Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
   July 2018
The Florida vs. Georgia water ruling last week by the U.S. Supreme Court missed the mark by kicking the case back to the Special Master. We hoped the court would agree with the 2017 Special Master report and move us closer to a resolution of this 30-year struggle...alas, the beat goes on. The bright side of all of this is that Georgia has a proven track record of conservation and Governor Deal, Lt. Governor Cagle and Speaker Ralston are all committed to dedicating the necessary experts and resources to see this through. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision simply keeps the lawsuit alive and will create more legal fees for both states. Georgia has already paid over $47 million in defending us from Florida.
The battle over water use from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River system stumbled last week because the court ruled that the Special Master assigned to hear the case in 2016 had applied too high of a standard. So now the Special Master is charged with looking at specific issues, such as the impact of water use caps and consideration of a cost/benefit of any proposed limits.

You may recall Florida started all this mess when they sued Georgia in 2013. The court assigned the case to a Special Master, Ralph Lancaster...who in now 86 years old. Following an extensive data review, he held a 5-week trial in 2016. This was followed by the much-celebrated Special Master report in February 2017 which rejected Florida’s argument that Georgia’s water consumption should be limited. He concluded that Florida had “not proven by clear and convincing evidence” that putting a cap on how much water Georgia could consume would actually improve the river flows “at a time that would provide a material benefit to Florida.” The facts showed that Georgia was right, but that wasn’t convincing enough for the Supreme Court. Perhaps the best example of the decision that the Supreme Court should have made, is contained in the dissent opinion of the case, as offered by Justice Clarence Thomas. We'll reference it again later.
In making their decision, the Supreme Court raised five critical questions:
1. Has Florida suffered harm as a result of decreased water flow into the Apalachicola River?
2. Has Florida shown that Georgia has taken too much water from the Flint River?
3. If so, has Georgia’s water in the ACF basin injured Florida?
4. If so, would a cap on Georgia’s use of the Flint River lead to a significant increase in streamflow from the Flint River into Florida’s Apalachicola River?
5. If so, would the amount of extra water that reaches the Apalachicola River resolve the economic harm that Florida claims to have suffered?
The court also stated that Florida should only win their argument if the benefits of any increased water allotment substantially outweighs the harm that might result.

In the dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas ( starts on page 39 of the ruling ) f ound that the extensive review by the special master would supported his findings that Georgia won. He stated, “Florida could not prove that it would receive more water when it needed it” if a consumption cap were placed on Georgia. Further, he stated that water Florida might receive during non-droughts would be coupled with “massive harms that Georgia would suffer if this Court cut its water use in half during droughts.” He then stated, “It is clear who should prevail in this case.” We couldn’t agree more!

So, what is next? This case has now been sent back to the Special Master for further consideration and we should learn more regarding a schedule. While this is in process, the Supreme Court and the Special Master continue to encourage the states to negotiate an outcome. We agree, but it takes two to negotiate and, so far, Florida has been noticeably absent. So, for now, the battle wages on. GAC will continue partnering with our ag industry allies to tell the story of agriculture's commitment to water conservation while we also support the efforts and needs of our elected leaders. Stay tuned...
Harvest Celebration will be held on November 16, 2018 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.  C ountry music powerhouse, Sammy Kershaw will serve as our entertainment. Harvest Celebration is key to the advocacy efforts of the Council, and we are very grateful for the support provided by our many members and industry friends. We hope to have you attend this first-class, engaging evening that you will want to share with friends, family and co-workers.

Early Bird tickets are on sale until July 27! Take advantage of this promotion to be entered into a drawing for one of twelve great prizes!  These include: A one-night's stay on November 16 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel; one of three field of Dreams ticket books; or one of eight autographed items from Sammy Kershaw.  Click the button below or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830 to secure your tickets today.
When Governor deal signed HR 51 and HB 85 in May, it was the final step to allow this important initiative that restructures the Forest Land Protection Act (FLPA) to gain access to the November ballot as a constitutional amendment. The GAC board of directors voted unanimously to endorse this initiative and work with the Georgia Forestry Association and others in promoting its passage to voters across Georgia. The constitutional amendment language on the ballot will read:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to revise provisions related to the subclassification for tax purposes of and the prescribed methodology for establishing the value of forest land conservation use property and related assistance grants, to provide that assistance grants related to forest land conservation use property may be increased by general law for a five-year period and that up to 5 percent of assistance grants may be deducted and retained by the state revenue commissioner to provide for certain state administrative costs, and to provide for the subclassification of qualified timberland property for ad valorem taxation purposes?"

As you can see, this issue can appear quite complicated and work will soon begin to help boil it down for voters to better understand. In essence, it simply updates the current funding formula for determining the fair market value of forest land as part of the very important Forest Land Protection Act while creating would also create a new category of taxable property for timberland, which will be evaluated by the state, not by each county. This is a win for rural communities, Georgia’s forestry industries, and private landowners.  
What are you experiencing with labor at your farm or agribusiness?
Okay so far: 27%
It is always challenging: 20%
Finding workers is very difficult this year: 20%
It's almost impossible to find workers: 27%
Started using a federal visa program:  6%
Please select from the following:
Protect tax benefits for farm and agribusiness interests (GATE & CUVA).
Additional income tax reductions.
Advance economic development in rural areas across Georgia.
Protect and advance funding for ag education, research & promotion
GAC is leading a group to DC next week to discuss the Farm Bill, ag workforce, trade tariffs and the many challenges with ELD requirements . We’ll be meeting with Members of the Georgia delegation as well as USDA. These issues are critical for our industry and this trip delivers a diverse group of industry leaders to discuss them face-to-face with those that can help us.

While in DC, GAC will also be meeting with all seven of the UGA Agriculture Fellows . GAC helps sponsor this program that allows students the opportunity to experience agriculture policy on a national level each summer.
UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences students (L-R) William Davison, Mason Goolsby, Emma Johnston, Madeline Rentz, Johnson Collins, Phyllicia Thomas and William Hicks.
Do not forget to take advantage of our new online Membership Directory. One of the advantages to the updated Georgia Agribusiness Council website was to lay the framework for an online directory of GAC's current membership. Members can now utilize this tool in addition to having a printed copy distributed every two years.  This new option allows you to view all current members and even search by county, city, or industry as well. 
This tool is for members only. You must have a login – this is the same login you would use for any of our event registrations. GAC members can easily create a login on our website. Go to Some member companies have already added their company logo or description, we will be happy to add your company logo and/or a brief description of your company as well - just contact GAC's Jill Hansard at or call the office at 706-336-6830. Thank you for your membership and support of GAC!
The  GAC Foundation  allows businesses and individuals to make tax-deductible donations to support ag education programs. FFA, 4-H, UGA Ag Fellows, and Destination Ag are just some of the programs receiving funds in addition to our  Dr. Joe B. Crane Classroom Grants  and the  Mr. Bill Baisley “Sumpin’ Big” Scholarships . The Foundation helps support a variety of programs that provide young people leadership and career development. Please consider making a donation to help these programs this year. Please   click here   for a donation form or call the office at 706-336-6830. Thank you!
The always popular AgriTrust of Georgia Regional Seminars are now set for 2018. These are designed for educational purposes of the more than 700 GAC member companies enrolled in our self-insured workers comp program, but all GAC members interested in this service can attend - just contact AgriTrust staff to see if space is available. Created by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, AgriTrust of Georgia provides a stable, affordable source of workers’ compensation insurance to the agribusiness industry. We encourage you to consider this proven program for your workers’ compensation insurance needs. For more information about AgriTrust of Georgia and these upcoming seminars. visit or contact Eddie Kinnard at 678-753-0016.

2018 AgriTrust Seminar Schedule
Wednesday, August 1 @ 12:00 noon:
The Plaza Restaurant; Thomasville
Thursday, August 2 @ 9:00 a.m.:
UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center; Tifton
Thursday, August 2 @ 12:30 noon:
Doublegate Country Club; Albany
Wednesday, August 8 @ 12:00 noon:
Bulloch Fertilizer Company; Statesboro
Thursday, August 9 @ 12:00 noon:
Railroad Depot; Lyons
Wednesday, August 15 @ 12:00 noon:
Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter; Perry    
Thursday, August 16 @ 12:00 noon:
United Community Bank; Dawsonville
Thursday, August 23 @ 12:00 noon:
State Farmers Market; Forest Park
Thursday, August 23 @ 6:00 p.m.:
Holiday Inn; Athens
We hate to see him go but we'll remain grateful to Chip Bridges for his nine years of outstanding service as the Georgia Agricultural Education Program Manager and State FFA Advisor. We know the Lumpkin County High School staff and students are excited to see him return home as the Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor. Students and friends always wanted to get a selfie with we added this one of him with Georgia's own National FFA Southern Region Vice President Ian Bennet . We wish Chip all the best and thank him for his outstanding service as an educator and as a leader in our amazing industry!
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
Cochran Oil Mill & Ginnery Inc.
Coffee County Gin Co. Inc 
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co. Inc.
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Docia Farms
Emanuel Peanut & Grain LLC
Embry Transport Inc.
GA Agricultural Commodity for Tobacco
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Hattaway Farms Partnership
Hazel Creek Cider, Inc. / Yearwood Farms
Israel Farm Supply Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.
Lyle Farms, LLC
Pineland Plantation
Quality Gin, Inc.
Shellman Carriers, LLC
Swainsboro Stockyard
Vidalia Onion Business Council
WHEE, Inc.
Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!
GAC is proud to partner with the Asmark Institute for quality training programs . As a GAC member, you have access to their variety of programs and tools. Need help with your Vehicle Maintenance Files? Proper vehicle maintenance and documentation results in less out-of-service time, violations and fines. Vehicle Maintenance Central (VMC) is a web-based tool that makes it simple and easy to track and document your vehicle maintenance files and is designed for a variety of different equipment . Click here for more information.
Hosted by AgGeorgia and AgSouth Farm Credit, these workshops educate attendees on all aspects of their operation ranging from budgeting finances to risk management. The classes are all from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm with lunch provided and there is no charge to attend. The workshops are certified for FSA borrower credits as well. 
Jackson EMC Office
Hull, GA
Thornton Recreation Center
Rome, GA

Blueberry Plantation Inn
Alma, GA
* Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 23 for the 2018 Ag Issues Summit. Senate Ag Committee Chairman John Wilkinson and House Ag Committee Chairman Tom McCall will once again host this event.  Details on registration will be made available soon. GAC is pleased to be a sponsor along with the Georgia Urban Ag Council, Georgia Forestry Association, Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Poultry Federation. 
* The 64th UGA Alumni Association Awards winners have been announced. We congratulate all for being recognized, especially former GAC board member Jimmy Carter has been selected to the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame. Congratulations to these winners!
Georgia Ag Hall of Fame - President Jimmy Carter
Alumni Award of Excellence - Donya Lester (BSA ’81), Krishna Paudel (PHD ’99), Calvin Perry (BSAE ’86, MS ’88), Jody Tyson Strickland (BSAE ’86) – GAC Member Company Saddle Creek Farm
Young Alumni Achievement Award - Linda Purvis (BSA ’02), Sara Webb Hughes (BSA ’02, MED ’03), Nick Chammoun (BSA ’07, MS ’09)

The 64th Alumni Association Awards Banquet will be held at the Tate Center in Athens, Georgia, on November 9, 2018. Registration will open later this summer. As of this time, President Carter is planning to attend to accept the Hall of Fame award in person.
* Happy Birthday to these GAC members that make 90 look easy!
Mr. Bob Dickey of Dickey Farms in Musella, GA. He celebrated his 90th birthday with peaches and ice cream on June 23.
Mr. Harold Israel of Israel Farm Supply in Smithville, GA. He celebrated his 92nd birthday on June 30.
* The Annual Convention of the Georgia & Alabama Seed Associations will take place July 9-10 at the King & Prince Resort on Saint Simons Island. Contact Billy Skaggs for registration information.
* Georgia Forestry Association's 2018 Annual Conference and Forestry Expo is being held at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa in Hilton Head South Carolina on July 16-18, 2018. This conference draws a diverse crowd of forest landowners, forest-industry professionals, and forest-based businesses to learn about forest advocacy issues in our state and to network with others in the forestry community. For more information click here .
* The Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day , a half-day showcase for crop technology and research, is set for July 24. Breakfast and the tour start at 7:30.
 * The Georgia Plant Food Educational Society will have their annual Summer meeting July 23-25, 2018 at the fabulous Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Click here for more information and registration.
* The 8th annual Georgia Cattlemen’s Association Summer Conference on July 26-28 will be held at the Villas by the Sea on Jekyll Island. There will be events and entertainment for the entire family. GAC looks forward to attending this event. Click here for 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