Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
November 2019
With Harvest Celebration just three short weeks away, now is the time to purchase your tables or tickets! Can't attend? We're still accepting donations for the Field of Dreams raffle and Silent Auction. You can also bid on items thanks to the addition of electronic bidding! The deadline to be included in the program is November 11th, so call the office today!

The GAC Harvest Celebration is key to the advocacy efforts of the Council, and we are very grateful for the support provided by our many members and industry friends. We hope to have you attend this first-class, engaging evening that you will want to share with friends, family and co-workers. Click the button below, call the GAC office at 706-336-6830, or email Maggie Wooten at to secure your tables or tickets today.
On October 29 th and 30 th , the House Rural Development Council, Co-Chaired by Rep. Sam Watson and Rep. Rick Jasperse, held a meeting at the College of Coastal Georgia in Camden County. The two-day meeting covered a wide variety of topics that affect Rural Georgia ranging from EPA regulations, Hemp production, Timber issues, Trade updates and Labor concerns. Focusing on Agribusiness and Forestry primarily, the schedule included testimonies from Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, the Georgia Forestry Association's Andres Villegas, GAXtracts Managing Partner Rob Lee, and many others. While many of these issues will require attention from both the state and federal authorities, the House Rural Development Council has taken initiative to discuss ways that the Georgia Legislature can better the lives of all rural Georgians. 
The Georgia Agribusiness Council Congratulates two long-time friends of Agribusiness on their induction into the Georgia Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Bill Brim - Originally from Pelham, Georgia, was shaped by his participation in Future Farmers of America and other agriculture-related youth organizations.

Brim established himself as an industry leader when he and business partner Ed Walker purchased Lewis Taylor Farms in 1985. Brim quickly realized that technology was forcing traditional bare-root transplant companies out of business. Over the next five years, Brim helped transform Lewis Taylor Farms into a diversified transplant and vegetable production farm operation.

When Brim became co-owner of Lewis Taylor Farms, it had only 87,000 square feet of greenhouse production space. It now boasts 81 greenhouses with more than 649,000 square feet of production space. Annually, the greenhouse operation produces approximately 375 million vegetable transplants and 81 million pine seedlings.

Along with the transplant operation, Brim manages more than 6,500 acres of vegetable production throughout the year, shipping to markets in the United States and Canada. With Brim’s expertise in vegetable production, he was a natural fit to collaborate with scientists from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in various research projects with far-reaching implications.

Foster Rhodes - When Foster Rhodes was a county agent in Houston County, organizing 13 4-H clubs with 940 members, he envisioned a place where Georgia youth could exhibit their livestock projects. That vision came to fruition in the Georgia National Fairgrounds and AgriCenter in large part due to Rhodes’ vision, dedication and effort.

Rhodes was instrumental in establishing the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, Georgia, working from concept in the mid-1980s to the first Georgia National Fair held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in 1990. He served an important role in the fairgrounds’ early years as the point person with city council, county commissioners and state leadership in securing the land needed for the AgriCenter.

Rhodes has been a key member of the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority, which developed and now oversees the fairgrounds, since 1985. Today, he is chairman of the authority, a position he was elected to in March after serving as vice president since 1997.
It is because of Rhodes’ leadership and dedication that Georgia’s youth have a facility to showcase its projects, and agriculture can be promoted. Since the AgriCenter opened in 1990, it has attracted approximately 22 million people, providing a $1.5 billion economic impact. Approximately 850,000 people visit the fairgrounds and AgriCenter each year, giving them some exposure to agriculture.

After beginning his career as a county agent in Houston County. Rhodes became one of Georgia’s first Extension state beef specialists, holding that position for three years. He worked across the state with agents and teachers through workshops to enhance the production of Georgia’s beef cattle industry.

Rhodes later transitioned to agribusiness when he moved to Perry to work with Gray Walker Tractor Company. He purchased the company in 1987 and now operates it as Walker-Rhodes Tractor Company, where it is a source for agricultural and industrial equipment for the middle Georgia area. His primary markets are row crop, industrial, lawn and garden, orchard and groves, hay and forages, and livestock.

GAC was pleased to partner with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to highlight the issues that Georgia agribusinesses are facing due to the EPA mandated Tier 4 emissions standards during last month's Sunbelt Agriculture Expo. EPA Regional IV Agriculture Adviser, Susan Park, was on site for the Expo to hear from equipment manufacturers and others about these burdensome regulations and the issues that are caused by DEF fluid in the Southeastern U.S.

The EPA continues to note that Georgia is one of the only states to express concerns about DEF and the negative impacts it is having on our farming and forestry equipment. It is vitally important that we reach out to our partners in other states to ensure that they are voicing their issues with the Tier 4 regulations so that the EPA does not to continue to treat this as an isolated issue.

While we understand that proper storage of DEF is extremely important, we hope to highlight to regulators that "user error" is not the primary and/or only issue we are facing.

GAC will continue to work across the industry to find solutions to the problems caused by these mandated emissions systems. If you have examples of similar issues caused by these regulations, please contact us so that we can gather more specific information to work with EPA moving forward.

U.S. House lawmakers on Oct. 30 unveiled an agriculture labor package   that attempts to offer a path to legalization for farm workers and expand the H-2A visa program for foreign labor. While we applaud the bipartisan efforts for meaningful immigration reform and this bill's attempts to improve agricultural job opportunities, we feel that this legislation falls short on the much-needed improvements that are required to help Georgia's agriculture community.

Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Executive Director Charles Hall noted that "Over the past twenty years, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has advocated for legislation that would provide our growers a stable and legal workforce, giving them the ability to produce safe and affordable fruit and vegetables for the American consumer. Unfortunately, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 4916) falls short of meeting our objectives for meaningful immigration reform and offers very few improvements to the H-2A program. While the legislation does provide for some beneficial changes to the current labor situation on the farm, there are many more negatives in the bill than positives. The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is not supporting H.R. 4916."  

The landmark legislation aimed to address the shortage of workers available in the U.S. agriculture industry by helping build a legal and reliable workforce. But in reality, we believe the bill will make the guest worker program much more difficult for both labor and the farmers that desperately need them.

Introduced by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, and Dan Newhouse, R-Washington – the bill would provide agricultural workers an opportunity to earn legal status through continued agricultural employment. However, working for as little as 100 days in a year would meet that requirement. These workers would then receive "Certified Agriculture Worker" status and take priority over foreign H-2A workers. They could then walk off the job after 100 days and leave Georgia farmers without workers in the middle of their harvest. This is simply unacceptable to our members.

As part of its improvements to the H-2A visa program, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would create year-round access to the H-2A program for dairy and other agricultural sectors that are facing labor shortages but have been unable to utilize the program. Currently, year-round agriculture does not have access to a legal immigrant workforce.
We were honored to work with the Georgia Department of Agriculture as they hosted a group of pecan purchasers from Taiwan during the "in bound" portion of their trade mission. Commissioner Gary Black previously visited Taiwan as the GDA increases their pursuit of increased trade options for Georgia Grown products. We spoke with the group about the need for increased partnerships between our farmers and their nation and the wonderful qualities of Georgia pecans.

The National Cotton Council (NCC) Chief Executive Officer Gary Adams announced on October 31st that Tas Smith of Georgia was selected to serve as Director of Producer Affairs for the NCC. He will replace Craig Brown who is scheduled to retire in 2020.

Tas currently serves as the State Executive Director in Georgia for USDA’s Farm Service Agency. He was appointed to that position in November 2017. Prior to that, Tas worked for Georgia Farm Bureau for 12 years, most recently serving as the Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs. 

Tas is a graduate of Valdosta State University (BA in Political Science) in Valdosta, GA and Tiffin University (MBA) in Tiffin, OH. Tas and his wife Stephanie have two children. 

Georgia Forestry Association -
The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) published the draft rules for the Qualified Timberland Property (QTP) program on October 17, 2019. The Georgia Forestry Association's Tax Committee was disappointed to see that many of the interpretations embodied in Amendment 3 seemed counter to the legislative intent. Of particular concern was the DOR’s use of “highest and best use” language as part of assessments of timberland. 
"Amid the context of a rapidly urbanizing state, CUVA, FLPA, and now QTP were all created and passed by the General Assembly as a solution toward maintaining our states' 22 million acres of working forests under the doctrine of 'current use.' This was done intentionally so it would not be treated as 'highest and best use,'" GFA President and CEO Andres Villegas said. "The elected leaders who created CUVA, FLPA and QTP recognized the economic, environmental and community benefits that forestland provide to our state and determined that it could best be maintained by treating it as a separate class of property.”

GFA’s Tax Committee is preparing a formal response to the draft rule and members of the committee will be testifying at a hearing on November 22 in Atlanta. 
Register Today for the 2019 Georgia Ag Labor Forum!

You don't want to miss this outstanding line up of Ag Labor Experts!
November 5-6, 2019
UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center
$235 per person
Includes lunch on Tuesday, November 5 and Wednesday, November 6
Hilton Garden Inn
201 Boo Drive
Tifton, Georgia 31793
$129 per night
**Room block deadline October 21!**

Session Topics
·     Preparing for a DOL Audit
·     Political Outlook -- How the Current Political Climate May Impact Ag Labor and Workforce
·     Farm Labor Contractor Basics
·     WPS Implementation Updates and Compliance Tips
·     Update on Migrate and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act, MSPA
·     Learn from Court Cases on Joint Employment and FLSA Ag Overtime Exemption
·     Is H-2A an Option for Your Operation
·     Deep Dive into 2019 Proposed H-2A Rule Changes

In a political environment that is rapidly changing, supporting 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 agribusiness interests in the legislative and regulatory arenas. This lofty initiative continues to get harder and harder. In our efforts to advance these activities, the Council formed the Georgia AgPAC several years ago that has several functions, including:
* Financially supporting the campaigns of political candidates friendly to our initiatives;
* Educating elected officials and key decision makers on issues important to agribusiness;
* Advocacy of issues that advance our industry and communities

We ask for your 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. 
ASMARK INSTITUTE -   Written Programs

If OSHA came to your door, what’s one of the first things the inspector might ask to see?
Most likely your Hazard Communication Program. Do you have one and is it current? Not
all OSHA regulations require written programs, but many do.

We invite you to review and consider passing along to your members the following special
feature made available on the Asmark Institute website under the Compass Line of Services
& Products.

Written programs personalized to your retail agricultural farm center, terminal, warehouse or
equipment dealership:

  • Hazard Communication Program
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Electrical Safety
  • Grain Handling Standard
  • Hot Work Program
  • Emergency Plan
  • DOT Safety Policy
  • DOT Security Plan

Click here for more information. This link will take you directly to our website to
learn more about the featured service.

Barrington Dairy, LLC
Berrien Peanut Co.
Bill Hembree & Associates / Nationwide
Boddiford Farm Services Inc.
Coffee County Gin Co. Inc.
Coley Gin & Fertilizer Co. Inc.
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Docia Farms Ptn.
Emanuel Peanut & Grain
Embry Farm Services
GA Agricultural Commodity for Tobacco
Georgia Christmas Tree Association
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Holder Ag Consulting
Israel Farm Supply, Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.
Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC
Nut Tree Pecan Nursery
Oglethorpe Power Corporation
Patrick Family Farms, LLC
Pineland Plantation
Quality Feedstuffs, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Redmond's Shiloh Farms, Inc.
Sconyers Gin & Warehouse Co.
Shiloh Farms, Inc.
South Georgia Produce Inc.
Southern Seed Co.
Swainsboro Stockyard
The Dairy Alliance, Inc.
Turner County Stockyard, Inc.
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
Vidalia Onion Business Council
Walter J. Turner Farms
West Georgia Processing, Inc.
Wilkes County Stockyard
Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!

The 2019 Georgia Sod Producers Field Day will be held on November 6, 2019 at Super Sod in Perry, GA. It will offer education, equipment demos and an exhibitor tradeshow. Attendees can click here to sign up today and take advantage of early-registration discount or for exhibitor and sponsorship information and registration to download click here.
The 2019 Georgia Ag Labor Forum is November 5-6, 2019 located at UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center . You don't want to miss this outstanding line up of Ag Labor Experts! Click here to register today.
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