Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
September 2020
Atlanta, GA - On August 31, 2020, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed two executive orders extending the Public Health State of Emergency and existing COVID-19 safety measures.

Executive Order extends the Public Health State of Emergency through 11:59 PM on October 10, 2020. The Public Health State of Emergency allows for enhanced coordination across government and the private sector for supply procurement, comprehensive testing, and healthcare capacity.

By renewing the applicability of existing language, Executive Order continues to require social distancing, bans gatherings of more than fifty people unless there is six feet between each person, outlines mandatory criteria for businesses, and requires sheltering in place for those living in long-term care facilities and the medically fragile, among other provisions. The order runs through 11:59 PM on September 15, 2020.

Encouraging Signs
Currently, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Georgia are at their lowest since July 6. Cases reported yesterday were at their lowest point since June 22. The statewide positivity rate has declined in the past month, and there is ample testing capacity in every region. As of last Friday, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency had distributed 25.9 million masks, 10.6 million cloth face coverings, 5.2 million surgical gowns, 42 million gloves, and 1.6 million face shields and goggles to local hospitals, schools, and long-term care facilities.
Godfrey’s Feed has been member of GAC since 1991 and a staple of agribusiness in Madison, Georgia since 1879. The building and company that started out as a cotton warehouse has now grown into one of the premier feed sellers in the state. Godfrey’s feed is a family-owned business that has been passed down through six generations, starting with J.E. Godfrey and continuing today with Whitey and Weyman Hunt. They pride themselves on great service and high-quality products that include premium feeds for nearly all types of livestock, horses, as well as some wildlife such as deer. In addition to supplying bulk feed directly to farmers, Godfrey’s feed can be found by the bag in many dealer locations across Georgia as well as Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida. All of the feed that holds the Godfrey’s label is mixed processed and packaged in the original warehouse in downtown Madison. We’re thankful for longtime, supportive members of GAC!
We are pleased to share that the Georgia Agribusiness Council has been named one of the top trade associations working Under the Gold Dome and our Public Affairs Manager, Jake Tench, has been named to this list of Rising Stars as a lobbyist in Atlanta by James Magazine.

James Magazine, which focuses on Georgia's business and political environment, released its annual ranking in their September issue. The magazine described this year's competition as the most active to date. "These professionals work for both government and private entities throughout the year using their skills and relationships to present important public policy issues to our state lawmakers and leaders. A record 27,000 ballots were cast this year by our readers to rank the 2020 Top Lobbyists."

Rankings are based on the results of an online survey of lobbyists and government affairs professionals from around the state. They also worked with a group of bipartisan elected officials to ensure the list was comprehensive and accurate. We are proud of the work being done by Jake Tench on behalf of GAC membership and hope you will join us in congratulating him on this well deserved recognition.

To view the online version of James Magazine's September issue, CLICK HERE
FROM GFVGA - Georgia Fruit and Vegetable producers joined GFVGA, Executive Director Charles Hall last week to testify before U.S. trade officials about the crisis Georgia farmers are facing because of a staggering increase in imported produce from Mexico fueled by unfair trade practices that leave Georgia farmers in a fight for their future. 

The second hearing conducted by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, USTR, included testimony from Georgia elected officials, U.S. Congressmen Austin Scott, Buddy Carter and Doug Collins, as well as Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. A host of Georgia farmers testified to the damaging impacts of subsidized imports including Joe Cornelius, Russ Goodman, Sam Watson, Bill Brim, Steve McMillan and Dick Minor. Their message was clear; without a remedy to level the economic playing field, Georgia producers will lose their ability to make a living growing fruits and vegetables. 

Georgia’s elected officials also urged USTR to use all tools at their disposal to bring balance to the trade relationship with Mexico. Commissioner Black focused on the health of farms and reminded USTR that dysfunctional trade can be life threatening to every American farmer. Scott and Carter noted the growing exposure Georgia growers have to Mexican imports and warned of the impact a lack of action will have on rural Georgia economies. 

Hall testified that a remedy is desperately needed. “Over the past twenty years, imports of fresh produce from Mexico have grown tremendously. The pattern has now shifted from undercutting our growers financial and competitive health, to threatening our industry’s very survival. You have seen the numbers and they are staggering”. 

Hall noted Mexican imports have increased by 551 percent since 2001 as the Mexican government has subsidized a massive increase in protected agriculture infrastructure and acreage.

Sam Watson of Chill C Farms in Moultrie testified, “as a 5th generation farmer I feel certain that due to these unfair practices I will be the last generation of farmers in my family.” 

Bill Brim, President of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton, produces a variety of fruits and vegetables on 5,500 acres. His testimony also expressed his deep concern for the future. "Despite our 71year history, and despite the support of our dedicated employees, our future is in serious jeopardy. Quickly rising imports, primarily from Mexico, are on the verge of putting us out of business. We are experiencing a rapid destruction of the Southeastern fruit and vegetable production sector by reason of imports.”

Hall thanked Ambassador Lighthizer for his commitment to the Georgia and Florida congressional delegations to announce a plan within sixty days of the of the USMCA’s entry into force. Hall also asked for a commitment from the U.S. government to defend the interests and ability of our southeastern fruit and vegetable growers to be able to survive in the short-term and thrive in the long-term. While echoing Florida’s request for a 301 investigation, Hall asked that every import relief tool available be utilized to allow southeastern growers to compete fairly.
Call the GAC Office at 706.336.6830, Email Maggie Wooten or
Click Below to Buy Tickets!
Thank you to the Early Bird tickets buyers!
All were entered into a drawing for one of four great prizes!
The winners are announced below:

A one-night's stay on November 22 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel:
Georgia Crop Improvement Association

One of three Field of Dreams ticket books:
Pennington Seed, Inc,
Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many agriculture fairs, expos, and shows have been forced to shut their gates to participants across the state, including two of the largest, the Sunbelt Ag Expo and the Georgia National Fair. GAC is working with our Congressional Delegation to urge their support of HR 7883, which would provide much needed relief to agriculture fairs that are struggling after being required to postpone or cancel events.

We ask that all members contact your representative and remind them of how important these fairs and expos are to Georgia’s agribusiness industry and the youth of our state.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.
GAC, along with a coalition of allied Ag groups, submitted a letter in support of Dicamba Registration. This letter was sent to EPA Administrator Wheeler and other top officials and was sponsored by a number of groups including: Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Georgia Farm Bureau, AgGeorgia Farm Credit, Georgia Cotton Commission, Georgia Plant Food Educational Society, and Georgia Crop Production Alliance.

This letter was drafted as a result of the Ninth Circuit Court Ruling that immediately canceled the registration of many vitally important products. We believe this ruling is scientifically baseless and causes extreme concern for the Agriculture Industry. If you would like to read the complete letter that was sent, click here.
Hurricane Laura struck Louisiana early Thursday morning, coming ashore as a Category 4 storm with winds upwards of 150 mph - making it the most intense storm to have made landfall in Louisiana in 164 years. By Thursday afternoon, the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm as it continued north and east to Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Laura’s timing couldn’t be worse for Louisiana and Arkansas producers as harvest nears for several major crops across the state. While the rice harvest is set to begin in northern Arkansas, the corn harvest throughout the state has already begun for producers with grain drying capabilities.As with many crops in the state, lodging — the phenomenon of crops becoming first saturated with rain, and then blown down in high winds — poses the most likely threat at this point.

In the Midwest, Agri-Pulse reports that Iowa lawmakers are asking USDA to promptly grant a disaster designation for 57 Iowa counties that suffered crop and structural losses from straight-line wind damage earlier this month. In a letter to USDA, the lawmakers say nearly 725 million bushels of corn and 153 million bushels of soybeans may be lost. (Iowa produced 2.6 billion bushels of corn and 501 million bushels of soybeans in 2019. )
The letter says satellite data and preliminary storm reports show about 3.6 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans were severely damaged.
POLITICO Huddle dubbed the current state of Washington as “Dysfunction Junction”, noting that “Congress is more gridlocked than ever”. There are very few legislative days left on the calendar this year, with a presidential election right in the middle of it all.

Earlier last week, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that the Administration would prefer a combined coronavirus deal with a short-term funding patching next month, but that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is responsible for the hold-up. The Speaker’s office responded saying that the White House has yet to reach out to her office. Senate Republicans are still trying to build support for their “skinny” aid package, an approach that Senate Democrats have already rejected.

GAC has continued to be in contact with our Congressional delegation to ensure the needs of agribusiness are being heard. The optimism of getting a bipartisan deal done quickly is continuing to fade as each side blames the other for the stalemate.
Last Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told reporters that another round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) could be announced “shortly after Labor Day.”

The Secretary noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was looking at offering "CFAP 2" with the additional $14 billion in funds Congress allocated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act to replenish the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) account after July 1, 2020.

In CFAP2, USDA will also address concerns with the way the first round of funding was structured, including the arbitrary cutoff of April 15 for determining losses.
“Agricultural producers continue to be impacted by COVID-19, and USDA is working to assist our farmers and ranchers. Our team will reflect on what worked well under the current CFAP and on the information and feedback we gathered as part of the process to make the next round even stronger and more effective for our producers,” a USDA spokesman said.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) wrote to the Secretary on August 21st, requesting clarification on how USDA determined the eligibility of different crops, livestock and poultry species for CFAP payments.

“Some would argue that the full agricultural market impact of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering and agricultural processing facilities due to the COVID-19 public health crisis was not fully realized during the CFAP covered period, with losses for many commodities extending well into the second and third quarters of this year,” he wrote.

Payments under CFAP increased to $9.222 billion as of August 24, up from $9.02 billion the prior week. Payouts for livestock remain the highest at $4.607 billion, with $2.425 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.699 billion for dairy and $479 million for specialty crops.
Twenty-four senators led by Tina Smith of Minnesota and Republican Mike Crapo of Idaho sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer requesting strict enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement’s (USMCA) dairy provisions.

Specifically, the lawmakers requested oversight on how Canada handles its USMCA TRQ commitments and Mexico’s common names commitment compliance.

“USMCA is poised to create new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry and a more equitable playing field for American dairy exports in Mexico and Canada, but effective implementation will be critical to realizing these gains, “ the senators wrote.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the selection of recipients for about $4.1 million in grants and cooperative agreements through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. These are the first-ever recipients of these grants and cooperative agreements.

The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP) Competitive Grants Program supports a wide range of activities through two grant types, which are Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. Activities include operating community gardens and nonprofit farms, increasing food production and access in economically distressed communities, providing job training and education, and developing business plans and zoning. Priority was given to projects located in or targeting an Opportunity Zone, which is a census tract designation for low-income communities.

USDA is awarding approximately $1.14 million for three Planning Projects and approximately $1.88 million for seven Implementation Projects.
A World Trade Organization panel found that U.S. duties on Canadian lumber, designed to counter Canadian subsidies, breached global trading rules because Washington had not shown that many prices paid by Canadian firms for timber on government-owned lands were artificially low, The New York Times reported this week.

But Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer criticized the report, saying, “This flawed report confirms what the United States has been saying for years: The WTO dispute settlement system is being used to shield non-market practices and harm U.S. interests. The panel’s findings would prevent the United States from taking legitimate action in response to Canada’s pervasive subsidies for its softwood lumber industry.”

The United States is evaluating options in response to the panel report, USTR said.
Georgia National Fair Cancelled for 2020

2020 Georgia National Fair Cancellation
Effective immediately plans for the 2020 Georgia National Fair have been cancelled. Wednesday August 12, 2020 the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority made the executive decision to cancel the 2020 Georgia National Fair with a proposed modified schedule for the Youth Livestock Exhibitions. This difficult decision was driven by the impact of COVID-19 and the desire to do what was best for staff, volunteers, fairgoers and all vested parties.

The Georgia National Fair has a long standing tradition of excellence and of that; safety has always been top priority. Discussions around how to proceed with the 31st Annual event have been taking place for months, each time safety being a major concern for all involved. “For 30 years we have been able to offer an event for everyone in the family to enjoy, the rides, the entertainment, food and much more. This year, due to growing concerns for the safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and vendors we knew it was going to be tough to move forward as “normal”. We employ roughly 300 part time employees during the Fair month, and due to health concerns many have informed us that they would not be able to join us again this year, making it difficult to host an event of our magnitude in the manner we typically have. This decision has weighed heavily on our minds and hearts as this is the first time in 30 years that the Georgia National Fair will not happen, and much like our Fairgoers, this is a staple of our Fall season. Although the 2020 Georgia National Fair is unable to happen, we are making plans for the 2021 event and hope that you will make plans to join us then.” Stephen Shimp, CEO.

After much consideration, Fair Board members determined hosting a Fair that abides by CDC and State regulations would not be possible. Agricultural Exposition Authority Chairman, Foster Rhodes stated, “We have looked at every factor that plays a part in what makes the Georgia National Fair great. From the rides, vendors, concessionaires, live entertainment and concerts, it is nearly impossible to make our event safe for all members involved due to the recent COVID outbreak. For 30 years we have offered a family friendly, safe environment and that is what we strive to do each year. To offer anything less would be a disservice to our patrons, fairgoers, partners, as well as the staff and those who have come to love the Georgia National Fair’s brand. We have held off on making this decision as long as possible, however we have now entered into the 60 day window of the 2020 Georgia National Fair. With this timeline, all vendors would need an estimated 60 day notice to make appropriate plans if attending this year’s event. We feel that there is no “half-way” to producing a Fair like what we are used to hosting, and because of that we have reached this unforeseen decision to cancel.”

The Youth FFA and 4H Livestock Exhibitions are the foundation of the Georgia National Fairground’s mission. It is with pride that we are able to continue to offer them the “Fair Showing Experience” so that they can showcase their hard work and dedication in the agriculture industry. Guidelines have been put in place to help ensure that all exhibitors and their families are abiding by State and CDC regulations as well as aiding to keep our facility a safe place during this time. The show schedule, as well as those specific guidelines will be made available within the next few weeks. Registration for these livestock projects will remain open until September 1, 2020 online only, at This event will be a private event, open only to those exhibitors and their immediate family, no general admission or spectators will be allowed on grounds throughout the livestock shows. “The youth livestock and equine shows embody what our facility was designed for. We have been able to open the facility back to these events, with regulations put in place to follow all rules and guidelines set before us. This is why we feel that we are able to host this event while continuing to stay true to our mission of providing the youth a place to exhibit their livestock. It is our desire to work towards giving them the opportunity to show their projects that they have invested so much into.” Stephen Shimp, CEO.

The 31st Annual Georgia National Fair, scheduled for October 8-18, 2020 will not be taking place, however this is just a bump in the road. The Georgia National Fair staff will begin working towards plans for the 2021 Georgia National Fair immediately. To stay up to date, check out for all of the latest information and for plans for the 32nd Georgia National Fair, October 7-17, 2021.

GAC started the Dr. Joe B. Crane Memorial Classroom Grant Program to deliver grant funds directly to teachers for ag education projects. It is named for longtime GAC Director and education program advocate Dr. Joe B. Crane of Valdosta. Dr. Joe was an integral part of the Lowndes County Board of Education and carried his passion for education wherever he went. We are proud to support this program that gives Georgia teachers the chance to creatively teach agriculture in their classroom. Any public or private school teacher in Georgia, no matter the grade level, wanting to incorporate the importance of agriculture in their lesson plans can take advantage of this opportunity for assistance in the classroom to help educate the future generation of Georgians. The applications are due postmarked to the GAC office by October 10, 2020.

GAC is also proud to announce the release of the William C. "Bill" Baisley "Sumpin' Big" Scholarship applications for 2020. This $1000 scholarship is offered up to three students in need of financial assistance studying for an agricultural career at a college in Georgia. Mr. Baisley, longtime friend of GAC and Director Emeritus on our board of directors, has a passion for the future of agriculture and those looking to advance it. Bill used the phrase “sumpin big” as a way to move ideas forward. We honor him with this scholarship and look forward to helping a student that is moving our industry forward. Please share this scholarship application with a college student or high school senior in Georgia needing financial assistance and studying in the areas of agriculture or natural resources. The scholarship application is due postmarked to the GAC office on or before October 14, 2020. 

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Brooksco Dairy, LLC
Carroll EMC
Crosby Equipment Company
DeWitt Produce Co. Inc.
Doerun Gin Co. Inc.
Ft. Valley State University
Georgia Development Authority
J & B Irrigation Inc.
Jaemor Farms
L H R Farms, Inc.
Superior Pine Products Company
The Turfgrass Group, Inc.
WDairy LLC
Agri-Business Supply Inc.
Barrington Dairy, LLC
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
Bill Hembree & Associates / Nationwide
Boddiford Farm Services Inc.
Chester Timber LLC
Clay Co. & Associates
Coley Gin & Fertilizer
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
Docia Farms
Drexel Chemical Company
Durden Banking Company, Inc.
Easterlin Pecan Company
Edison Gin Co-Op Inc.
Emanuel Peanut & Grain
Embry Farm Service/ Embry Transport
GA Agricultural Commodity for Tobacco
Georgia Christmas Tree Association
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
H. T. McLendon Co.
Hattaway Farms Partnership
Hazel Creek Cider, Inc. / Yearwood Farms, Inc.
Holder Ag Consulting
Israel Farm Supply, Inc.
McCorkle Nurseries, Inc.
Moultrie Colquitt County Development Authority
Northeast Georgia Livestock
Patrick Farms
Peebles Timber, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Sconyers Gin & Warehouse Co. 
South Georgia Produce Inc.
Southeastern AGRI Services, LLC
Southern AGCOM Inc.
Southern Seed Co., Inc.
Swainsboro Stockyard
The Dairy Alliance, Inc.
Wells Fargo Commercial Banking
West Georgia Processing, Inc.

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