group of member companies to seek an alternative healthcare solution. That effort began by conducting a healthcare actuarial survey in partnership with the Snellings Walters and the new program is branded as AgriHealth of Georgia. This program is a “group medical captive,” which is a partially self-funded healthcare plan. Group medical captives are structured to serve as long-term, high-quality programs for some industry sectors – and the actuarial data shows GAC membership meets key targets to build a successful program. AgriHealth of Georgia is an economic service available for GAC members and is structured to help those enrolled in the program guide their own success. We have continued our relationship with Snellings Walters Insurance Agency for enrollment and Milliman for actuary services. Our AgriHealth of Georgia program utilizes the national Blue Cross Blue Shield network. Like most programs, we have to start small and then expand, so the AgriHealth of Georgia group medical captive program is only currently available to our members with 40 or more employees. Later this year, we hope to announce a new initiative that will serve our members with 10 or more employees.
In the past few months the program has grown to include 10 companies, covering over 1,100 lives. The latest GAC member companies that have signed up for AgriHealth include Arbor-Nomics, Patten Seed Company and Tri-Scapes. Most businesses experience an increase on the cost of their health insurance, each year at renewal.  According to the experts, most employers have experienced an average increase of 7% on their health insurance premiums over the past 6 years. The following graph shows the average healthcare costs for every 100 employees.  We are demonstrating the performance of the AgriHealth of Georgia program against the average increase for a fully insured medical program.  The AgriHealth of Georgia program uncovers possibilities to lower your fixed costs and control your claims.  Conservatively speaking, we have found that our actively managed program will cut the rising costs of healthcare in half.  The illustration below shows that those dollars add up after just 6 years, saving nearly $800,000 per 100 employees.
I t is our goal to help you advance your business - and healthcare costs are a large impediment for many. In time, with growing participation, we will be able to offer it to all GAC member companies. Please contact Michael Parker at Snellings Walters at 770-396-9600 or for a full description of how this program can benefit your agribusiness .


Last month, Governor Deal announced Jud Turner, Georgia’s EPD director for the past four years, would depart on June 1. Turner left EPD to serve as the state’s “water czar” in its continuing litigation with Florida and Alabama over shared water rights. In recent weeks, Deal named Richard Dunn, the deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, as the next director of the Environmental Protection Division. 
Dunn must be confirmed by the Georgia Board of Natural Resources before taking the help on June 15 to lead the 700-employee agency that issues and enforces pollution permits for air, water and land resources. In addition, we were pleased to learn that Ms. Lauren Curry will serve as deputy director. Curry used to work for Georgia EPD and will be an excellent addition in this new role. 

As for Richard Dunn, he has been an effective leader in state government for the past 15 years, especially so during his four years at the Office of Planning and Budget. In recent years, he has been involved in policy decisions impacting health care, human services, public safety, transportation, economic development, natural resources, education, and taxes. “I am confident that Dunn and Curry will continue advancing Georgian’s interests in a new capacity as they manage and protect Georgia’s most valuable resources,” Deal said in a prepared statement. We look forward to working with this new leadership team and their staff in crafting policy that serves all the people of Georgia.     

We have enjoyed meeting with GAC member companies in recent weeks, discussing our initiatives, especially protecting the Georgia Ag Tax Exemption (GATE) program, and seeing member businesses along the way. We enjoy the one-on-one visits with the businesses we serve. These discussions help us better understand specific challenges as we look for ways we can help provide solutions. This is where policy decisions are so important and we value the input received. Here are a few photos of the visits made in recent weeks.
Buddy Leger of Leger and Son
Cordele, GA
Monroe, GA
Larry Cunningham of R.L. Cunningham and Sons
Zach Floyd of The Boy and The Dog
Rutledge, GA
Kelly Peele of KMC 
Tifton, GA
Donna Hays and Laura Pinson of Hays LTI
Camilla, GA
Eric Rojek of Thrush Aircraft
Albany, GA
Richard Hay and Bud Miller of Agri Supply 
Statesboro, GA
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.
GAC is pleased to be a partner with the  Asmark Institute  to provide a variety of compliance assistance resources and employee training programs. Since 1990, more than 80,000 people across the nation have utilized the Asmark Institute for quality solutions tailored to the unique needs of agricultural retailers and other related agribusinesses. The new “Safe & Sound” online management tool delivers an innovative platform to perform, manage and track employee training. It incorporates advanced technologies, professional quality DVDs covering 31 training subjects form the most extensive library of ag-specific subjects anywhere. Click here to view the Proposal or the Sample Console for more information.
* The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) recently issued a policy bulletin regarding the Agriculture Sales and Use Tax Exemption. This is a thorough guide covering several issues relating to proper use of the card and sales tax collection parameters. It also outlines state law with regard to penalties for GATE card holders and retailer should abuses occur. Please review this document and make sure you are in compliance with the DOR rules of the program.

* The Georgia Feed & Grain Association (GFGA) is hosting their 2016 Annual Convention at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, June 23 – 26. GAC is pleased to be on the program this year. For meeting details and registration form, please visit Georgia Feed & Grain Association’s website at

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.

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

GAC's Anna McIntyre (now Anna Strickland) said " I Do" May 21, 2016 to Dr. Tyson Strickland.  We are very happy for them both and wish them the best.  She can be reached at:

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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