Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
Volume 31, No. 12 Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. March 25, 2022
Only five days remain of the 2022 Legislative Session. Lawmakers are headed home for the weekend knowing next week will be a long haul to get bills across the finish line before Sine Die. Several GAC priorities are still in need of a final vote, including the Freedom to Farm Bill, HB 1150.

The Senate took up the FY 23 Budget today and it now heads to a conference committee to work out the differences with the House version.

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 11CLICK HERE.
On Monday, the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee took public testimony on HB 1150. This meeting marked the second time that the “Freedom to Farm Act” was presented in front of the committee. GAC President, Will Bentley, was among those who testified in the committee in favor of the legislation. 

GAC and other supporters of the legislation were able to address legislative concerns as well as some of the misinformation that has been sent out from activist groups. We expect that the bill will be called for a committee vote early next week. Chairman Larry Walker, III will be carrying the bill in the Senate.

Additional conversations lead us to believe that HB 1150 will have an amendment included that will expand the timeframe for neighbors and landowners to review new operations for 2 years after commencement. The amendment should not have a large negative impact on existing farms and facilities that have already been established and will offer a compromise that may help us get final passage in the Senate. However, any amendment in the Senate will trigger the need for the legislation to be “agreed” upon by the House which adds an additional step to the process that is quickly running out of time.

Your support and calls to your State Senator are needed to help us get this important bill over the finish line in the final days of session.
AgGeorgia Farm Credit Distributing Over $13 Million in Dividends to Members; First Year of “All Cash” Refunds

Perry, Ga. (March 22, 2022) Press Release – AgGeorgia Farm Credit has announced that dividends totaling $13,068,082 have been declared by its board of directors, with checks anticipated to be delivered to members’ mailboxes the first week of April. All of the distribution is in cash, as opposed to prior years where refunds were divided between cash and surplus to be paid years later.

“When the decision was made to move to all-cash dividends last year, we certainly couldn’t have contemplated the current inflationary economic landscape,” said CEO Rob Crain. “However, I am certainly glad we made the change. Given the impact elevated input costs have on our members, I am elated that AgGeorgia’s solid financial position affords us the unique opportunity to provide a welcome offset by putting more money in our borrowers’ pockets at a very opportune time.”

“I always enjoy when we issue Patronage Refunds, because it’s the best way we can show our borrowers they truly are the owners of the business,” said Jack Bentley, Chairman of the AgGeorgia Farm Credit Board of Directors. “Our mission is to improve the lives of Georgia’s farmers, families, and rural communities, and our board recognizes that returning profits to our borrowers is key in accomplishing that goal.”

The refund, from 2021 earnings, lowers the average member’s stated rate by 1.30%. This marks the 34th consecutive year the cooperative has returned profits to members through the Patronage Refund Program, with over $417 million in cash being paid out since 1988.

About AgGeorgia Farm Credit AgGeorgia Farm Credit is an agricultural lending cooperative owned by over 5,000 member-borrowers, with a mission to improve the lives of Georgia’s farmers, families and rural communities. AgGeorgia provides farm loans for land, equipment, livestock and production; rural home mortgages, and services such as crop insurance and leasing. AgGeorgia Farm Credit has 19 branches serving 79 counties in Georgia. It is part of the national Farm Credit System, a network of financial cooperatives established in 1916 to provide a dependable source of credit to farmers and rural America. For more information, visit www.aggeorgia.com
State FSA Director, Arthur Tripp was present for the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday morning. Director Tripp broke down all of the offerings that FSA has for both rural and urban farms and communities. Legislators were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how the agency can assist their constituents.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil Subcommittee that is tasked with taking on the issue of metal theft met twice this week. SB 591 is a measure that aims to allow for cash payments when it comes to the recycling of scrap metals. While initially there were many concerns about the changes, the substitute legislation that entered the subcommittee struck more of a balance in an effort to gain support.

During the meeting, it was brought up that there were more concerns in regards to civil asset forfeiture and the penalties associated with the metal theft in general. Although the bill had previously been vetted and carefully drafted, it was completely changed by the time the subcommittee took a vote on Thursday. 

The new committee substitute still addresses the cash payments portion, but completely strikes out the criminal statute to be addressed separately. The committee substitute now will move into the full committee where it will presumably be taken up early next week. 
HB 1175 was referred to a Senate Agriculture Subcommittee last week and was heard on Tuesday. The meeting allowed for public testimony, where GAC and other organizations testified in support of the measure. Much like many of the bills that are racing for a vote before Sine Die, this legislation has been amended numerous times in order to satisfy all parties involved. 

The primary opposition to this bill was found within the Department of Public Health where they raised concerns for possible food borne illness within the product. While we understand that there are risks associated with the consumption of raw milk, the goal of the legislation is to increase testing of the product and regulation of the sale of raw milk to greatly reduce those risks. 

This legislation passed unanimously out of the subcommittee and was heard in the full committee on Thursday. HB 1175 was tabled in the committee in order to amend the legislation further and will be voted on at the next Senate Ag meeting on Monday.
Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Meeting Report
Jay Ivey, GAC Legislative Intern

The Senate Agriculture and Consumer affairs met on Thursday, March 24, in a jam packed meeting. Our legislatures are working hard to get bills and resolutions passed as we draw closer to the end of session. Several bills were discussed and the committee voted to make an appointment to the Agricultural Commodity Commission.

This meeting discussed HB 1443, by Representative Gaines, focused on mobile food trucks. This bill will allow for mobile food truck owners to only be required to have an inspection permit in the county in which they are registered. This single inspection permit can then be used in other counties throughout Georgia. This bill was passed unanimously out of this committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.

HB 1384, by Representative Jenkins, was passed in this committee meeting. This bill will allow for people with small sawmills to saw their own lumber for uninhabited structures for both residential and agriculture use. This lumber will not be graded, however individuals wishing to use this lumber will still have to follow their local zoning laws and ordinances. This bill will now head to the Senate Rules Committee.

The committee also voted to reappoint Russ Moon to the Agricultural Commodity Commission. Russ Moon is a knowledgeable and passionate voice in the Georgia agricultural community. GAC congratulates Russ Moon on his reappointment and wishes him success as he works hard for our state’s largest industry.
The full Senate voted unanimously Wednesday in support of HB 343by Representative Trey Rhodes, which seeks to deter trespassing and hunting without permission by increasing penalties for repeat offenders. The legislation increases penalties for hunting without permission to $975 for the first offense, $2000 for the second offense and $3000 for the third offense. The bill will now require an “agree” vote by the House on the Senate’s amended version.
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.

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.
UGA Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication
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