Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
Volume 30, No. 10 Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. March 19, 2021
Week ten of the Legislative Session checked off four more days on the calendar as we ended the week on Thursday. Lawmakers headed back to their districts after a full week of action with several GAC priority issues working through committees and some making it to final passage on the floor.

Next week will see three more official session days and two other committee work days. We hope that you will join us for the 2021 GAC Annual Meeting on Wednesday. Additional details are provided in the newsletter below. Another highlight of the week will happen on Monday morning as the Georgia Cattlemen's Association will host their annual Legislative Steak Biscuit Breakfast. This years event will also have a dairy flair, as the Georgia Mobile Dairy Classroom will be at the Capitol, giving lawmakers and staff an opportunity to learn more about Georgia's beef and dairy industry.

We've provided some highlights of the week below as well as a bill tracker with updated statuses of many of the bills still in play for this year.
WEEKLY AUDIO SNAPSHOT WITH SOUTHEAST AGNET
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 10, click here.
GOVERNOR KEMP TO HEADLINE GAC ANNUAL MEETING NEXT WEEK
The 2021 GAC Annual Meeting will be held virtually Wednesday, March 24th at 9 am. We are excited to announce Governor Brian Kemp as the keynote speaker for the meeting! Like our in-person meeting, there will be a short business portion after our speaker. 

The event will be free to GAC members and guests, however, you will need to pre-register in order to receive the virtual meeting link. Please click the link below to register. Additional details and links will be sent closer to the meeting. If you are interested in sponsoring the 2021 Annual Meeting, contact Maggie Wooten at mwooten@ga-agribusiness.org.
Thank You to our 2021 Annual Meeting Sponsors!
AGRICULTURE AD VALOREM ISSUE PASSED THROUGH SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE
Chairman Sam Watson’s House Bill 498 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. Watson explained the need for the legislation to the Senators and the bill was passed onto the rules committee after several questions from the committee.

This legislation aims to align the Georgia Code with the intent of the legislature 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 qualifying entities that qualify separately to consolidate or merge in order to bear the costs of the extremely capital-intensive industry that is agribusiness.

There is plenty of work still to be done because of the requirement of 2/3 vote in both chambers as well as a statewide referendum on the 2022 ballot.
USITC ORDERS DUTIES ON PHOSPHATE FERTILIZER IMPORTS
The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Thursday that U.S. phosphate fertilizer companies are “materially injured” by imports from Morocco and Russia, a decision that assures the Commerce Department will begin levying steep duties.

The USITC vote was 4-1 in favor of the countervailing duties. The U.S. Department of Commerce will issue the duty orders on phosphate fertilizers for at least five years. The rates for such imports are expected to be approximately 20% for Moroccan producer OCP, 9% for Russian producer PhosAgro, 47% for Russian producer EuroChem and 17% for all other Russian producers, according to a Mosaic news release.

“We believe countervailing duties on these imports will have a negative impact on the availability of phosphate fertilizer in the United States and, in turn, adversely affect crop production and farmer livelihoods,” American Soybean Association President Kevin Scott said recently in a statement after several farm groups filed comments with the ITC.

The U.S. imported about $730 million worth of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco and $300 million from Russia in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
SENATE AG COMMITTEE HEARS FARMERS MARKET BILL
House Bill 676 by Chairwoman Penny Houston was heard in the Senate Ag Committee meeting this week and aims to address funding and administrative concerns of the multiple state own farmers markets throughout Georgia. Commissioner Gary Black offered his support for the work the legislators are doing to solve the issues faced at the markets and committed to continuing to work with Chairman Houston, Chairman Walker, and others to find the appropriate solutions for the markets and the Department. Several other details were discussed including forming a subcommittee to dive deeper into the issue.

This bill is of high importance to GAC as it will impact several members that operate from state owned farmers markets as well as many other members that utilize these markets to sell their fresh fruits and vegetables during peak harvest seasons. We will continue to stay engaged with legislators and the Department of Ag as this legislation develops further.
TIME CHANGE LEGISLATION REMAINS ALIVE
Both the House and the Senate have passed legislation pertaining to the state staying on one time all year versus springing forward and falling backwards as it currently does. Although the issue has been up for debate since the creation of daylight savings, federal law prohibits states from only observing daylight savings year-round. This means that if the legislature decided to move the state to only one time, it would have to be standard time. Legislation aimed at this issue is brought up almost every year, and this year is no different.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 100 by Senator Ben Watson, which would make Georgia the third state to end the observance of daylight savings time. This bill passed with bipartisan support in the senate chamber and was sent over to the house. The bill was committed to the State Planning and Community Affairs committee where it passed by committee substitute on Thursday.

The second bill is House Bill 44 by Representative Wes Cantrell. This bill aims to let Georgia stay on daylight savings time permanently only if congress decides to allow for states to recognize it year-round. The legislation passed the House chamber by a large margin and was sent over to the senate.

After passing through each respective chamber, both pieces of legislation were amended in committee to swap the language with the other. This means that SB 100 now contains language to only observe daylight savings time, and HB 44 contains language to observe standard time. Although the current situation is rather complicated and being heavily debated, both bills seem to have momentum and could possibly end with Georgia observing one time throughout the year. GAC and other business groups have concerns with the legislation and its impact on our industry. As Sine Die quickly approaches, we are keeping a close watch on this legislation to see what will happen in the coming days.
HOUSE AG COMMITTEE TAKES UP SENATE BILLS
Early Wednesday morning, Chairman of the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, Robert Dickey, called the committee to order to hear three bills that passed through the Senate.

The meeting started with Senate Bill 247, by Senator Lee Anderson, dealing with agricultural commodity commissions. SB 247 would modernize the way Georgia 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, the Market Bulletin, and other local options. The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Bill 195, by Senator Jeff Mullis dealing with the definition of hemp processing was presented and passed unanimously. The language was previously added to the Rep. Corbett's hemp language and is considered "cleanup language".

Senator Tyler Harper then presented SB 260 that deals with soil amendments. SB 260 suggests that no local government shall adopt a buffer or setback that exceeds more than 100 feet in width. Soil amendments are utilized by several sectors of agribusiness. The bill passed through to the Rule Committee but was later re-committed back to the Ag Committee for additional work.
USDA SEEKS INDUSTRY FEEDBACK ON CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued two notices this week seeking comments on coronavirus response grants and the food purchase program.

Regarding the coronavirus response grants, USDA AMS is requesting industry feedback on the development, coordination and implementation of grant programs to support food processing, distribution, seafood processing, farmers markets, and producers and other businesses identified in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The legislation directed USDA to use these grant funds to help businesses respond to coronavirus, including for measures to protect workers against COVID-19.

On the food purchase program, USDA AMS seeks comments on the development, coordination, and implementation of a food purchase and distribution program intended to provide additional aid to nonprofits serving Americans in need of nutrition assistance.

If implemented, the program will serve as a successor to the temporary food box purchase program created in April 2020 in response to the rapidly developing crisis within the food supply chain and increased joblessness due to COVID-19. Comments can be submitted on both topics through midnight ET on March 31, via an online portal.

In addition, AMS will host two listening sessions: one for feedback on the coronavirus response grants on March 19 at 2:00 PM ET and another on March 22 at 2:00 PM ET to provide groups and individuals an opportunity to share their views on how USDA can best serve the industry through the programs. Registration is required for both listening sessions, click here for more information and registration.
QUALIFIED TIMBERLAND PROPERTIES BILL MOVES FORWARD
Rep. Steven Meeks presented House Bill 282 to the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. The bill seeks to ensure legislative intent is adhered to in the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) rulemaking process for the Qualified Timberland Properties (QTP) Program so that forest landowners across the state can reap the full benefits of the program as intended. The QTP program provides forest landowners with another ad valorem tax enrollment option in addition to CUVA and FLPA that seeks to recognize forest landowners for the benefits their lands provide to all 10 million Georgians. HB 282 passed in the committee unanimously and now heads to the Rules Committee.
RESIDENTIAL BURN PERMIT BILL PASSES HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
Senate Bill 119, by Senator Tyler Harper, would allow people to burn yard waste without obtaining a permit. Prior to the burning, the forest ranger of the county should be notified of the time and location of the burn or to an employee of the forestry unit. Unless there is a local ordinance that says otherwise or the EPA has a burn restriction, people will not be required to obtain a permit. The burn must be 50 feet away from any structure and 25 feet away from any woodlands to follow the guidelines of SB 119.  
BILLS OF INTEREST

SENATE BILLS THAT CROSSED OVER

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 Senate and now assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.

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. 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." Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

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 House Committee on State Planning & Community Affairs.

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.

SB 119: Sen. Harper - Relates to permits required for burning woods, lands, marshes, or other flammable vegetation. Passed through the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment.

SB 195: Rep. 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 Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee

SB 222: Sen. Summers - A bill to designate the pecan as the official state nut. Assigned to the House Committee on State Planning and Community Affairs.

SB 247: Rep. 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. Pass through the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
 
SB 260: Rep. 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 Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.


HOUSE BILLS THAT CROSSED

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 House and assigned to Senate Government Oversight Committee

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 now assigned to Senate Science and Technology Committee.
 
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. Passed through the House.
 
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, now assigned to Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

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
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
KAKEGA LLC
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 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 House, assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

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 passed through the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee

HB 498: Rep. Watson - 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 assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee
HB 647: Rep. Smith - HB 647 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 - 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 assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee

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
GAC DIRECTORY ADVERTISEMENT OPPORTUNITIES
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.
THERE IS STILL TIME
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!
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We're here to help you!
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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.
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