Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
Volume 30, No. 12 Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. April 2, 2021
SINE DIE! The 40 Day Legislative Session came to a wild and crazy close in the early hours of Thursday morning. GAC staff were involved on several issues on the final day as we fought to protect and advance the policy initiatives of agriculture until the last gavels were slammed. Dozens of bills impacting our industry were passed and several that would have caused harm were defeated throughout the session. Our goal is always to serve our membership and you can be proud of your investment in the Georgia Agribusiness Council as those priorities were delivered on.

We've provided a snap shot of some of the Day 40 action in the newsletter with an update on bills impacting our industry below. GAC is always proud to lead Georgia's largest industry and we sincerely appreciate your support and efforts throughout the year.
Don't have time to read the full newsletter? This is a great tool to get a quick snapshot of the week's activities throughout the session. For a recap of week 12, click here.
Chairman Sam Watson’s House Bill 498 gained final passage shortly before midnight Wednesday. The bill, as sometimes happens late at night on day 40, became entangled in the high stakes showdown between the House of Representatives and executives from Atlanta's corporate community. Chairman Watson and others were able to fight off substitute language and keep the legislation intact as Chairman Clay Pirkle presented the final language to the House for an agree vote.

This legislation will update the Georgia Code so that qualifying family farm entities will not be subject to ad valorem tax on farm equipment due to their business structure. Much like the issue we faced with CUVA three years ago, it would allow for entities that qualify separately to consolidate or merge in order to bear the costs of the extremely capital-intensive industry that is agribusiness.

This issue was brought forward by a member of the GAC board of directors last year and we are proud to have fought alongside Rep. Watson throughout the entire process. If signed by the Governor, this issue will be put before the voters of Georgia as a statewide referendum on the 2022 ballot.
The Supreme Court released a unanimous 9-0 decision in favor of Georgia in the Water War against Florida Thursday morning. The justices ruled that Florida failed to show any real evidence that Georgia overused it's natural resources, much less caused the irreparable harm to the Apalachicola oyster fishery as the state suggested. This is wonderful news for Georgia and our agriculture industry. This battle has been lingering since first being filed in 2013 and has cost the state millions of dollars to fight.

Justice Barrett delivered the opinion of the Court and stated that "Based on our independent review of the record, we agree with the Special Master’s recommendation. We therefore overrule Florida’s exceptions to the Special Master’s Report and dismiss the case."

The full Supreme Court ruling can be found HERE.
SB 260 by Senator Tyler Harper was passed with a narrow margin in the House after failing on it's first attempt, 87-75, and being tabled for later reconsideration. As is often the case with legislation dealing with soil amendments, enviro-activists spent several weeks working to stop the legislation from moving forward by bombarding legislators with emails and calls to spread false information about what this bill actually does.

After the failed vote, GAC staff worked with members of the House and Senate to find Representatives that were open to changing their votes as well as rounding up supportive legislators that were still making their way onto the chamber floor at the time of the first vote Monday. The work paid off as SB 260 was ultimately passed by a 92-68 margin.

Soil amendments, and the waste products from food production they utilize, are vital parts of the agribusiness ecosystem. The bill will clarify statewide rules so that no local government shall be prohibited or impaired from adopting or enforcing any zoning ordinance, including the adoption of buffers and setbacks; provided, further, that no such buffer or setback shall exceed 100 feet in width. The bill will also require farms and landowners that utilize soil amendments to have a nutrient management plan in place prior to application of the amendments.
The $27.2 billion dollar FY22 budget received final passage late on the final day of session. The budget does not include the billions of dollars that will be flowing from the Federal government from recently passed COVID-19 relief packages. Agriculture interests faired well in the big budget and we appreciate the hard work by Chairman Terry England and Chairman Blake Tillery, as well as their committees, throughout the budget process. Here are some highlights on the funding provided to ag related entities.
Dept. of Agriculture
  • $565,000 for increases in salaries to key employees of Dept. of Ag
  • $241,740 for one soil scientist and one compliance officer to administer Soil Amendment program
  • $307,000 for Hemp Program
  • $333,000 for Market Bulletin funding to increase subscribers and provide bulletin to all GATE Card holders
  • $2,000,000 to DNR for increased funding of Parks and Historic sites
  • $$2,851,620 Agriculture Experiment Station
  • $$2,652,325 for Cooperative Extension Service
  • $11,800,000 in 20-year bonds for construction of Ag Facilities at Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College
  • $5,770,000 in 20-year bonds for the renovation to Mobley Hall at the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center in Covington.
  • $30 million for rural broadband expansion
  • $39.5 million to establish the Rural Innovation Fund 
House Bill 676 by Chairwoman Penny Houston was passed in the Senate Wednesday and aims to address funding and administrative concerns of the multiple state owned farmers markets throughout Georgia. The Senate Ag Committee amended the language to create a legislative oversight committee. The committee will also commission an independent study of the long term needs and viability of Georgia's markets. According to the bill, the oversight committee is to be made up of: The chairpersons of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Economic Development and Tourism and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture and Consumer Affairs or their designees as ex officio; The chairperson of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee or his or her designee; The chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee or his or her designee; Three members of the House of Representatives appointed by the chairperson of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee; and Three members of the Senate appointed by the chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
SB 222 by Senator Carden Summers reached final passage in the House and will now officially declare the pecan as Georgia's State Nut. This bill will allow Georgia pecan growers another opportunity to proudly market their products.

According to SB 222, Pecans can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or flavored and can be incorporated into gourmet cooking through countless recipes, such as pecan pie, pralines, brittle, and candies. Public recognition and demand for Georgia Grown branded products have increased significantly due in large part to the many Georgia Grown pecan growers and processors who promote this state's homegrown products and agritourism sites. People throughout the nation and world associate Georgia with the pecan, and appropriate Georgia recognition of pecans will help promote tourism in the state. 
HB 112 by House Majority Whip Trey Kelley extends COVID-19 liability protections for Georgia businesses and hospitals through July 14, 2022. Since last August, the liability protections have protected businesses and health-care facilities in Georgia from frivolous lawsuits brought by people who claim to contract COVID-19 in all but the worst negligence or reckless cases. The bill was carried by Chairman Strickland in the Senate and now heads to the Governor for signature.


SB 6: Sen. Albers - This bill would provide for independent economic analyses to be procured by the Office of Planning and Budget for certain tax break benefits upon request by the chairpersons of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

SB 67: Sen. Walker III - A bill requiring the documentation of a Georgia driver's license number or the elector's personal identification card number when submitting an absentee ballot. Passed Senate and assigned to the House Special Committee on Election Integrity.

SB 86: Sen. Walker III - A bill aimed at fighting unwarranted solicitations. Any written solicitation for services relating to corporate filings must include a header that reads, "THIS IS A SOLICITATION. THIS IS NOT A BILL OR OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT AND HAS NOT BEEN SENT BY THE GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE." Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

SB 98: Sen. Beach - Relating to highways, bridges, and ferries, so as to provide for eligible expenditures for the Georgia Freight Railroad Program of the Georgia Department of Transportation. Bill will provide procedures, conditions, and limitations for public and private financing of projects. Bill will amend the composition of the Georgia Ports Authority. Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

SB 100: Sen. Watson - To provide that this state shall observe standard time year-round until such time as Congress authorizes the states to observe daylight savings time. Assigned to the Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

SB 102: Sen. Kennedy- SB 102 would prohibit governmental entities from adopting any policy that prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility serviced based upon the type or source of energy or fuel. Passed through the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities.

SB 119: Sen. Harper - Relates to permits required for burning woods, lands, marshes, or other flammable vegetation. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

SB 195: Sen. Mullis – Bill relating to the specifies of Hemp farming. SB 195 more strictly defines the term “process or processing” to exclude packaging raw or dried materials, shucking, bucking, sorting, trimming, and curing. Adding specified language clarifies that traditional farming practices would not be considered processing and would not require a processing license. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

SB 222: Sen. Summers - A bill to designate the pecan as the official state nut. Assigned to the Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

SB 247: Sen. Anderson - would modernize the way Georgia commodity commissions release announcements. Instead of the commissions releasing announcements through the AJC, they will be able to send news and announcements out through the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s website and GDA's Market Bulletin. Virtual meetings, as well as a simplified voting process, will be implemented. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
SB 260: Sen. Harper - Relating to soil amendments so that no local government shall be prohibited or impaired from adopting or enforcing any zoning ordinance, including the adoption of buffers and setbacks; provided, further, that no such buffer or setback shall exceed 100 feet in width. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.


HB 44: Rep. Cantrell - This bill would require Georgia to observe Daylight Savings Time year-round instead of falling back and moving forward as is currently the tradition. This would become effective only if the U.S. Congress authorizes states to observe daylight savings time year-round. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HB 90: Rep. Williamson - The bill seeks to address a conflict in law between an outdated law from 1939 and the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) regarding timber transactions. Georgia law is clear that the UCC supersedes if there is a
conflict. If left unaddressed, the conflict would leave the forest industry exposed to unnecessary liability and encumber transactions of timber. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law
HB 98: Rep. Lumsden - This bill would authorize counties and cities to conduct “public hearings” by teleconference during emergency conditions (e.g. pandemics). The policy would acknowledge that participation by teleconference would be equal to full in-person participation as if those conducting the public hearing are physically present and members of the public must be afforded the means to participate fully in the same manner as if they
were physically present. The legislation comes from several instances around the state where local municipalities struggled to conduct the business of their boards as quorums were not met because of health concerns of in-person meetings. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
HB 112: Rep. Kelley - COVID-19 liability protections for Georgia businesses and hospitals would be extended until July 14, 2022, under a bill introduced in the General Assembly. Since August, the liability protections have shielded businesses and health-care facilities in Georgia from lawsuits brought by people who contract COVID-19 in all but the worst negligence or recklessness cases. The bill only calls for a one-year extension. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law

HB 139: Rep Mainor - This bill would prohibit trains from restricting traffic crossing for longer than 15 minutes except in emergency situations. Assigned to House Transportation Committee.
HB 150: Rep. Williamson - This bill would prohibit local government entities in Georgia from banning the connection of any utility service based on the type or source of fuel. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
Bagwell Insurance Group, Inc.
Beaver Creek Plantation
Brooksco Dairy, LLC
Camp Family Farms LLC
Carroll EMC
DeWitt Produce Co. Inc.
Doerun Gin Co. Inc.
Georgia Cotton Commission
Georgia Development Authority
Georgia Power
Georgia Young Farmers Association
Hattaway Farms Partnership
International Forest Company, Inc.
Jones Cork, LLP
Kelley Manufacturing Co.
Market Grocery Company
Mercier Orchards
Mixon Seed Services Inc.
Mobley Greenhouses, Inc.
SafEnvirons, Inc.
Striplings General Store - Bogart GA
Superior Pine Products Co.
The Turfgrass Group, Inc.
USA Poultry & Egg Export Council
WDairy LLC

Ag Technologies LLC dba Vantage Southeast 
AgSouth Services, Inc.
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
C. M. Tanner Grocery Co. Inc.
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co.
Cotton Partners LLC
Cromartie Agricultural Chemicals Inc.
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Drexel Chemical Co.
Durden Banking Co. Inc.
Embry Farm Service/ Embry Transport
Emanuel Peanut & Grain LLC
Esparza Enterprises, Inc.
Farmer's Best Fertilizer
G & H Harvesting Inc.
Garcia Family Harvesting, Inc.
GA Assoc. of County Agricultural Agents
Georgia Christmas Tree Association
Georgia Food Bank Association Inc.
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Georgia Vocational Ag Teacher Association
Greene County Fertilizer Co.
Greg Leger Farms, LLC
Greg Sikes Farm, LLC
H. T. McLendon Co.
Hazel Creek Cider, Inc. / Yearwood Farms, Inc.
Hulsey Farm Service
Israel Farm Supply, Inc.
Joe Boddiford Farms
L. R. Land & Cattle Company, Inc.
Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC
Lenox Peanut Company
Longbridge Peanut Co.
McCorkle Nurseries, Inc.
McIntyre Golf Development
Moultrie Colquitt County Development Authority 
Northeast Georgia Livestock
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Patrick Family Farms
Peebles Timber, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc
Sconyers Gin & Warehouse Co.
South Georgia Produce, Inc.
Southern AGCOM Inc.
Southern Seed Company, Inc.
Swainsboro Stockyard
Sweetbay Farm, LLC
Sylvania Peanut Co. Inc.
The Satsuma Company, LLC
Three Brothers Trucking, LLC
Vidalia Onion Business Council
West Georgia Processing, Inc.

Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!
HB 169 Rep. Corbett - would remove the 180-day extension hurdle and grant a CDL instruction permit for a period not to exceed 365 days. Georgia's current law requires a CDL instruction permit not to be issued for a period to exceed 180 days and can be renewed one time for an additional 180 days. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HB 282: Rep Meeks - This bill redefines a contiguous property in order to include tracts that are divided by a public boundary such as a road. Also aims to limit the determination of fair market value to a weighted market and income approach to valuation. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HB 336: Rep. Corbett - Relating to hemp farming. The bill provides legislation in compliance with federal laws and regulations, requiring history reports, disposal techniques, and sampling and testing. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HB 355: Rep. Wiedower - a long-time priority of our friends at the Georgia Forestry Association was introduced by Representatives Wiedower of the 119th this week. The bill would create the nation’s first carbon registry for sustainable buildings that they hope will encourage developers to utilize mass timber and other materials that sequester carbon in more construction projects. This effort was embodied in House Bill 1015 last year, which passed the House with nearly unanimous support, but did not move in the Senate after the COVID epidemic upended the legislature’s work. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HB 498: Rep. Watson - HB 498 will expand property tax exemptions for agricultural equipment and certain farm products. Bill will add dairy products and unfertilized eggs of poultry to be considered farm products in respect to the exemption. Passed through the House and Senate and will be voted on by referendum in the 2022 election.

HB 574: Rep. Camp - This legislation relates to licenses for pet dealers and kennel, stable, or animal shelter operators. it provides a Companion Local Government Animal Trust Fund for reimbursement of impoundment expenses incurred by local governments. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
HB 647: Rep. Smith - provides groundwater monitoring in areas where coal combustion residual impoundments reside and have recently closed. HB 647 passed through the House and assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee

HB 676: Rep. Penny Houston - Establish a Georgia Farmers' Market and Produce Terminal Development Authority. The creation of an authority will allow markets to function more independently and manage retained earnings. The authority will have ten members including the Commissioner of Agriculture, to represent the state’s agricultural, business, and consumer interests and from all geographic areas of the state. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HB 693: Rep Meeks - tractors to operate on state and local roadways with the right of way. General vehicles must give way to tractors and assume responsibility to safely move and drive within the presence of a tractor vehicle. Passed through the House and Senate and will be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

HR 185: Rep. Ralston - reauthorizing the House Rural Development Council. Chairman Sam Watson presented the resolution and noted that rural communities face various challenges in social, educational, technological, and economic spheres. This resolution re-establishes a council composed of 15 members of the House of Representatives to be appointed by the Speaker of the House. Beginning May 1, 2021, the council will continue to study the conditions, needs, issues, and problems within these areas recommended action or legislation that the council deems necessary or appropriate. Passed through the House
The Georgia Agribusiness Council has chosen to partner with Naylor Association Solutions on the 2021 GAC Membership Directory. By purchasing advertising space in the GAC Directory, you are making an excellent investment in your business and brand. We are confident that our partnership with Naylor will continue to increase networking and promotional opportunities already included in your membership. Be on the lookout for contact from a Naylor representative.
The 2021 GAC Star Sponsor program registration is now underway and off to a great start. 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 2021 Star Sponsor registration information and email Jill Hansard or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830. Thank you!
ASMARK INSTITUTE - Safe & Sound Online Training 

The Safe & Sound Online Training Management tool is ideal for organizations seeking a comprehensive training solution that incorporates advanced technologies to help manage their employee training from start to finish, simplifying and streamlining the process.

Other features include:

  • Thirty-one ag-specific topics on DVD, licensed for on-site use
  • Manage your employee list
  • Order personalized new hire, re-hire, or supplemental training kits
  • Track results on your personal dashboard
  • And much more!

Click here for more information. This link will take your members directly to our website to learn more about the Safe & Sound Online Training Management tool.
We're here to help you!
We look forward to helping you discover how we can help you gain knowledge in the industry through events, workshops, and webinars. Visit our website at ugaurbanag.com to begin your journey through all that we have to offer you! It's all just a click or two away! Subscribe and update your preferences today!

Do you have any special product promotions? Home delivery? Curbside pickup? Let us help get the word out. Complete this form (https://bit.ly/ag-connect) and we’ll promote it to the public through our website (https://t.uga.edu/5TB) and the social media accounts of our extensive network of county Extension offices throughout the state.
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