Monthly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members
GAC’s annual Harvest Celebration was a big success thanks to you! Over 800 tickets were sold for the event this year and we have received overwhelming positive feedback. Many thanks to special guests US Senator David Perdue and FFA Member Emma Long for being part of our evening program. Restless Heart received excellent reviews as they played many of their hits as well as a mix of other musical favorites. We would like to thank the many volunteers who helped setup the event as well as those who worked during the program, especially the UGA CAES Ag Ambassadors , who helped keep things running smoothly.

During the Harvest Celebration program, GAC was pleased to pay respect to agriculture industry leaders that died this year. We hope you will take a moment to watch the memorial video as we remember these friends and colleagues that have helped shape the industry we serve.
Thank you.
Thanks for your responses last month. Here are the top two results:

" What do you enjoy most about attending Harvest Celebration? "

1. Seeing industry friends and colleagues.
2. Getting dressed up and taking out my spouse.

Here's our latest member poll. We appreciate your input:  
If the GATE card is changed in 2018, which adjustment would you prefer to stop fraud/abuse?
Require tax documents with card renewal and application.
Raise the overall fee and go to a multi-year GATE card.
Increase fraud penalties on GATE card holders.
Use all of the above to protect the integrity of the GATE program.
Don't make any changes.
With the new year right around the corner, we are preparing for the GAC Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast, which will take place on February 6 & 7. Registration information will be distributed to GAC members in the weeks ahead.

The GAC Annual Meeting will take place on February 6 at The American Hotel , a DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Atlanta (new location for 2018) . We will have a reception starting at 6:00 p.m. with supper being served at 6:30 p.m. The American Hotel is also the host hotel. To receive the GAC rate of $149 per night, you may call (404) 688 - 8600 and ask for the Georgia Agribusiness Council rate.

The GAC State Legislative Breakfast will be held at 7:30 a.m. the next morning on February 7 at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot . This is a great opportunity for members to "meet and greet" with their state legislators and hear issues important to our industry. A shuttle from The American Hotel will be provided.
The Georgia Department of Audits routinely takes a deep dive into a variety of state-run programs looking for gaps or inefficiencies. It’s worth noting that they always turn up something that needs attention – that’s their job. Over the past several months, the auditors targeted the GATE program and how it is managed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Click here to download the 40-page final report that was recently issued .
In our review of their findings, we saw things that are certain to reignite conversation about changes to the law. The need for the state to provide better communication and access between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Revenue is old news, yet it remains unresolved. The process of collecting tax documents to prove qualifications to receive a GATE card is much more cumbersome than necessary. This fuels concern that there are those with GATE cards that do not/should not qualify, which encourages some county and municipal governments to cry foul. Even while they have no proof, it is the mere appearance of impropriety that breeds doubt. Thus, a battle could be brewing on the horizon.
While conjecture exists on how the program is managed, it is our belief that the Department of Agriculture does a good job with GATE applications and verification process given the tools available . We all want to see fraud reduced or eliminated, but much of the progress on that front is halted by bureaucratic process at the Department of Revenue. Perhaps that can and will be addressed in the upcoming legislative session.
We ask GAC members to pay close attention to this issue as the 2018 lawmaking season begins on January 8. We will work with our allies and our members to help shape the GATE program in a way that reduces opportunities for fraud, while not putting the burden of documentation and verification on the backs of ag retailers . This has always been our position and we will not deviate. As always, we welcome your suggestions and covet your engagement.
Agriculture education support is a cornerstone for the mission of the Georgia Agribusiness Council as we invest in a variety of programs to build an even stronger position for our future. The GAC Foundation , our 501(C)3 organization, was started for this exact reason. Tax-free donations to the GAC Foundation are used to help young people that will serve our industry now and in the future. The Foundation supports numerous ag education programs such as the Dr. Joe B. Crane Classroom Grants, the Mr. Bill Baisley “Sumpin’ Big” Scholarship, FFA initiatives, 4-H, Congressional Fellowships, and more. With 2018 coming up fast, we would appreciate your consideration of making a donation to these educational programs. Please call our office at (706) 336-6830 for more information or click here to access the donor form . Thank you!
The House Rural Development Council continued their statewide tour of meetings focused on hearing the challenges facing rural areas of the state with two sets of meetings within the month. Earlier in November, Co-Chairs Terry England (Auburn) and Jay Powell (Camilla) heard from many speakers in Albany discussing the many difficulties of the rural parts of the state when it comes to early education and economic development. Most stressed the importance of carefully monitoring the progress of students and allow them the option to start specializing in technical areas while in school through an implemented curriculum. They felt that this could go hand-in-hand with economic development if they are learning the hard skills that could benefit their local economies. However, certain necessities must be in place for them to succeed; one being broadband access.
The second set of meetings took place in Warm Springs on November 28 - 29. The council discussed employee enhancement and heard from businesses, including Premium Peanut that offer certain employment incentives to recruit and retain workers. It was also noteworthy that the council members charged state economic development agencies and universities to do more to go after rural business development. Chairman Jay Powell stated, "Go assess community assets to help them develop economic opportunities. We need to reallocate resources to be the most effective."
Amen to that. We couldn't agree more.
Videos of the presentations made at the HRDC sessions are available online for your review.   The Council will have their last meeting before session in Milledgeville on December 13. They will discuss what was heard over the year and issue a report.
The Joint Committee on Stream Buffers had its second meeting on November 9 at the State Capitol. The committee, chaired by Sen. Frank Ginn and Rep. Lynn Smith , heard what other states are doing when it comes to buffers, how variances are issued and how the law is interpreted when litigation occurs. There will be one more hearing on December 13 before any report is filed.

This is the first step in determining if new or modified laws or regulations are needed for the implementation of stream buffers. Thus far, we feel strongly that the current laws are adequate in protecting the environment and property rights. We will continue to monitor these discussions . Click here for more information on the committee and for the full video of the hearing.
The UGA CAES 2018 Ag Forecast Seminar dates have been set. GAC is proud to be a partner in promoting these informative events that give a forecast for the agricultural climate. Follow the links to register.

  • Tuesday, January 30: Lyons (Toombs County Ag Center) Click Here.
  • Thursday, February 1: Bainbridge (Decatur County Ag Center) Click Here.
  • Friday, February 2: Tifton (UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center) Click Here.
  • Monday, February 5: Macon (GA Farm Bureau) Click Here.
  • Tuesday, February 6: Cartersville (Clarence Brown Conference Center) Click Here.
  • Wednesday, February 7: Athens (The Classic Center) Click Here.
The Georgia Crop Production Alliance 's Annual Meeting in November hosted a great group of ag chem professionals in addition to informative presentations. GAC President Bryan Tolar was pleased to provide a legislative and regulatory update during the general session.
In addition, GCPA recognized GAC Chairman Jimmy Champion with their Lifetime Achievement Award . Jimmy has dedicated his entire career to service in agriculture and has helped lead numerous organizations. His friendly leadership style has always proved productive and infectious. Congratulations to one of Georgia's finest agribusiness leaders!
For workers' comp insurance, GAC has provided our  AgriTrust of Georgia  program for nearly 25 years.  This successful, self-insured program issued a $600,000 dividend in November and has returned over  $6,525,000 in dividends  to date. AgriTrust of Georgia was created by the Council to provide a stable, affordable source of workers’ compensation insurance to the agribusiness industry. We encourage you to consider this proven program for your workers’ compensation insurance needs. For more information about AgriTrust of Georgia, please visit   or call 678-753-0016.  
Understanding OSHA's requirements will help your agribusiness stay in compliance. The highly popular AG-30 training has been developed specifically for agribusiness and is designed for facility managers or assistant managers, safety and health coordinators, EHS staff and personnel with responsibilities for safety and health at the facility. We encourage at least one person per facility receive this training. Sign up today to reserve the class of your choice. Click here for more information or to register .
Also, the 2018 Safety Data Sheets Manual is now available - click here to purchase .
We were pleased to join other cotton industry friends in support of this gin restoration at the ABAC Museum of Agriculture . GAC Foundation and many other GAC members and friends were proud to donate to this project. Great to see the old steam powered cotton gin back in action thanks to the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College staff. Special thanks to ABAC President David Bridges and his staff for spearheading this project. Great reflection on the important history of this industry that is still #1 in Georgia.
A.M. Bickley Inc.
Barrington Dairies
Bay Branch Farms, Inc.
Choice Wood Inc.
Clay Co. & Associates
CSA Farms, Inc.
Curry Farm Supply Inc.
  Davis M. Love III and Robin B. Love  
Docia Farms
Doug Hopkins
Embry Farm Services
GA Ag. Commodity Commission for Tobacco
GA Association of Professional Ag. Consultants
Georgia Seed Association Inc.
Georgia Watermelon Association
Greg Sikes Farm, LLC
Hattaway Farms Partnerships
Israel Farm Supply Inc.
Majors Electric & Mechanical Co., Inc.
Mixon Farms, Inc.
Oak Hill Farm
Pitts Insurance Agency Inc.
Quality Gin, Inc.
Saddle Creek Farm
Shellman Carriers, LLC
Swainsboro Stockyard
Vidalia Onion Business Council
Wild Ridge LLC/Bob White, LLC/Pineywood
Special thanks to our
2017 Star Sponsors!
GAC's Hunter Loggins , along with former Ag Fellow Tess Hammock , was invited to be a guest speaker at UGA's CAES Student Leaders Interested in Career Exploration meeting. The topic for this week's discussion was government affairs careers and how the Ag Fellowship program and our continued support of it has helped numerous students pursue their career goals. These meetings are a chance for students to gain insight on how best to utilize their time at school so they can be better prepared after graduation.
Special "thank you" to U.S. Senator David Perdue for taking the time to speak with commodity leaders and our guests prior to Harvest Celebration. These listening sessions help showcase the impacts of farm programs for growers, conservation, and the importance to the agricultural economy. He was able to engage directly with many people that represent all aspects of agriculture in order to gauge the needs of Georgia's diverse industry.
The Southern Crop Production Association recently initiated the Edgar and Ann Duskin Scholarship in honor of former SCPA President Ed Duskin and his wife. Promoted throughout the southeastern region, it will provide up to four $2,500 scholarships. Applications may be submitted until February 1st, 2018. Submitted applications will be evaluated for the duration of February, March and part of April and newly formed SCPA Scholarship Committee will be notified of the preliminary candidates once they have been determined. The selected recipients will be notified in May 2018. More information is available on page 35 of the FFA scholarship catalog .
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve your agribusiness and this dynamic industry. We are grateful for your support and friendship. The GAC Board of Directors and staff wishes you a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year for your family and coworkers.
* The  Georgia Urban Ag Council will be hosting their annual EDGE Expo on December 7, 2017 at the Infinite Energy Center, formally the Gwinnett Center in Duluth. This is one of the premier events for companies in the turf, landscape, golf, and ornamental industries and the Expo will feature a full day of education and CEUs. Go to for details and registration.
* GAC is proud to promote the nationwide  Trees for Troops Program , sponsored by GAC member Georgia Christmas Tree Association, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and FedEx. The Georgia Christmas Tree Association hopes to have over 1200 trees statewide donated to the Trees for Troops program, which is a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association. You may make contributions to the Trees for Troops program at or .   
* The Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference will be held in Savannah, GA on January 11 - 14. This is a chance to attend educational seminars and visit with vendors at the trade show. Click here to register.
* The 2018 Georgia Dairy Conference will take place in Savannah on January 15 - 17. This event will provide dairy producers and industry leaders with an invaluable opportunity to hear from top educators, industry pioneers and fellow dairymen . Click here for more info and to register.
* The 2018 Georgia Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting is coming up soon from January 21 - 23, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia. GAC is proud to be an exhibitor at this event to promote responsible water conservation and environmental stewardship. Click here for more info.
* Georgia is hosting the Southeastern Soil Summit in Atlanta on January 21-22, 2018 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. This Summit will allow the FDA to give an overview of where they are with the development of Subpart F Biological Soil Amendments as well as give the produce, composting, and compost material suppliers the opportunity to provide input and discussion on what this part of the Rule needs to look like. Click here for full details and registration .
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