Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
January 2019
With the New Year we are preparing for the 2019   GAC Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast, which will take place on February 5 & 6 We hope you join us.
The GAC Annual Meeting  will take place on February 5 at  The American Hote l ,  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 make hotel reservations, Click Here or 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 6 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. Governor Brian Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr have been invited to speak and we are pleased to announce that Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black , House Appropriations Chairman Terry England , House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall and Senate Agriculture Chairman John Wilkinson have been confirmed to join us for the breakfast.

A shuttle from The American Hotel will be provided to the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue lauded the bill as a positive for American agriculture saying, "farmers take financial risks every year as a matter of doing business, so having a Farm Bill in place gives them peace of mind to make their decisions for the future."
President Trump added some positive feedback for farmers that have faced a difficult few years, saying "Through floods and freezing weather, we will always stand with American Farmers."
While the actual text of the legislation is extremely lengthy and technical, here are some of the highlights of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The bill works to address the 5-year, 52-percent decline in the farm economy by providing certainty for farmers and agribusinesses so they can prepare for the future. 
Several features of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) were moved into the very popular incentive-based program for voluntary conservation — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This supports emerging conservation practices such as the use of cross fencing for livestock, water conservation and use of cover crops. 
Safety Nets
Farmers, bankers, and agribusiness owners across the state stressed the importance of crop insurance and the 2018 bill works to protect those safety nets. Some improvements were made but, overall, crop insurance was left mostly unchanged. Congress did add requirements for the USDA Risk Management Agency to conduct research on future changes to an insurance policy for producers impacted by hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The legislation made positive changes for dairy producers by remaking the Margin Protection Program. This will increase coverage levels and reduce premiums for dairymen.
The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) options are strengthened and reauthorized through 2023. The bill would give producers an opportunity to make a new election between ARC and PLC with several improvements.
Given the latest trade discussions with Canada, Mexico and China, the bill addresses some of the uncertainty that can occur as producers put a crop in the ground that’s prices are directly tied to global economic conditions and changing trade agreements. According to USDA, the farm bill looks to “stand by our nation’s farmers and ranchers, providing a strengthened safety net and authorizing and restoring funding for vital tools for trade promotion and market development."
Long-standing legal authority for the secretary to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by unfair foreign trade practices has been maintained in the 2018 Farm Bill. 
Rural Development
Addressing rural broadband issues and the opioid crisis, the bill authorizes substantial annual appropriations for rural broadband and requires USDA to establish forward-looking broadband standards. The bill expands the use of loan guarantees that allow rural lenders to leverage loans made for rural development projects and it removes population caps that kept some in rural America from benefiting from the programs because their town topped the 50,000 people cap. The farm bill also provides the secretary with the authority to prioritize projects that help communities meet the challenges of the opioid crisis. 
Animal Health
A new National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program has been established through the 2018 Farm Bill. Designed to protect the health of the nation's livestock sector, the program is modeled after the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program that has been successful and strengthened the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ability to protect U.S. agriculture and natural resources from foreign plant pest threats. Funding was included for a vaccination bank that will focus on foot-and-mouth disease as well as money for the National Animal Health Laboratory.
Specialty and Organic Crops
The new International Market Development Program in the farm bill restores funding for Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC). Expanding and improving crop insurance policies for specialty crops is also addressed, along with improvements to the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, while maintaining funding.
Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
Several provisions to help beginning farmers and ranchers establish themselves in agriculture are provided in the bill. The bill enhances access to crop insurance and establishes a scholarship program designed to assist students interested in agricultural careers. 
Many challenges faced by young farmers are linked to retiring producers, so the 2018 Farm Bill establishes the “Commission on Farm Transitions – Needs for 2050”, to examine additional policy changes needed to ensure that the U.S. maintains the safest, most abundant and most affordable food and fiber supply in the world."
As the government shutdown continues, livestock haulers remain exempt from enforcement of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. The shutdown that began on Dec. 21, 2018, has had a number of impacts on government functions including the ongoing delay of ELD implementation for livestock and insect transporters. A resolution to put more time on the clock for implementation of ELDs for livestock and insect haulers remains in the federal spending bill that has yet to be approved by President Trump and will be reevaluated in Congress. 
A notice on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website states the following in regards to ELD implementation: “Transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD. The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice. Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.”
That means for the time being livestock haulers can continue documenting Hours of Service with paper logs, which has been the case since the majority of other truckers started following the ELD rules on Dec. 18, 2017. GAC will continue to pursue the exemptions for livestock and insect haulers as well as ways to lessen the regulation on all segments of agriculture.
Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!

 The RDC, Co-chaired by GAC friends Rep. Terry England and Rep. Jay Powell , met 15 different times in 5 cities over the course of 2018 looking for various ways to improve economic opportunities in rural Georgia. The committee recently released its recommendations for the 2019 legislative session and several areas are of interest to Georgia Agribusiness including on farm wineries as well as rural broadband development. For more information on the committees body of work, click here .
As of this time, Congress is still deliberating on how, and if, additional funds will be provided for Georgia's Ag industry that was directly affected by Hurricane Michael. Much of the conversation has been held up by the Government Shutdown as well as fights for funding for the boarder wall. GAC continues to work with our partners to encourage Congress to act quickly as our farmers in South Georgia are still trying to recover from this devastating storm. We ask that each GAC member reach out to your Congressional representative and ensure they know how important this issue is to the fate of rural Georgia and agriculture.

If you were unable to join us during the Harvest Celebration please view our video highlighting the devastation incurred by Georgia's agriculture industry during Hurricane Michael.
Did you vote in both the November General Election as well as December Runoffs?
  1. Yes - I voted in both: 97.7%
  2. No - I only voted in the general election: 2.3%
  3. No - I did not vote at all this year: 0%
Heading into the 2019 Legislative Session, which policy area are you most concerned with?
General Agriculture Policy
Immigration Reform
Water Rights
Many thanks to our   2018 Star Sponsors . We appreciate the outstanding support last year!  The 2019 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 2019 Star Sponsor registration information, email Jill Hansard or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830. Thank you!
With the 2019 legislative session getting underway on Monday, January 14, we will begin our weekly “Inside Agriculture” reports each Friday beginning Jan. 18. Everything is not the same this year under the gold dome, of course, as the elections have ushered in a new Governor, Lt. Governor and several new legislators in the Georgia House and Senate. There will be changes for some chairmanships as well as general makeup in the first few weeks of the session – we’ll report these updates, legislative initiatives, and Capitol conversations in our weekly reports. We look forward to serving as your eyes and ears again this year. Please contact us whenever we can be of service.
The  UGA CAES 2019 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.
·         Tuesday, January 22:  Macon (GA Farm Bureau Building) Click Here .
·         Wednesday, January 23:  Carrollton (Carroll County Ag Center)  Click Here.
·         Friday, January 25:  Watkinsville (Oconee County Civic Center)  Click Here.
·         Tuesday, January 29:  Lyons (Toombs County Ag-Center)  Click Here.
·         Thursday, January 31:  Bainbridge (Decatur County Agricultural Center)  Click Here.
·         Friday, February 1:  Tifton (Tifton Campus Conference Center)  Click Here.
AGCO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO) and the Asmark Institute have created a new Applicator Training Course specifically for crop protection and crop nutrient applicators with more than three years of experience. The two-day program was developed at the request of agricultural retailers and will help experienced applicators stay current with critical issues in an every-changing industry. The classroom course will be conducted at the Applicator Training Center in Bloomington, Ill., which opened in June 2017 through collaboration between the two organizations.

For more information about the Experienced Applicator Training Course or to register online, go to Registration is open for classes available in January, February and March of 2019. For more information about application technology available from AGCO visit your local AGCO Application Equipment dealer or
Click here for full press release document.
* 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 2019 SE Regional Conference will be held January 10-13, 2019 in beautiful Savannah, Georgia! Attendee registration is now open !
*The 68th Annual Georgia Plant Food Educational Society, Inc. Winter Business Meeting & Trade Show will be January 15-16, 2019. 2019 is the 8th year that the Winter Meeting and Trade Show will be held at the University of Georgia Conference Center in Tifton, GA. The 2019 program will include agronomic and industry updates as well as addressing pressing issues facing Georgia Agriculture. Click here for more information.
*The 43rd annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 , from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia. The one-day show is free and open to all farmers and industry representatives to attend.  Click here for more information.
* The 2019  Georgia Association of Conservation Districts  Annual Meeting is coming up soon from January 18 - 20, 2019 at the Lake Lanier Islands in Buford, Georgia. Click here for more info.
* The 2019  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   f or more info and to register.
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