Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members

Volume 33, No. 10 Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. March 17, 2023

Week 10 of the Legislative Session and Day 35 have now passed by with many bills of impact to agriculture still being worked on. The week was packed with negotiations behind the scenes and dozens of committee meetings as legislators can now feel the pressure of Sine Die looming.

Representative Chas Cannon's Citrus Commodity Commission bill has been selected for Senate floor debate early next week by the Senate Rules Committee with a little help from his fellow Moultrie resident, Sen. Sam Watson. Most other ag related bills are still working through the committee process and will most likely see floor debate on Days 39 or 40 of the session.

A full recap of the week's action is available below.

**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 the session, Click Here.


House Bill 189 was up for discussion on Tuesday in the Senate Committee on Transportation. Representative Meeks’ bill allowing an increase in the allowable weight variance on vehicles or loads hauling certain products has been garnering a lot of attention underneath the Gold Dome in recent weeks. The committee held a "hearing only" this week, and many familiar faces were in the room to testify. GAC President Will Bentley was one of those who took the time to speak to the economic impact and importance of the legislation as it pertains to agribusinesses across the state. Andres Villegas, with the Georgia Forestry Association, also spoke in favor of the bill, and he spoke on the positive impacts it would have on the forestry industry specifically. Also in attendance was, DOT Commissioner Russel McMurray, to speak in opposition to the bill. Many others also chimed in on the legislation on both sides of the issue.

Within the meeting, a substitute was presented to the committee, which would essentially change it back to the original Senate version of the bill that did not get a vote earlier in the session. The basic difference in the language is that it adds a few more industries that would be covered under the new variance. This new substitute is of concern, but GAC and other members of the coalition in support of the bill are aiming to keep the original House version, which targets ag and forestry products only, to hopefully simplify the process moving forward. Both versions of the bill aim for an increase in the allowable variance that would move the allowable weights to 88,000 from the current 85,000 lbs.

There was no action taken on the bill this week in the Senate Transportation Committee and further debate is expected next week.


The Senate Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee met this week to hold a hearing on HB 528 and to vote on HB 132 and HB 545.

House Bill 528 is a bill that requires subscriptions that consumers can sign up for online to be able to cancel them online, instead of having to call or go in person. This legislation also requires companies to send notifications when they will be charging the card on file to pay for subscriptions. HB 528 has a proposed amendment that will add protections to restaurants from third party food delivery services in efforts to require delivery service providers to have an in-writing agreement before they are able to use a food establishment’s name, image, and likeness on their respective app.

House Bill 545, Sponsored by Representative Chas Cannon, creating the Agricultural Commodity Commission on Citrus Fruits passed through the committee unanimously and went on to rules and will be on the Senate floor Monday.

House Bill 132 was the final bill on the agenda and ultimately passed through the committee. This bill allows the use of ungraded lumber to be used in the building of uninhabited buildings. The committee met again later in the week to hear and vote on HB. 132, and the committee voted in favor of the bill.


The House Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee held hearings on several bills this week. Senator Brandon Beach’s SB 132, the “foreign owned ag land” bill, would prohibit nonresident aliens that are subject of certain foreign governments from possessing any agricultural land or land within a 25-mile radius of a military base. Senator Beach assured the committee that this bill is needed to protect Georgia agriculture and ensure stability for Georgia’s food supply. GAC has been actively engaged on this bill and other similar bills to make sure that the language that makes it to the House floor protects important ag land without unintended consequences for several important agricultural research centers. Rep. Clay Pirkle is expected to take up the measure in the House and has been involved with perfecting the language throughout the session.

Lastly, the committee heard Senate Bill 177, the Food Insecurity Eradication Act. The Georgia Food Industry Association and Science for Georgia both had representatives in attendance to speak in favor of SB 177, and many members of the committee had positive remarks to give to the bill’s author. The committee will likely hold a vote on SB. 177 in its upcoming meeting. 


Senate Bill 220 by Chairman Russ Goodman made its way through the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday afternoon. This Legislation establishes the Georgia Farmland Conservation Fund and Georgia Farmland Advisory Council made up of stakeholders across the state including the Georgia Agribusiness Council and Georgia Farm Bureau presidents and states that the Commissioner of Agriculture will chair the council.

This fund is being established to protect Georgia’s farmland by incentivizing families who voluntarily choose to protect their farmland in perpetuity. It also looks to provide relief for families who are under developmental pressure and give them another option to maintain their family farms. Twenty-one other states have similar programs in place, but Chairman Goodman is modelling his bill after legislation in Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. The council will review and approve award grants and the rules and regulations given to them by the GDA.

We look forward to being a part of this process as the bill continues to move and believe that it will be a good option for landowners to keep their land in production for future generations.


AGHON recently held their Spring BBQ where they honored GAC board member and past interim president, Dr. John McKissick, with their AGHON Award. The award came on the 50th anniversary of Dr. McKissick's membership in the organization and was given to recognize his dedication and work within the ag industry.

GAC President, Will Bentley, was also inducted as an Honorary member of the organization during the meeting. Bentley was named along with other honorary members including Rep. Ric Jasperse, Dr. Brian Fairchild, and Dr. Timothy Foutz.

AGHON is the highest honor a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, the College of Veterinary Medicine, or the College of Engineering may attain while at the University of Georgia. The group also awards honorary membership to professionals who have worked within these industries.


Join us for our First Annual Agribusiness Clay Shoot on Friday, April 28th at the Meadows Clay Sports in Forysth, GA. We are looking forward to a great day outdoors! To be a Team Sponsor or a Station Sponsor please click on the link below. THANK YOU to the below Sponsors for the continued support to GAC!




SB 2 - Sen. Greg Dolezal

A bill to extend the COVID-19 liability protections for businesses permanently. These protections were first put in place during the COVID pandemic to release businesses from claims that their customers contracted COVID-19 at their place of business.

Status - Did not pass.

SB. 3 - Sen. John Albers

A bill that requires state departments, agencies, boards, bureaus, offices, commissions, public corporations, and authorities to assess education, experience, and training requirements for positions of employment. Specifically, to reduce the number of positions for which a four-year college degree is required.

Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on Feb. 9. Passed by the House Chamber on March 14.

SB. 22 - Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick

A bill that prohibits the purchase of, sale of, or offering samples of hemp products to anyone under the age of 18. The bill will provide rules and regulations for these offenses and any other related matters.

Status - Did not pass.

SB. 34 - Sen. Elena Parent

A bill to prohibit third-party food delivery services from committing unfair, unsafe, and unhealthy practices in the state.

Status - Did not pass.

SB. 39 - Sen. Kim Jackson

A bill to allow persons convicted of a misdemeanor, or certain felonies, to grow industrial hemp.

Status - Did not pass.

SB 60 - Sen. Bo Hatchett legislation to address concerns raised by secondary metal recyclers whose business practices are restricted in their methods of payment for deposits. Under current law, recyclers may only pay using a check, electronic funds transfer, or a voucher. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on Feb. 13. Referred to House Judiciary Non-Civil.

SB. 126 - Sen. Billy Hickman

to provide for a limitation on interchange fees charged by payment card networks for credit or debit card transactions at retailers. This legislation will have a second hearing in the Senate Banking committee. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 132 - Sen. Brandon Beach

A bill relating to agriculture, prohibits the acquisition of a possessory interest in certain land by certain nonresident aliens. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 2. Referred to the House Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee.

SB. 145 - Sen. Shawn Still

A bill to prohibit the local regulations that create differing standards for or distinguish gasoline-powered leaf blowers from similar equipment in applicable counties and municipal corporations Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on Feb. 27. House Governmental Affairs Committee favorably reported by substitute.

SB. 158 - Sen. Randy Robertson

A bill to provide an insurance premium discount or rate reduction for property owners who build a new residential or commercial property located in Georgia that better resists catastrophic windstorm events. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 6. House Insurance Committee favorably reported.

SB. 165 - Sen. Russ Goodman

A bill to provide for an allowable variance for weights and limitations upon a vehicle or load and to repeal certain exceptions which allow for excess weight limitations upon a vehicle or load. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 177 - Sen. Harold Jones

A bill to enact the "Food Insecurity Eradication Act", and to create the Georgia Food Security Advisory Council. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 6. Referred to the House Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee.

SB. 186 - Sen. Greg Dolezal

relating to liability of owners and occupiers of land generally, to limit landowner liability regarding invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 191 - Sen. Shawn Still

A bill relating to motor vehicles and traffic, to repeal provisions authorizing joinder of motor carriers and their insurance carriers in tort and contract causes of action. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 196 - Sen. Ben Watson

A bill to provide for the failure to wear a safety belt or safety restraints for children as admissible evidence in civil actions. Also, to prohibit the failure to wear a safety belt or safety restraints for children as a basis for cancellation of insurance coverage. This measure failed to pass through the committee. Status - Senate Lost.

SB. 220 - Sen. Russ Goodman

A bill to establish the Georgia Farmland Conservation Program, Georgia Farmland Conservation Fund program, and the Georgia Farmland Advisory Council. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 6. House Ways & Means Committee favorably reported.

SB. 228 - Sen. Sheikh Rahman

A bill that creates the Director of Outdoor Recreation position in the Department of Natural Resources. Status - Did not pass.


HB. 14 - Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick

A bill that provides a tax credit to employers who hire workforce-ready graduates, and the Department of Labor will establish the criteria.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 16 - Rep. Mandisha Thomas

A bill to extend the sunset provision relating to the use of sick leave to take care of immediate family members.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 26 - Rep. Mandisha Thomas

A bill to require the Department of Community Affairs to include certain indoor air quality provisions in applicable state minimum standard codes.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 31 - Rep. Debbie Buckner

A bill to dedicate the proceeds of certain hazardous waste fees to the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund.

Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 2. Referred to Senate Finance Committee.

HB. 33 - Rep. Beth Camp - A bill 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 and to provide for contracting with the Department of Agriculture for licensing and other services.

Status: Did not pass.

HB. 34 - Rep. Bruce Williamson

A bill that will expand credits allowable for purchases and acquisitions of qualified investment property for manufacturing and telecommunications facilities to include mining facilities.

Status - Did not pass.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Bagwell Insurance Group, Inc.

Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation

Georgia Electric Membership Corporation

Georgia Power Co.

Osage Farms Inc.

Premium Peanut

Southwest Georgia Farm Credit

Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission

Brooksco Dairy LLC

Carroll EMC

Color Burst

DeWitt Produce Co. Inc.

Fort Valley State University

Georgia Cotton Commission

Georgia Crop Production Alliance

GA Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association

Georgia Green Industry Association

Georgia Peanut Commission

Georgia Young Farmers Association

Green Fern Enterprises, LLC

Greg Sikes Farm, LLC

Growers Gin & Warehouse, Inc.

Growers Supply Inc.

Hattaway Farms Partnership

Hillside Orchard Farms, Inc.

J & B Irrigation Inc.

Kelley Manufacturing Co.

Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC

Mixon Seed Services Inc.

Mobley Greenhouse, Inc.

SafEnvirons, Inc.

Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition

The Turfgrass Group, Inc.

U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

USA Poultry & Egg Export Council

WDairy LLC

Woodruff & Howe Environmental Engineering, Inc.

Agri-Business Technologies, Inc.

American Peanut Shellers Association

American Peanut Trailers, LLC

Barrington Dairy, LLC

Boston Gin Co.

Broken Antler Farms

C.M. Tanner Grocery Co. Inc.

Calhoun Stockyard Hwy. 53 Inc.

Centurion Poultry Inc.

Circle C Farms Inc.

Coley Gin & Fertilizer

Cotton Partners LLC

Curry Farm Supply Inc.

Easterlin Pecan Company

EGA, Inc.

Emanuel Peanut & Grain LLC

Embry Farm Service

Feeding Georgia

Food Safety Net Services

Funston Gin Co. Inc.

Georgia 4-H Foundation

GA Assoc. of Conservation Districts

GA Assoc. of County Agricultural Agents

GA Assoc. of Professional Ag Consultants

Georgia Cattlemen's Association

Georgia Christmas Tree Association

Georgia Crop Improvement Assoc.

Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service, Inc.

Georgia FFA Association

Georgia Foundation for Agriculture

Georgia Milk Producers Inc.

Georgia Peach Council

Georgia Pecan Growers Association, Inc.

Georgia Pork Producers Association

Georgia Poultry Federation

Georgia Seed Association Inc.

Georgia Vocational Ag Teacher Association

Georgia Watermelon Association

Georgia Women in Agriculture Association Inc.

International Forest Company

Israel Farm Supply, Inc.

L. R. Land & Cattle Company, Inc.

Lenox Peanut Company

Longleaf Land LLC

Majors Electric & Mechanical Company, Inc.

Moultrie Colquitt County Development Authority

National Peanut Buying Points Assn.

Northeast Georgia Livestock

Oglethorpe Power Corporation

P.G.C. Farms

Pike Creek Turf, Inc.

Quality Gin, Inc.

Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc

Samara Plantation, LLC

Shealy Farms, Inc.

South GA Ag & Fertilizer

Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association

Southern Crop Production Association

Southern Livestock

Southern Seed Company, Inc.

Southern Specialty Equipment

Sweet Corn Co-Op

The Satsuma Company, LLC

Three Brothers Trucking, LLC

Vidalia Onion Business Council

Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!

HB. 53 - Rep. John 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. This will require a confirmation from the Senate for State Board members appointed by the Governor. This bill also gives the State Board of Registration for Foresters the ability to issue cease and desist orders and issue additional penalties for violations, and other related matters that may arise.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 71 - Rep. Darlene Taylor

A bill to prohibit the director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Natural Resources Department from issuing, modifying, or renewing any permit or accepting any bond to conduct surface mining operations on Trail Ridge for future permit applications and amendments.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 73 - Rep. Joseph Gullett

A bill to require that sellers of electrical services provide a written disclosure statement with any agreement for the sale of distributed energy generation systems or for the financing of such systems through leases or solar energy procurement agreements.

Status - Passed by House Chamber on Feb. 28. Referred to Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 78 - Rep. Kimberly Alexander

A bill to require all employers to implement paid sick leave for employees and to specify purposes for which paid sick leave may be taken and the rate at which paid sick leave accrues and to prohibit discrimination against an employee for inquiring about or using paid sick leave. 

Status - Did not pass. This bill is not expected to receive action but GAC will track as it would be of impact to our membership.

HR 96 - Rep. Noel Williams

A resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to provide for a reduction in the rate of the ad valorem tax assessment of timber at sale or harvest; to require state appropriations to each county, municipality, or school district affected by the such reduced rate of taxation; to provide for related matters; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 189 - Rep. Steven Meeks

A bill to provide for an allowable variance for weight limitations upon a vehicle or load, and to repeal conflicting laws. Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 6. Referred to Senate Transportation Committee.

HB. 246 - Rep. Martin Momtahan - A bill to prohibit China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, their citizens, and companies owned and operated by them to acquire title to the property in this state. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 260 - Rep. Kim Schofield - A bill to require all state entities to consider and report on environmental justice concerns prior to taking certain state actions and to create the Environmental Justice Commission. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 262 - Rep. Regina Lewis-Ward - A bill to establish the Office of Equity in Agriculture, and to establish and provide requirements for the Georgia Farmers Council. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 305 - Rep. Robert Dickey - A bill that creates the Georgia Farmers Market Authority, and repeals existing provisions relating to farmer's markets. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 413 - Noel Williams

A bill to provide for a second round of funding and period applications to the "Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act" Status - Did not pass.

HB. 439 - Penny Houston

A bill that establishes the Farmers' Markets Trust Fund within the state treasury. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 452 - Clay Pirkle

A bill, related to agriculture, that prohibits the acquisition of a possessory interest in certain land by certain nonresident aliens. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 458 - Clay Pirkle

A bill that prohibits the purchase, sale, or offering of samples of hemp products to any person under the age of 21. Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 6. Referred to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities.

HB. 533 - Carl Gilliard

A bill to provide for a tax credit for the cost of doing business with Georgia Grown hemp owners and suppliers. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 545 - Chas Cannon

A bill to create an Agricultural Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits. Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 2. Senate Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee favorably reported.

HB. 566 - Rep. Regina Lewis Ward

A bill to require the Commissioner of Agriculture to spend no less than five percent of the marketing and promotion budget for agricultural producers on minority or women-owned agricultural enterprises and to protect against discrimination against these groups. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 570 - Rep. Mike Cameron

A bill to establish the Healthy Food Development Program. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 583 - Leesa Hagan

A bill to authorize the production and sale of homemade food items with certain exemptions, requirements, and disclosures. Status - Did not pass.


The 2023 GAC Star Sponsor program registration is now underway and it's not too late to be apart of it. 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 2023 Star Sponsor registration form or information and email Jill Hansard or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830 or Click Here for Online registration. 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. 



April 28th: First Annual Agribusiness Classic Clay Shoot - located at Meadows Clay Sports in Forsyth, GA - Registration begins at 8:30am - Limited Space - register today! Email Rebekah McDowell for more information.

This information is intended for members of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. No part of this document shall be copied, edited, or redistributed in any form without express written consent from the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc.

Georgia Agribusiness Council | 706-336-6830 | WWW.GA-AGRIBUSINESS.ORG


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