Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
Volume 31, No. 11 Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. March 18, 2022
Crossover Day came and went Tuesday. We now have a clearer picture of what we will spend the final weeks working on, or in some cases, what we will be working against.

Legislators met late into the night on Tuesday and the pace has not slowed down since. After today's work, we will have crossed off 31 legislative days. Lawmakers will be back in Atlanta on Monday for four more official days and one committee workday next week.

The Governor put his signature on the FY 22 Supplemental budget as Georgia Senators worked on their version of the FY 23 budget. We'll have more coverage on that as the numbers work their way through Senate sub-committees in the coming days.

Continue to read below as we expand upon the week's occurrences.

**Inside Agriculture is a newsletter and member benefit for GAC members that highlights the action Under the Gold Dome each week throughout the legislative session. The updates are meant to keep GAC members informed, connected, and engaged in the legislative process. Please share with other leaders within your business that may find these updates helpful.**
We are excited to extend our partnership with Southeast AgNet as they help spread the word on what is happening under the Gold Dome. This is a great tool to get a quick snapshot of the week's activities throughout the session. For a recap of week 10CLICK HERE.
We are pleased to announce that our current legislative intern, Jay Ivey, has been selected to serve in Congressman Sanford Bishop's Washington, D.C. office as a UGA Ag Fellow this summer. Jay is set to graduate this May from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Agricultural Communications. Immediately following graduation Jay will partake in the 12-week congressional fellowship and live in UGA’s “Delta House” on Capitol Hill. 

This fellowship will allow Jay to work closely with congressional staff and gain valuable experience on federal ag policy. Congressman Bishop serves on the House Committee on Appropriations and as the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Jay stated, “through my internship this semester with GAC, I have been able to confirm and further develop my interest in agricultural policy. I am looking forward to observing and learning about policy on the federal level with this fellowship. I am thankful for the experiential learning opportunities that the College of Agriculture and donors have given to students like myself”.

The Georgia Agribusiness Council has been a long-time supporter of the Ag Fellowship program through UGA CAES. GAC President Will Bentley noted, "Jay has been a wonderful addition to the GAC legislative team during the 2022 session. His professionalism and willingness to do anything that is needed to further our efforts has been much appreciated. Jay's hard work has earned himself another great opportunity to learn about agriculture policy and we could not be prouder that he will carry on the great tradition of GAC interns that have gone on to serve in Washington, D.C. through this program."

The GAC "Gene Sutherland Legislative Internship" is a program designed to give upperclassman in the UGA College of Ag who are interested in agriculture policy an opportunity to learn more about how policy is developed and implemented on the state level.
The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee met twice this week. The first meeting was on Monday, where the Freedom to Farm Act was heard for the first time since passing through the House. House Agriculture Chairman, Robert Dickey, presented the bill with an emphasis on protecting and preserving our state’s number one industry. While there were some questions from a couple of the committee members, the overall appetite of the committee seemed positive and supportive of the bill. 
Chairman Larry Walker III announced that the Freedom to Farm bill will be heard again this upcoming Monday where the floor will be open to public testimony.

Environmental activist groups have been bombarding legislators with false and misleading information about the bill. We urge that you reach out to your State Senator and ask that they support HB 1150 as it works through the Senate. Note that this bill will support further peace of mind for farms and agribusinesses that are operating legally and properly within agriculturally zoned areas against frivolous lawsuits from developers and activist groups. Importantly, the bill does not address or impact state or federal environmental rules and regulations as these opposition groups have falsely claimed.
The Georgia State Senate passed a measure to suspend the state fuel tax on Thursday, in an effort to lower gas prices. The bill will remove the 29.1 cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax through May 31. Based on previous years’ collections, the move would save drivers more than $300 million in taxes. 

With gas prices averaging over $4.00 per gallon for most areas of the state, this move is meant to alleviate at least some small part of that cost for citizens. Governor Brian Kemp has vowed to sign this bill as soon as it reached his desk to help the hard-working Georgians that have been hit hard by the ever-rising cost of fuel.
On Tuesday, the Senate took a vote on SB 591, which deals with metal recyclers and cash payments to those that bring in scrap metal to their businesses. Similar to an effort that was supported by GAC several years ago to curb theft of high value metal in equipment, vehicles, and building materials, this legislation has been referred to by many groups as the “metal theft” bill. This legislation will allow recyclers to pay cash for metal that has a value of less than $100. GAC and others weighed in with the bill's sponsor to express our early concerns and the bill now excludes cash payments for hot items of high value such as catalytic converters and copper wire.

This bill passed out of the Senate and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
On Crossover Day, the House voted on HB 997, timber equipment exemptions, where the measure was passed by a unanimous vote. This bill falls in line with HB 498 that GAC pushed last year to expand property tax exemptions for agricultural equipment and certain farm products, however it is solely focused on capturing timber equipment and timber products. 

We believe that this is a step in the right direction for the agribusiness and forestry climate within our state. This legislation is now in the Senate Finance Committee and if it passes through, will be a ballot question in the upcoming elections in the fall. 
As usual, Crossover Day consisted of dozens of bills trying to race across the finish lines of their respective chamber. While some controversial bills had already been addressed and passed, Legislative Day 28 always has a way of bringing up some delicate issues. Here is a rundown of some of the notable debates that occurred on Tuesday that are not directly related to normal agribusiness interest:

Pay Raises for Lawmaker
The House passed a resolution that would allow for a salary increase for legislators. Due to the issue requiring a constitutional amendment, this will be left up to the citizens to vote on in the upcoming election cycle in the form of a ballot question.

Currently, lawmakers make around $17,300 with a $5,000 state employee raise approved in the new budget. As one could imagine, it is a very touchy subject when a legislator introduces a bill to give themselves a raise. If the voters vote in favor of the measure it would mean that legislators would be paid 60% of the median household income in the state (around $36,000 per year), beginning in 2025. GAC knows how hard these legislators work on behalf of the state. Though the job is considered "part-time", many legislators put in well over 40 hours per week throughout the entire year to represent their districts effectively.

Medical Cannabis 
Since the legislature approved medical cannabis and the licenses were issued, there have been numerous questions concerning the system. This sparked the drafting of two pieces of legislation, HB 1425 and SB 609, which were both voted through their respective chambers on Tuesday. 

House Bill 1425 throws away the six licenses already granted to companies and starts the process over completely. Senate Bill 609 pushes forward with the current process but stipulates that six licenses be granted by the end of May. But both solutions could still face litigation either by companies who were granted the initial licenses or those who were denied.

“Safe Communities Act”
The state Senate approved SB 171 that would add stiffer penalties for people convicted of certain crimes during protests. As we have seen in the last couple of years, protesting can be considered many different things by many different people. This legislation aims to crackdown on the protests of the less peaceful variety, while still allowing for lawful assembly. 

Election Bill
The legislature addressed a large number of election bills last year and got to revisit the issue on Tuesday with HB 1464. This 39-page election bill that makes changes to behind-the-scenes voting rules.

The crux of the bill restricts outside grant funding for county offices, adds more chain of custody requirements to the elections process and allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to directly investigate election law violations.
The Georgia Agribusiness Council has chosen to partner with Naylor Association Solutions on the 2022 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.
Jay Ivey, GAC Legislative Intern
The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee met again on Thursday, March 17. This meeting discussed several bills, created several subcommittees, and had a special guest drop in.

Senate Bill 578, by Senator Larry Walker III, was introduced for discussion purposes only. This Bill relates to the regulation of home kitchen operations that serve food for profit. This bill will not be passed this year since crossover occurred this past Tuesday; however, the introduction of this bill allows for valuable discussions to begin around the trending home kitchen operations topic.  

In other action, Senator Lee Anderson was assigned as the chairman for a subcommittee to work on HB 1175, “Georgia Raw Dairy Act.” Senator Jackson and Summers will serve on this subcommittee.  

There was a second subcommittee created to work on HB 1384, which deals with ungraded lumber. Senator Goodman will be the chairman and Senators Burns and Rahman will serve on this subcommittee.

During the committee meeting, former Senator, Governor, and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue stopped by to say hello and was introduced by his State Senator. Governor Perdue has recently been named the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia and will begin that work officially in April.

SB 303: Sen. Mullis – To provide for standards for commercial breeders. To provide for facilities. To provide for care of dogs. To provide for breeding of dogs.This bill was assigned to the Senate Ag and Consumer Affairs committee.

SB 379: Sen. Strickland - Would establish a high demand career initiative program that would seek to assist several key industry sectors in the state. This bill would expand and create several opportunities for small and medium sized businesses to benefit from a ready workforce upon graduation. This bill passed through the Senate and has now been sent to the House Higher Education Committee.

SB 396: Sen. Goodman - relating to the Georgia State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to rename such program the Georgia Grown Farm to Food Bank Program (F2FB); to require food procured pursuant to such program be Georgia grown, to identify Georgia grown farmers who supplied food. Crossed over from Senate and passed House Ag Committee.

SB 474: Sen. Summers - to provide for a state-wide exemption from all ad valorem taxes for aircraft used for the aerial application of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, seeds, or other agricultural products; to provide for a referendum. This bill first failed to be passed through the Senate but was finally passed and adopted by substitute on Crossover Day.

SB 481: Sen. Jackson - Georgia Hemp Farming Act," so as to allow persons convicted of any misdemeanor or a felony not related to a state or federally Georgia Hemp Farming Act," so as to allow persons convicted of any misdemeanor or a felony not related to a state or federally controlled substance within ten years of the application date to grow industrial hemp. This bill is currently in the Senate Ag Committee and will have one final opportunity for the Senate to debate and amend it before the Speaker orders a vote on final passage.

SB 512: Sen. Payne - relating to gambling, to revise provisions relative to dogfighting; to prohibit animal fighting; to prohibit possession or sale of animal-fighting related objects; to provide for punishment, limitation of ownership. GAC is engaged with the author of this bill to ensure that the broad language used for "animals" is more narrowly defined so that unintended agriculture definitions are not change by this legislation. This bill was passed by the Senate on Crossover Day.

SB 537: Rep. Jones II - A Bill to be entitled an Act to amend Title 2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to agriculture, so as enact the "Food Insecurity Eradication Act"; to provide a short title; to provide for definitions; to create the Georgia Food Security Advisory Council. This bill was passed by the Senate on Crossover Day.

SB 578: Sen. Walker - to authorize the operation, licensure, inspection, labeling requirements, enforcement, and regulation of home kitchen operations. This bill is currently in the Senate Ag Committee.

SB 591: Sen. Hatchett - Relating to secondary metals recyclers, so as to provide that it shall be illegal for certain persons to purchase, possess, obtain, or sell or attempt to purchase, possess, obtain, or sell used, detached catalytic converters, used utility wire, or used communications copper. Allow for cash payments under $100 value. This bill was passed in the Senate on Crossover Day.

SB 604: Sen. Mullis - To provide for the State Board of Veterinary Medicine to be an independent state agency attached to the Department of Agriculture for administrative purposes only. To provide for contracting with the Department of Agriculture for licensing services. This bill is currently in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

HB 343: Rep. Rhodes - relating to requirement of permission to hunt on lands of another, written permission, enforcement, and immunity of landowner from civil liability. This bill passed through the House and has now been sent to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

HB 496: Rep. Burchett - Relating to permits for vehicles and loads of excess weight and dimensions. To allow for an increase in gross vehicle weight to 90,000lbs for agriculture and timber products. This Bill is currently in the House Transportation Committee.

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 in 2021 and will be voted on by referendum in the 2022 election.

HB 500: Rep. Burchett - This bill will provide a second round of funding and period for applications relating to the "Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act." This will also increase the application fee and provide an annual maintenance fee. This bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.

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 997: Rep. Watson - To provide
 for a state-wide exemption from all ad valorem taxes for timber equipment and timber products held by timber producers; to provide for a referendum. This bill was passed in the House.
HB 1000: Rep. Gunter -to provide an exception for inoculation of canines and felines against rabies for animals for which such vaccine would compromise the animal's health or if it is medically unnecessary. We will continue to keep an eye on the bill, but there seems to be very little additional interest in moving the bill forward after a hearing was held in which GVMA expressed concerns with the bill. This bill is currently in the House Ag committee.

HB 1147: Rep. Rhodes - To authorize the hunting and trapping of raccoons and opossum year round. Passed through House. This Bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

HB 1148: Rep. Rhodes - relating to possession of cervid carcasses, to amend which cervid parts may be brought in from outside of Georgia; to authorize the Department of Natural Resources to restrict the movement or transport of cervid carcasses in prevention of Chronic Wasting Disease. This Bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

HB 1150: Rep. Dickey - relating to treatment of agricultural facilities and operations and forest land as nuisances, and to limit the circumstances under which agricultural facilities and operations may be sued for a nuisance, 
relating to treatment of agricultural facilities and operations and forest land as nuisances, so as to provide for legislative intent; to remove a definition; to limit the circumstances under which agricultural facilities and operations may be sued for a nuisance. This Bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

HB 1152: Rep. Mainor - relating to the "Fair Business Practices Act of 1975," so as to require merchants to accept cash for purchases. This Bill passed out of the House Agriculture committee and heads to the rules committee.

HB 1175: Rep. Pirkle - relating to standards, labeling, and adulteration of food, to authorize and regulate the production, handling, transporting, and sale of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption. To provide standards for safety, cleanliness, and health for such products and animals producing them. To authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to enforce such standards. This Bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

HB 1176: Rep. Pirkle - to require a manufacturer to provide certain items necessary for diagnostic, maintenance, or repair services on digital products. Would also require a manufacturer to release sensitive proprietary information and owner data that could be harmful. Bill heard in House Ag Committee.

HB 1292: Rep. Jasperse. This bill would prohibit any student who is participating in a 4-H sponsored activity or program from being counted as absent at school. This bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

HB 1301: Rep. Hogan. The Landscape Equipment and Agricultural Fairness (LEAF) Act. This preemption bill establishes that there shall be no local prohibition or regulation of the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers during hours allowed for all power equipment. Passed out of House Governmental Affairs committee and heads to the rules committee.

HB 1303: Rep. Dickey - This bill would transition a pilot program that has been in place for elementary agricultural education to an ongoing and permanent program. It would also require schools to hire an elementary agricultural education teacher to administer the program. This bill passed through the House and has now been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

HB 1309: Rep. Thomas - Georgia Urban Farming Youth Initiative Act, HB 1309 would create a pilot program through UGA's Cooperative Extension Service to promote farming and the efficient use of land in urban counties (with a population of 150,000+); educate program participants on all aspects of farming in an urban environment and encourage other members of the community to begin and to continue farming; and provide a sufficient understanding of farming operations. This bill is currently in the House Agriculture Committee.

HB 1376: Rep. Moore - relating to food service establishments, to authorize food service establishments to serve patrons' pet dogs within designated outdoor areas of the establishment. This bill passed out of the House Agriculture committee and heads to the rules committee.

HB 1384: Rep. Jenkins - as to require the department to amend the Georgia state minimum standard codes to authorize certain uses of ungraded lumber. This bill was passed and adopted by the House.

HB 1450: Rep. Rich - relating to dogs, so as to provide protections for dogs kept outdoors. To provide for standards of care; to provide for exceptions; to provide for penalties. This bill is currently in the House Agriculture Committee

HB 1479: Rep. Corbett - A bill to provide that the State Board of Registration for Foresters is an independent state agency attached to the State Forestry Commission for administrative purposes only; to require confirmation of the Senate for members of the State Board of Registration for Foresters appointed by the Governor; to authorize the board to issue cease and desist orders and issue additional penalties for violations. This bill was passed in the House.

HB 1496: Rep. Gullett - Relating to livestock running at large, so as to authorize a sheriff impounding livestock running at large to donate the livestock to an animal rescue organization or private individual instead of selling it at auction or killing it. This bill was passed in the house.

HB 1532: Rep. Ridley - Relating to hemp farming. To provide for license and permit fees. To provide for retail hemp food establishment licenses and wholesale hemp food establishment licenses. This bill is currently in the House Agriculture Committee.

HB 1548: Rep. Leverett - Relating to soil amendments, so as to prohibit application of soil amendments for any purpose other than to foster the growth of a crop. This bill is currently in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

HR 594: Rep. Smith - A RESOLUTION proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Georgia so as to provide that county and municipal governing authorities shall be authorized to grant temporary tax relief to properties severely damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster and located within a nationally declared disaster area. The resolution was passed in the house.
Ag Technologies dba Vantage Southeast
Brooksco Dairy LLC
Bulloch Gin Inc.
Carroll EMC
DeWitt Produce Co., Inc.
Docia Farms Partnership
Embry Farm Service
Georgia Cotton Commission
Georgia Development Authority
Georgia Young Farmers Association
Greg Sikes Farm, LLC
Hattaway Farms Ptr.
International Forest Co., Inc.
Kelley Manufacturing Co.
LG Herndon Jr. Farms Inc.
Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC
Mercier Orchards
Mixon Seed Services Inc.
Mobley Greenhouses Inc.
Nut Tree Pecan Nursery
Southern Woods Plantation, Inc.
Striplings General Store
Suttons Mill LLC
The Turfgrass Group, Inc.
TriEst Ag Group, Inc.
USA Poultry & Egg Export Council
WDairy LLC
AgSouth Services, Inc.
Barrington Dairy, LLC
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
BCT Gin Co. Inc.
Boston Gin Co.
Broken Antler Farms
Burriss Law Group, LLC
Circle C Farms Inc.
CLW Harvesting LLC
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co.
Cotton Partners LLC
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Duvall Livestock Market, LP
Emanuel Peanut & Grain LLC
GA Assoc. of Conservation Districts
GA Assoc. of County Agricultural Agents
Georgia Christmas Tree Association
Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service, Inc.
Georgia Food Bank Association Inc.
Georgia Peach Council
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Georgia Vocational Ag Teacher Association
Georgia Women in Agriculture Association Inc.
Hazel Creek Cider, Inc. / Yearwood Farms, Inc.
Hillside Orchard Farms Inc.
Hulsey Farm Services
Israel Farm Supply, Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.
Lenox Peanut Company
Moultrie Colquitt County Development Authority
Northeast Georgia Livestock
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Omega Farms
P.G.C. Farms
Patrick Family Farms, LLC
Peebles Timber, Inc./ Longleaf LLC / Peebles Land LLLP
Quality Gin, Inc.
RAJ Farms Inc.
Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc
Samara Plantation LLC
Shealy Farms, Inc.
Shiloh Farms
Southeastern Sod, Inc.
Southern AGCOM Inc.
Southern Crop Production Association
Southern Livestock
Southern Seed Company, Inc.
Southern Specialty Equipment
Sweet Corn Co-Op
Tri-County Gin, Inc.
Vidalia Onion Business Council
Wild Ridge LLC
Williams Produce, Inc.

Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!
The 2022 GAC Star Sponsor program registration is now underway and its off to a good 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 2022 Star Sponsor registration information and email Jill Hansard or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830. Thank you!
In a policy environment that is rapidly changing, supporting state political leaders that understand and support Agribusiness has never been more important than it is today.

The Georgia Agribusiness Council was created for the purpose of advocating for agricultural interests in the legislative and regulatory arenas. This lofty initiative continues to get harder and harder each election cycle. In our efforts to advance these activities, the Council formed the Georgia AgPAC several years ago that utilizes member's donations to:

* Financially support the campaigns of political candidates who are supportive of agriculture;
* Educating elected officials and key decision makers on issues important to agribusiness;

* Advocacy of issues that advance our industry and rural communities

We ask for your financial support so that we can continue to fight on behalf of Georgia agribusiness interests. Campaign contributions from Georgia AgPAC is restricted to non-federal candidates in races for legislative and statewide offices. Georgia AgPAC needs your contribution to advance this initiative. 

Your corporate or personal commitment will help us prepare today. All donations are welcome. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 or click here to download the donation form to be a partner in this effort. 
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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