Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
The Joint Agriculture Chairmen’s Ag Issues Summit, hosted by
House Ag Chairman Tom McCall and Senate Ag Chairman John Wilkinson , will take place Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at ABAC's  Georgia Museum of Agriculture in Tifton . This is a great opportunity to hear about current policy issues and give input. The Georgia Agribusiness Council is proud to be a lunch sponsor of this event along with the Georgia Urban Ag Council, Georgia Poultry Federation, Georgia Farm Bureau, and the Georgia Forestry Association.

The meeting is free, but registration is required - space is limited. To attend, please contact Leigh Goff at  or Taylor Hartshorn at as soon as possible.  An agenda will be emailed to those that preregister.  We hope to see you there.
The Georgia Agribusiness Council led GAC Board members and other agricultural leaders to Washington, DC on July 12 - 13 to meet with the Georgia delegation and discuss current issues facing the agricultural industry. Issues included:
  1. Trade: Informed Members that a strong export market helps ensure vibrant domestic markets and the need for both aspects to work together for a sustainable future for our industry. We also urged their support for the respective trade agreements that have broad benefits to agriculture and forestry.
  2. Workforce: Asked that the GA delegation support efforts to improve the H-2A and H-2B programs and to support the regulations put forth by the Dept. of Labor. Also urged them to support legislative efforts to adjust the limit on H-2B visas and/or provide for a “returning worker exemption” to help businesses access needed workers.
  3. WOTUS & Other Federal Regulations: Applauded the delegation's support of the WOTUS repeal and asked them to continue to monitor and support similar actions. We also asked for their continued support on repealing the NPDES permit mandate as well as advancing PRIA-4 to better achieve timely pesticide registrations.
  4. Timber TaxWe asked the delegation to please keep a watchful eye out for specific portions of the tax code which keep businesses in Georgia’s forest and agriculture sectors economically viable. 

The trip included stopping by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and meeting with Secretary Perdue's Chief of Staff, Heidi Green along with other top advisers including: Kristi Boswell, Rebeckah Adcock, Daniel Whitley and Brian Klippenstein. With each adviser specializing in different areas, we were able to have detailed discussions on trade, workforce, and environmental stewardship. We were also honored to meet with Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue on the first day. The second day included a breakfast meeting with Representatives Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, Rob Woodall and staff from Rep. Tom Graves' office. Afterwards, we moved from office to office meeting with Reps. Rick Allen, Buddy Carter, David Scott, Drew Ferguson, Doug Collins, Sanford Bishop, and Austin Scott. We were proud to greet the UGA Ag Fellows in the offices where they served this summer, getting a first-hand account of how our elected officials manage ag policy issues and legislation. We are proud to support this initiative each year and we appreciate UGA CAES and the other supporters of the Ag Fellowship program. Click here to access our comments about the DC trip on Southeast AgNet radio.

We appreciate the large group that was able to attend these important meetings:

Nowell Berreth (Alston & Bird LLP), Joe Burns (Color Burst), Tom Beyer (Georgia Forestry Association), Barry & Barbara Cronic (Columbia Farms of Georgia, Inc.), Diana Earwood (plain.stated LLC), Bucky Kennedy (Southern Crop Production Association), Aaron McWhorter (North Georgia Turf), Tas Smith (Georgia Farm Bureau), Donna & Jimmy Stewart (Hays ~ LTI), Andres Villegas (Georgia Forestry Association), Doyle Weltzbarker (Brooksco Dairy), and Mary Kay Woodworth (Georgia Urban Ag Council).

The GAC group with Senator Johnny Isakson and Ag Fellow Ashley Smith.
Early morning breakfast meeting with Reps. Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk, and Rob Woodall.
Insightful discussions with  Senator David Perdue on workforce and trade .
Congressman Sanford Bishop discussing policy issues along with Ag Fellow Makinizi Hoover.
Meeting with  Congressman Rick Allen in the office of House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway. We appreciate his legislative staff Zellie Duvall and Ag Fellow Andy Paul being part of the discussions on repealing regulations harmful to the ag economy.
Nowell Berreth (left), Tas Smith (right-center), and Bucky Kennedy (right) speak with Rep. Barry Loudermilk (left-center).
Rep. Austin Scott (center) is always on point with his insights on ag issues. Pictured with Bucky Kennedy (left) and Joe Burns (right).
Enjoyed staff discussions in the office of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Impressive progress being made on many fronts, including trade.
We are proud of all of our UGA CAES Ag Fellows. We hosted them for supper so they could meet with our group about their DC experience.
Thanks for your responses last month. We had a tie for first with the question:
"GAC is headed to DC in July. Which of the following federal issues is most important to you?"

Reforms to help access labor for my business - 30.5%
Fix the healthcare program so it works for small businesses & families - 30.5%
Reducing regulations at EPA, FDA, & other federal agencies - 21%
Maintain & enhance world trade opportunities for ag, forestry, & agribusiness - 18%

H ere's our latest member poll. We appreciate your input: 
Which of the following is most important to you at the August 23 Ag Issues Summit?
Agricultural water planning and irrigation metering
GATE compliance update
Solutions to help rural Georgia
The Destination Ag education initiative
Meeting face-to-face with the Ag Chairmen and other key legislators


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. T he applications are due postmarked to the GAC office by October 16, 2017.

GAC is also proud to announce the release of the William C. "Bill" Baisley "Sumpin' Big" Scholarship applications for 2017. This $1000 scholarship is offered to a student 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 16, 2017.  

Don't forget to mark your calendars for Harvest Celebration, which is slated for November 17, 2017 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Restless Heart will serve as the evening's entertainment. 
Harvest Celebration is key to the advocacy efforts of the Council, and we are very grateful for the support provided by our members and industry friends. We hope to have you as our guest for a first-class, engaging evening that you will want to share with friends, family and co-workers. 

The Early Bird promotion is almost over! Purchasers will be entered into a drawing for one of twelve great prizes. These include a one-night's stay on November 17 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel; one of three Field of Dreams ticket books; or one of eight autographed items from Restless Heart. This Early Bird promotion ends August 18.
Click Here to order your
or call GAC at 706-336-6830

For more information contact:
The House Rural Development Council (HRDC) held their third round of discussions in Thomasville and Bainbridge, July 19 and 20 respectively . Co-Chairs Terry England (Auburn) and Jay Powell (Camilla) heard from many speakers discussing the many difficulties facing rural Georgia when it comes to hospitals and overall healthcare. A particular issue involved the rampant abuse of opioids in rural GA. It was suggested that a way to keep these users out of the hospital is to continue funding of crisis intervention training, or CIT. Another major problem that was discussed was behavior health and how to get these people out of state hospitals and back into community-based services. Lastly, the absolute closures of hospitals are detrimental. While a closed hospital would be bad for doctors and patients, it would also do disproportionate damage to delicate rural economies where the local hospital is often one of the largest employers along with the public school system. 

Videos of the presentations made at the HRDC sessions are available online for your review.  We hope you will make plans to attend a session that comes to your area later this year. GAC will continue to monitor these meetings and update you as they progress throughout the year. For more information and future dates on the House Rural Development Council, click here. The next set of meetings are set for August 15 - 16 in Ellijay and Dalton where they will cover labor, education, and workforce development.

We offer our hearty congratulations to our very good friend and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black on winning the 4-H Green Jacket Award at the Annual 4-H Banquet held July 27, 2017, in Atlanta. Throughout his career at Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Agribusiness Council, and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, he has shown a deep affection for youth leadership programs engaged in agriculture. We are all very proud of Commissioner Black. Congratulations, Gary!

GAC was proud to be with our friends from the Georgia Forestry Association on Jekyll Island for their annual meeting July 21-23. The weekend consisted of exhibitors and different educational sessions with guest speakers from around the country discussing the timber industry and current issues facing forestry. Special guests included Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter and Congressman Bruce Westerman from Arkansas who is the only forester in U.S. Congress. This was a great opportunity for dialogue between those attending and industry leaders. GFA President Andres Villegas and his staff used this conference to unveil their brand-new logo and slogan "Let's Grow." 
(photo (l-r): Sen. Tyler Harper, GFA President Andres Villegas, and Congressman Buddy Carter)   
The Georgia Plant Food Educational Society held their annual Summer Meeting July 24 - 26 and GAC was pleased to attend and present to the group. GAC President, Bryan Tolar discussed legislative updates, and GAC’s healthcare and workers' comp insurance programs. We appreciate the GPFES Board and  President Jimmy Champion for putting together this event that provides valuable information to the industry and helps benefit students through their scholarship programs. A special thank you goes to Donna and Jimmy Stewart along with their staff from Hays~LTI for setting up the record breaking silent auction. During the dinner Tuesday night, Mike Anderson  of Bulloch Fertilizer (below) received the “Blair Davis Outstanding Service Award” . This is a great honor and went to a true friend of agriculture and the fertilizer industry. Congratulations, Mike!
UGA's research facility held their field day in July to share the latest innovations and developments from the state's leading experts on crop irrigation. New technologies continue to revolutionize the way crop moisture monitoring is conducted, and with the data collected in real time, growers are able to further their stewardship practices. With a large interest in water conservation, it is vital that Georgia stay ahead of the curve when it comes to finding the best ways to maximize production, minimize costs, and conserve our resources. Ag Commissioner Gary Black and U GA CAES Dean Sam Pardue both spoke on the importance of the facility and the major impact the research has on our state.
A.M. Bickley Inc.
Barrington Dairies
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
Clay Co. & Associates
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
 Davis M. Love III and Robin B. Love 
Docia Farms
Doerun Gin Co. Inc.
Doug Hopkins
Dollar Farm Products Co. Inc. 
Embry Farm Services
GA Ag. Commodity Commission for Tobacco
GA Association of Professional Ag. Consultants
Georgia Peach Council
Georgia Poultry Federation
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Georgia Watermelon Association
Greg Sikes Farm, LLC
Hattaway Farms Partnerships
Holifield Farms Inc.
Israel Farm Supply Inc.
J & B Irrigation Inc.

Leger & Son, Inc.
Majors Electric & Mechanical Co., Inc.
Oak Hill Farm
Pike Creek Turf, Inc.
Pitts Insurance Agency Inc.

Plantation Seed Conditioners, Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Saddle Creek Farm
Swainsboro Stockyard
TriEst Ag Group, Inc.
Vidalia Onion Business Council
Special thanks to our
2017 Star Sponsors!
Mr. Roy Herrington passed on July 12, 2017. He served on the GAC board from 1991 until 2013 and his company Thompson Farm Supply has been a member of the Council since 1987. He and his wife, Georgia, were very active in GAC events and Roy was very helpful throughout the years in recruiting new members to the Council. He was a well-respected leader in Appling County, in his community of Baxley, and in the feed and farm supply industry. In addition, Roy served with distinction on the Georgia Department of Transportation Board from 2005 - 2010. Please keep his family in your prayers. A full obituary may be found at

Mr. David Skinner passed on July 19, 2017. Well recognized for his relationships throughout the Georgia industry in agriculture finance, David was also very active with FFA and 4-H programs. His impact on Ag education through these programs places him among the giants. David’s sense of humor stood tall in any room and with any audience. He loved to make people laugh - and he was very good at it. His gift of humor mixed with a heavy dose of humility was such an endearing quality. No one believed in the mission of GAC more than David. He served on the GAC board from 1993 until 2013, including Chairman in 2010 – 2011 as the Council achieved record membership growth. Please keep his wife Gina and the family in your prayers. A full obituary, complete with good humor, can be found at 

Dr. Bill Segars was a longtime friend and ally to the fertilizer industry in Georgia and across the southeast. He was a very active participant in the Certified Crop Advisor program and was very active in the Georgia Plant Food Educational Society, among many other organizations. Bill was well-known for his work at the University of Georgia as Soil and Fertilizer Specialist as well as his work as Extension's Water Quality Coordinator, where he developed a nationally known program in groundwater protection. He and his wife Barbara made a great team. Bill passed on July 7, 2017. His obituary can be found at 
The UGA CAES Ag Forecast Seminar dates have been scheduled and below are the set dates. GAC is proud to be a sponsor of these great events that give a forecast for the agricultural climate in the coming year and also a recap of the prior year. Be sure to sign up early as many events reach capacity quickly. We will post registration information as soon as it is available. 

  • Tuesday, January 30: Lyons (Toombs County Ag Center)  
  • Thursday, February 1: Bainbridge (Decatur County Ag Center)
  • Friday, February 2: Tifton (UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center) 
  • Monday, February 5: Macon (GA Farm Bureau) 
  • Tuesday, February 6: Cartersville (Clarence Brown Conference Center) 
  • Wednesday, February 7: Athens (The Classic Center) 
The 2017 Regional Workers' Compensation Seminars conducted by AgriTrust of Georgia will be held across the state this month. These seminars are planned especially for companies enrolled in AgriTrust and their independent insurance agents. Visit for more information.
Dates include:

  • August 2 - Tifton, UGA Tifton Conference Center - 9:00 a.m.
  • August 2 - Albany, Doublegate Country Club - 12:00 noon
  • August 3 - Thomasville, The Plaza Restaurant - 12:00 noon
  • August 9 - Statesboro, Bulloch Fertilizer Co. - 12:00 noon
  • August 10 - Lyons, Railroad Depot - 12:00 noon
  • August 16 - Perry, GA National Fairgrounds - 12:00 noon
  • August 17 - Dawsonville, United Community Bank - 12:00 noon
  • August 24 - Forest Park, GA Grown Welcome Center - 12:00 noon
  • August 24 - Athens, Holiday Inn - 6:00 p.m.
GAC is proud to partner with the Asmark Institute in delivering their compliance services to the industry. These services help ensure that their customers are ready for anything OSHA, EPA or any other regulatory agency has to throw at the industry. The Asmark Institute is an indispensable part of the ag retail industry. One of the many benefits provided is their Applicator Training Course. A great challenge farm centers face today is hiring and properly training professional applicators. The Asmark Institute has developed this course specifically for new applicators. Classes will start this month. Click here for more information.

Now is a great time to have your custom applicator facility registered with the ResponsibleAg program. More than 2,500 facilities have now registered with 743 already receiving their certification. For more information and to register, go to:
* Just a reminder that the new Georgia Agribusiness Council website is now live. This brand new design allows users to easily navigate the site in order to find out more about GAC initiatives, become members, discover our services, purchase tickets to events, and learn about our GAC Foundation activities. We hope you like what you see. Additional features will be added in the weeks ahead.
* Congratulations to GAC member Terry England as his lifelong support for FFA and ag education was honored by the dedication of the Terry England Leadership Center at the FFA/FCCLA Camp. Congratulations Terry & Cindy England and thank you for your leadership!

The Georgia 4-H Gala will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at the Loews Hotel in midtown Atlanta. GAC is pleased to be a table sponsor. The evening will celebrate the 4-H family while giving back to support enhanced programming for youth around the state. Click here for event details.

* The 31st annual Georgia Peanut Tour will be held September 19 - 21, 2017, in Albany, Georgia and the surrounding area. The tour brings the latest information on peanuts while giving a first-hand view of industry infrastructure from production and handling to processing and utilization. Click here for more info and to register.
* The UGA CAES will be having their annual Alumni Awards Banquet and Agriculture Hall of Fame Induction on Friday, September 22 at the Classic Center in Athens. Click here to register.
* It was great to have USDA Secretary Perdue and EPA Administrator Pruitt meet with forestry and agriculture friends on the farm of GAC members Earl and Wanda Barrs. This came shortly after Administrator Pruitt repealed the WOTUS regulations, much to the pleasure of all of rural America. These two leaders are bringing a lot of common sense back to Ag and forestry conversations. Thanks to the Georgia Forestry Foundation for hosting this discussion.
* The annual ABAC "Ag Classic" golf tournament will be on September 29 at Forest Lake Golf Course in Tifton, GA. The proceeds are used to benefit the students of ABAC in the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources. There is a morning and afternoon flight. Flights will be determined on first registered, first assigned basis.  Register your team here .
* A new movie called "Food Evolution" is now being viewed across the country at a limited number of locations. It focuses on the science of food production and explores the real impacts of genetic modification. See the film trailer and learn more at . 

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.

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