2023 Legislative Report Week 10
LEGISLATIVE REPORT WEEK 10
March 17, 2023
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Five Legislative Days Left
- Ag Bills Update
- WOTUS Action Alert
- Bill Introduced Addressing AEWR
- Clean Day Postponed
- Action This Week
- Bills of Interest
- USDA Disaster Assistance
Chairman Robert Dickey and fellow legislators celebrating their victory from this years Legislative Livestock Showdown; Photo Credits: House Media Services
5 Legislative Days Left
This week consisted of legislative days 32 through 35 and we are nearing the final days of the legislative session. The clock is ticking, and legislators are working hard to get their bills passed before the clock strikes midnight on Sine Die. With the end of session drawing near, there is still much work to be done and many bills pertaining to agriculture still in play. While little official action was taken on legislation important to agriculture, GFB staff, industry partners, and legislators have been hard at work positioning our bills for a share of the limited time remaining.
Committee meetings have taken large portions of each day, as the groundwork prior to a vote must take place. The House and Senate Ag Committees both met this week, discussing legislation more in-line with their consumer affairs scope of responsibility. The House and Senate Natural Resources Committees also met to discuss agency legislation and the emotionally charged issues such as proposed mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.
On Tuesday, Governor Brain Kemp signed into law HB 162 which provides for a special state income tax refund of $1 billion for Georgians from the record surplus funds in Georgia's reserve account. Work has also continued on the FY24 budget, and GFB has been advocating for additional funding for various items of importance to Georgia agriculture.
The General Assembly will reconvene next week for three legislative days and one committee workday. The week will end on Thursday with legislative day 38, leaving only two more legislative days of this year's session. Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) will continue to be present every day in the capitol to advocate for Georgia agriculture and represent our members.
Photo: Senators Russ Goodman and Freddie Powell Sims urging their colleagues to support HB 189 during points of personal privilege.
Ag Bills Update
We have seen movement this week on measures important to Georgia Farm Bureau and our members. As the end of sessions gets closer, many issues are coming to a head with each one vying for the support needed to see final passage. Truck weights, farmland conservation, and the foreign ownership of ag land have been three key legislative issues that we have tracked and worked to pass this session. Please see below for updates on where these proposals are as we enter the final days of session.
HB 189, which seeks to raise the allowed variance on gross vehicle weights for commercial trucks, is now in the Senate Transportation Committee after narrowly passing the House. The bill received its first hearing on Tuesday morning, and we are now awaiting a committee vote to send the bill forward to the Rules Committee. There are still ongoing discussions as to what the final language of the bill should be and what industries should be permitted to utilize the increased variance. GFB will continue to report on any changes to the bill as they happen and work to ensure the final legislation is beneficial for Georgia agriculture. We want to thank Rep. Steven Meeks for sponsoring the bill and Sen. Russ Goodman for carrying it in the Senate. In the waning days of session, legislators supporting this priority have been pleading their case for this bill and its importance to agriculture. We ask that you join them and please reach out to your State Senator, particularly if they sit on the Senate Transportation Committee, and urge them to pass HB 189 to put Georgia on an even playing field with our surrounding states.
This week, Sen. Russ Goodman presented the Georgia Farmland Conservation Act, SB 220, in the House Ways and Means Committee. After having two hearings in subcommittee, it unanimously passed out of full committee on Thursday. This bill is a priority of Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper in an effort to combat the rapid loss in agricultural land across our state. In just the last 50 years, there has been a 20% reduction in agricultural land throughout the state. This legislation is a great step in the right direction, and we expect to see the bill on the House floor soon.
Foreign Ownership of Ag Land
Since the start of this year's legislative session, GFB has been engaged on the discussion of limiting the foreign ownership of ag land, in an effort to ensure food security and safety here in our state. HB 452 by Rep. Clay Pirkle did not make it through the House this year but will remain eligible for consideration during next year's session. A similar bill which has passed one chamber is being carried by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), and seeks to limit the foreign ownership of ag land by certain entities deemed to be either foreign adversaries as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce, or other entities from a Country of Particular Concern as determined by the US Secretary of State. It would encompass individuals, foreign governments, and businesses subject to those countries or governments. The bill received its first hearing in the House Agriculture Committee this week.
WOTUS Action Alert
Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once again revised the controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule (WOTUS) of the Clean Water Act that regulates activities near and around certain waterways. Unfortunately, the rule they developed is a significant step backward, reverting to similar regulations experienced prior to 2015. With vague terminology, unclear definitions, and jurisdictional overreach to areas far from navigable waters, this rule can result in significant cost and delay of normal farming operations to even determine if it applies to individuals. Moreover, failure to comply can result in extensive penalties.
Farm Bureau strongly opposes this rule, and we need your help! Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is co-leading a lawsuit against the rule with twenty other states, but we have the opportunity to support a legislative solution while we wait on the courts. The Senate has the ability to use the uncommon Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to disapprove agency regulation that oversteps. The House has already passed this CRA, and we expect that this measure will be voted on by the Senate next week. We ask that you reach out to our U.S. Senators to urge their support.
The new WOTUS rule is set to go into effect on March 20, so time is of the essence. Please click the button below to send an email to Georgia's Senators. A pre-written letter is provided, but feel free to edit with your own insight as you see fit.
Bill Introduced Addressing AEWR
In January, the U.S. Department of Labor's new Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) went into effect, which resulted in a very concerning 14% increase to hourly wages of H-2A temporary agricultural visa workers. Georgia is one of the top states utilizing this program that ensures an adequate workforce to support our number one industry, and this drastic of an increase overnight can be detrimental to farmers already facing record high input costs, weather events, and razor thin margins.
Georgia Farm Bureau has been actively engaged on this issue, seeking relief through various avenues. Many in our congressional delegation have engaged with the Department of Labor to address this issue over the past months. Most recently, a group of county Farm Bureau Presidents traveled to Washington to meet with our delegation, and this topic was a highlight of the discussions.
As work continues, we are pleased to report that Georgia's U.S. Senator Ossoff has remained engaged on the issue since December and filed the "Farm Operations Support Act" (S. 874) yesterday. This legislation will direct the Secretary of Labor to suspend implementation of the new AEWR until December 31, 2023, thereby reverting to last year's wage rate.
"The AEWR formula is imposing on Georgia farmers a sudden and massive increase in costs. The whole country depends upon Georgia farmers for food supply. I'm leading this bipartisan legislation to prevent damage to Georgia's agricultural producers," Sen. Ossoff said.
We are appreciative of his efforts to provide Georgia farmers relief on this front and look forward to working with the Senator and the rest of our delegation to see its passage.
Pesticide Clean Day Event Postponed
The Georgia Department of Agriculture has postponed their Pesticide Clean Day Event for March 29, 2023, 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM at Tri County Gin in Coffee County. Clean Day is a program that gives everyone an opportunity to discard old, unusable, or cancelled pesticides to a hazardous waste contractor for disposal. GFB will update you once a date has been rescheduled for this event.
For more information about the event please contact your local extension agent or click here.
Action This Week
Reps. Jenkins, Pirkle, Knight, Huddleston, and Camp
This bill authorizes the use of ungraded lumber in the construction or repair of any accessory structure not primarily used as habitable space.
Passed House 2/15/2023 & Passed Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/14/2023
Reps. McDonald, Blackmon, Gillard, Meeks, and Barrett
This bill issues a tax return to all qualified taxpayers who filed an individual tax return for both 2021 and 2022. For a single or married taxpayer filing separately, they will receive $250. For a head of household, they will receive $375. For a married couple filing jointly, they will receive $500.
Signed by Governor 3/14/2023
Reps. Smith, Stephens, Knight, Greene, Blackmon, and others
This bill is the enabling legislation for the recently passed constitutional amendment that provides for optional temporary tax relief to certain properties located in nationally declared federal disaster areas. The constitutional amendment on the ballot this past November received a 'yes' vote of nearly 92%.
Sent to Governor 3/15/2023
Reps. Washburn, Bazemore, Reeves, Lim, Ridley, and others.
This bill is known as the "Housing Regulation Transparency Act." It seeks to limit the duration of time that a local government may enact a temporary housing moratorium on properties being developed for residential purposes to 180 days. It also requires that a local government must wait another 180 days before enacting any new temporary housing moratorium once the initial 180-day moratorium is expired. The bill allows for exemptions under certain circumstances including a declared state of emergency, when safety is of concern, a court order, or while a studied is being conducted investigating future development.
Passed House on 3/6/2023 and Passed Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee 3/16/2023
Reps. Cannon, Corbett, Dickey, Rhodes, Houston, and others
This bill would establish the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits.
Passed House 3/2/2023 & Passed Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/14/2023
Reps. Meeks, Jasperse, Corbett, Houston, and Jackson.
This resolution will reauthorize the House Rural Development Council to study how to promote rural Georgia and help develop ideas to ensure rural communities proposer.
Assigned to House Economic Development & Tourism Committee 3/15/2023
Reps. Jenkins, Burchett, Knight, Cheokas, Corbett, and others.
This resolution will create the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater.
Assigned to House Committee 3/16/2023
Sens. Anderson, Ginn, Gooch, Kennedy, Robertson, and others
This bill prohibits local governments from denying the installation of a water well serving a single-family residence situated on a parcel of one acre or more. It would therefore allow for drilling, servicing, or repair of new or existing wells on single-family residential.
Passed Senate 2/23/2023 & Passed House Natural Resource and Environment Committee 3/16/2023
Sens. Still, Dolezal, Robertson, Anavitarte, Payne, and others
This bill would prohibit local regulations that create differing standards for gasoline-powered leaf blowers from similar equipment.
Passed Senate 2/27/2023 & Passed House Governmental Affairs Committee 3/9/2023
Sens. Gooch, Anavitarte, Kennedy, Cowsert, Summers, and others.
This bill requires the Department of Community Affairs to determine locations that are eligible for state and federal funding for broadband services.
Passed Senate 3/6/2023 & Passed House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee 3/15/2023
Sens. Goodman, Watson, Anderson, Walker III, Sims and others
This bill, titled the "Georgia Farmland Conservation Act," would establish the Georgia Farmland Conservation Fund Program for the purpose of conserving agricultural land in the state of Georgia. This would be accomplished through appropriation of state dollars that have the opportunity for federal matching funds, used to fund the acquisition of agricultural conservation easements. The program would be administered by the Department of Agriculture with the help of an advisory council that includes family farmers, executive and legislative branch appointments, and members of statewide farm organizations, including the President of Georgia Farm Bureau. The goal of this program is for the permanent preservation of farmland in our state and the future of our agricultural economy.
Passed Senate 3/6/2023 & Passed House Ways and Means Committee 3/16/2023
Sens. Anavitarte, Gooch, Anderson, Summers, Cowsert and others.
This resolution will form the Senate Study Committee on the Benefits of Solar Energy in Georgia. It will report on the pros and cons of solar generated energy in the state of Georgia.
Assigned to Senate Rules Committee 3/15/2023
Bills Of Interest
Reps. Camp, Mathiak, Lim, Au, and Cameron
This bill would establish the State Board of Veterinary Medicine as an independent agency attached to the Department of Agriculture for administrative purposes. The State Board of Veterinary Medicine serves as the licensing board for veterinarians in the state of Georgia. Currently, this board is administratively attached to the Secretary of State and is under the professional licensing boards division.
Passed House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Corbett, Meeks, Pirkle, Dickey, and Williams
This bill would establish the State Board of Registration for Foresters as an independent agency attached to the State Forestry Commission for administrative purposes. Currently the Board is under the professional licensing boards division of the Secretary of State's office.
Passed House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/23/2023
Reps. Gullett, Parsons, Thomas, Anderson, Meeks, and others
This bill deals with ensuring transparency between buyers and sellers of distributed energy generation systems, including solar energy procurement, and provides access to educational information surrounding contracts and agreements for such systems. It specifically looks to address deceptive business practices seen throughout the state by certain companies selling rooftop solar systems.
Passed House on 2/22/2023 & Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities on 3/1/2023
Reps. Jackson, Hawkins, Cooper, Williams, Beverly, and others
This bill would eliminate the current tax credit available for rural physicians and replace it with a new tax credit of up to $5,000 for each taxable year. The new tax credit would be available to a wider array of health care professionals including dentists, nurse practitioners, physical assistants and more. It also imposes certain restrictions such as a cap on the number of years it can be claimed (5 years) and restrictions on those who are already working in a rural area.
Passed House on 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Finance on 3/7/2023
Reps. Meeks, Burchett, Corbett, Frye, Dickey, and others
This bill would increase the current total gross vehicle weight (GVW) allowed for various trucks and haulers of agricultural commodities and other specified goods to include a 10% variance, allowing for 5-axle trucks to haul up to 88,000lbs. It is important to note that over the past two years we have been operating under various executive orders by Governor Brian Kemp that allowed for trucks to haul up to 95,000lbs (GVW) in an effort to combat supply chain issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and other global market disruptions. Currently, there is a 5% variance allowed for trucks hauling agricultural commodities and other specified goods within 100 miles of the farm.
Passed House 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Transportation 3/7/2023
Reps. Momtahan, Parsons, Dickey, Tarvin, Pirkle, and others
This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of certain types of land or properties, including farms and agricultural land, by Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or North Korean governments, citizens, or companies. It would both prohibit direct ownership but also ownership through majority stock or other specified intertest.
Assigned to House Judiciary Committee 2/7/2023
Reps. Schofield, Drenner, Kennard, Evans and Hutchinson
This bill would require the Public Service Commission to adopt regulations to gradually reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from every electric utility in Georgia, regardless of fuel type. It would require that by 2050 all electricity provided by an electric utility in Georgia be generated from energy sources that produce zero greenhouse gasses.
Assigned to House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee 2/7/2023
Reps. Lewis-Ward, Beverly, Jackson, and Gilliard
This bill would establish the Office of Equity in Agriculture to support current members of socially disadvantaged groups and to encourage the growth of socially disadvantaged groups into the field of agriculture.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/7/2023
Reps. Thomas, Schofield, and Marin
This bill would establish the ability to set up and operate a Microenterprise home kitchen. This would be a noncommercial kitchen facility located in a private home or on a farm where ready-to-eat food is handled, stored, prepared, or offered for sale for consumption off the premises. The kitchen must meet the criteria to be a microenterprise as established by the Department of Economic Development. This bill would exclude food sales establishments, any food production which requires a license by the Dept. of Agriculture, and more.
Heard House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/14/2023
Reps. Smith, Kelley, Williamson, Stephens, and Blackmon
This legislation would establish the Solar Technology Trust Fund and impose a fee of $15 per kilowatt of capacity on retail sales of solar equipment in Georgia. The fees collected would be used by the trust fund for remediation, decommissioning, and disposal of solar equipment, such as solar panels.
Assigned to House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication Committee 2/9/2023
Reps. Dickey, Houston, Gilliard, and Carpenter
Over the past few years there has been discussion over how to address issues with our state's Farmers Markets, some of which are in need of substantial capital repairs and improvements. Several of the markets have also suffered from profitability issues, leading to the temporary closing of certain markets. This bill seeks to establish the Georgia Farmers Market Authority, allowing the state's markets to be run more like a business by retaining the income it generates and using it to operate and improve the markets.
Recommitted to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 3/1/2023
Reps. Scott, Schofield, and Davis
Under this proposal, the Department of Human Services could establish the Healthy Food Development Program, to establish, support, facilitate, and expand access to healthy foods in eligible underserved areas, in coordination with Departments of Economic Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources on an approved application basis.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on 2/9/2023
Reps. LaHood, Parrish, Williams, Jackson, Burchett and others.
This bill seeks to amend the tax credit limit for rural hospital contributions and redefines a rural hospital organization. It would increase the tax credit limit for contributions by corporate donors and increase the aggregate limit for tax credits for contributions to rural hospital organizations. This bill includes a sunset date of December 31, 2023.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee 2/14/2023
Reps. Yearta, Corbett, Cannon, Jasperse, and Franklin
This bill would make it unlawful for anyone other than a secondary metal recycler to sell, purchase, possess, or transport a catalytic convertor. The individual would be charged on a separate offense for every individual catalytic convertor. This, along with other similar pieces of proposed legislation, are in response to increasing frequency of catalytic converter theft in recent years.
Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 2/13/2023
Reps. Williams, Meeks, Rhodes, Dickey, Blackmon, and others
This bill seeks to grant a second round of funding to the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs program. This bill would also increase the application fee and provide an annual maintenance fee.
Passed House Ways and Means Committee 3/2/2023
Reps. Anderson, Williamson, Parsons, Frazier, Jones and others
This bill says no governmental entity of this state shall adopt any policy that restricts or prohibits, or has the effect of restricting or prohibiting, the type or source of energy or fuel to be delivered to a home or the appliance to be used.
Passed House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Houston, Meeks, Dickey, Pirkle
This bill would establish the Farmer's Market Trust Fund allowing for the state farmers markets to retain fees and utilize them to repair and maintain those farmers markets and for marketing and promotion of Georgia agricultural goods.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/16/2023
Reps. Knight, Corbett, Rhodes, Cannon, and Pirkle
This bill would do away with an exemption provided in the Conservation Use Value Assessment (CUVA) program that allows for the installation of solar panels on land within a CUVA covenant, so long as that portion of the land is removed from the covenant and the specified breach penalty is paid. That penalty in current law is less than what must be paid for a normal breach on a property that is subject to a covenant. Under this proposal, installing solar panels on land enrolled in CUVA would constitute a breach of the covenant, and the full penalty would have to be paid.
Passed House Ways and Means Committee 3/3/2023
Reps. Pirkle, Jasperse, Meeks, Rhodes, Knight, and others
This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by any non-resident alien, government, or business from a country considered to be foreign adversary as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict ownership by those individuals, governments, and businesses of any land that is within a 25 mile radius of a military facility. The bill does allow for possession in certain special circumstances such as through an inheritance or for the collection of debts, but the land must be dispersed after a specified period of time.
Passed House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/28/2023
Reps. Pirkle, Corbett, Williams, and Rhodes
This bill seeks to make changes to the current hemp law to ensure the safety of the products being sold and marketed here in Georgia by requiring certain labeling and testing requirements for all consumable hemp products. It clearly defines hemp products, consumable hemp products, and industrial hemp products to distinguish between the different usages of hemp plants. It seeks make changes to the licensing and registration process and fee structure for growers, processors, and retailers. This bill also requires a person to be 21 years old to purchase consumable hemp products, be the target of certain marketing, or receive samples of consumable hemp products in stores.
Passed House 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee 3/7/2023
Reps. Leverett, Petrea, Prince, and Jackson
This bill seeks to address issues with bad actors improperly applying soil amendments through increased notification requirements and delegation of enforcement authority to certain local governments. GFB is actively monitoring this bill and has been in discussions with the sponsor to work towards an appropriate and balanced solution to the issue.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/21/2023
Reps. Drenner, Carter, Evans, Davis, and Thomas
This bill creates a definition for what is an overburdened community and seeks to establish a special permitting process and environmental justice considerations that must be followed for an individual or entity to build or expand certain types of facilities in an overburdened community.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment 2/22/2023
Reps. Drenner, Carter, Evans, Davis, and Thomas
This bill is titled Georgia Environmental Justice Act of 2023. It establishes the Environmental Justice Commission to oversee the permitting of certain projects in low-income and minority neighborhoods.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Barnes, Beverly, Clark, Au, Oliver, and others.
This bill seeks to provide free school meals to all public-school students who qualify for the reduced-price meals under federal and state guidelines. It encourages the use of Georgia Grown products in school breakfast and lunch programs to promote Georgia agriculture and healthy eating.
Assigned to House Education Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Gilliard, Stephens, Willis, and Thomas
This bill, titled the "Georgia Hemp Industry Growth and Business Partnership Tax Credit Act," provides for a tax credit for costs of doing business with Georgia Grown hemp owners and suppliers.
Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 2/23/2023
Reps. Lewis-Ward, Beverly, Bentley, Jackson, and Schofield
This bill would require the Department of Agriculture to spend no less than 5% of the entire marketing and promotion budget on minority or women owned agricultural enterprises.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Cheokas, Collins, Hitchens, Yearta, and Washburn
This bill would allow a county to establish a trespass enforcement program to provide any participating owner or rightful occupant of property with a method for designating any peace officer with the local law enforcement agency as his or her authorized representative for purposes of enforcing criminal trespass.
Assigned to House Public Safety and Homeland Security 2/27/2023
Reps. Cameron, Camp, Campbell, Hagan, and Huddleston
This bill is tilted the Healthy Food Development Program Act. It allows for the Department of Human Services to coordinate with the Department of Economic Development to create the Healthy Food Development Program. They could provide grants, loans, state tax credits, equipment, other financial assistance or technical assistance to grocery stores, corner stores, farmers' markets, or other retailers.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Hagan, Gaines, Camp, and Clark
This bill creates the cottage food operator license for a person who produces homemade food items at a residential property for sale to a consumer. They will be permitted to only sale non-potentially hazardous foods - foods that do not require temperature control for safety. A license must be obtained through the Department of Agriculture for $100 per year to obtain this license. This bill exempts cottage food operators from inspection but grants the Department the power to conduct an inspection upon complaint.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Balinger, Jasperse, Ridley, Byrd, Thomas, Scoggins
This resolution recognizes Shirley Pahl, program coordinator and office manager for the Cherokee County Farm Bureau, for her collaboration with legislators, leadership within the county, and dedicated service to her community. The members of the State House of Representatives congratulate her on her retirement and extends their best wishes.
House Read and Adopted 1/24/2023
Reps. Williams, Petrea, Dickey, Corbett, Rhodes, and others
This resolution proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would reduce the rate of ad-valorem tax assessment on timber at the time of sale or harvest. The proposal would require that the state appropriate funds annually to each county or municipality to compensate for any loss in revenue.
Passed House 3/2/2023 & Assigned to Senate Finance Committee 3/6/2023
Reps. Dickey, Leverett, Washburn, Fleming, Pirkle, and others
This resolution recognizes February 14, 2023, as Georgia Farm Bureau Federation Day at the capitol.
House Adopted 2/7/2023
Reps. Bennett, Jenkins, Dempsey, Lewis-Ward, Newton, and others
This resolution establishes the House Healthy Food Retail Study Committee to investigate the lack of access to healthy foods in both rural and urban areas.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/15/2023
Reps. Drenner and Thomas
This is a resolution creating the House Study Committee on Environmental Justice. This committee will study the impact of pollution and hazardous materials on low-income neighborhoods or neighborhoods consisting primarily of minorities.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/22/2023
Sens. Hatchett, Ginn, Albers, Robertson, Kennedy and others
Last year, Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) introduced 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. GFB along with other interested organizations worked closely with Sen. Hatchett to seek a solution that alleviated their business expenses by allowing for limited cash payment (up to $100) for deposits excluding utility wire, communications copper, copper wire, batteries, or catalytic converters. The bill did not receive final passage last year, so Sen. Hatchett has reintroduced SB 60, which is nearly identical to last year's legislation. It seeks to find a reasonable balance between deterrence of widespread metal theft while still allowing for a business-friendly environment. We appreciate Sen. Hatchett working with all interested parties to find a solution that also provides specific carve outs for the items and metal property most commonly stolen from farms and agricultural operations.
Passed Senate 2/13/23 & Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 2/15/2023
Sens. Kirkpatrick, Robertson, Hufstetler, Payne, Butler, and others
This bill seeks to address licensing, testing, and retail sales of consumable hemp products. It puts in place certain testing requirements for consumable hemp products, establishes a licensing structure with the associated fees, and addresses certain issues surrounding the offering of hemp samples to anyone under 21 years of age. The bill also puts in place specific labeling requirements for retail consumable hemp products.
Recommitted to Senate Rules Committee 2/22/2023
Sens. Jackson, Goodman, Summers and Butler
This bill, called the "Georgia Hemp Farming Act," would change the limitations for individuals seeking a license or permit to grow hemp. It would change current law to allow individuals who are convicted of a misdemeanor involving the sale of a controlled substance, to apply for and be given a license or permit to grow industrial hemp. It would also allow someone convicted of a felony to apply for and receive a license or permit after 10 years has passed from said felony.
Recommitted to Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 2/28/2023
Sens. Beach, Dolezal, Goodman, Summers, Anderson, and others
This bill would prohibit the purchase of agricultural land by a non-resident foreign alien who is subject to a government that is considered a foreign adversary as defined by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict the purchase of agricultural land by any government of, or business domiciled in a country subject to a government that is considered a foreign adversary. There are provisions within the bill that would also limit the foreign ownership of land near certain military instillations.
Passed Senate 3/2/2023 & Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs 3/6/2023
Sens. Anderson, Brass, Burns, Anavitarte, Robertson and others
This bill changes the definition of what is considered a dangerous or vicious dog. This bill revises the definition to include the following: a dog who is unprovoked barking, growling, or snarling, aggressively running along fence lines, or escaping confinement when people are present. It requires the owner of a dangerous dog as defined by the bill to maintain a $500,000 insurance policy covering any damage or bodily harm caused by the dog.
Assigned to Senate Insurance and Labor Committee 2/13/2023
Sens. Goodman, Sims, Walker, Brass, Mallow, and others
This bill is a companion bill to HB 189. The current state law sets the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of any 5-axle truck at 80,000lbs. Agriculture and forestry receives a 5% variance exemption to allow them to haul 84,000lbs. The bill would allow for these industries and a few additional ones to haul using a 12.5% variance, setting allowable weights at 90,000lbs. This bill only pertains to state roads. Due to federal regulations, trucks traveling on interstates are only allowed to haul at 80,000lbs with no variances.
Heard by Senate Transportation Committee 2/27/2023
Sens. Jones, Goodman, Butler, Hickman, and Sims
This bill is entitled the "Food Insecurity Eradication Act." It establishes the Georgia Food Security Advisory Council under the Georgia Department of Agriculture to advise the General Assembly on ways to alleviate food insecurity in the state.
Passed Senate 3/6/2023 & Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/7/2023
Sens. Dolezal, Still, Gooch, Kennedy, Watson and others
This legislation deals with premises liability action and seeks to make changes to tort law provisions that are significant to landowners. It states no landowner shall be liable in a premises liability action to anyone who is injured on the landowner's property as the result of the willful, wanton, or intentionally tortious conduct of any third party who is not a director, officer, employee, or agent of the landowner unless the invitee can prove specific items as laid out by the legislation.
Senate Tabled 3/6/2023
Sens. Jones, Harbison, Rahman, Merrit, Butler and others
This bill is entitled the Right to Repair Act. It seeks to require manufactures of digital and electronic products to provide diagnostic and repair information, parts, and tools to independent repair providers.
Assigned to Senate Science and Technology Committee 2/27/2023
Sens. Walker, Goodman, Dixon, Echols, Anderson
This resolution recognizes February 21, 2023, as FFA Day at the Capitol and acknowledges the positive impact that FFA has on youth in Georgia.
Senate Read and Adopted 1/24/2023
Sens. Walker, Goodman, Dixon, Echols, Sims, Anderson, and others
Recognizes February 8, 2023, as 4-H Day at the Capitol and commemorates the achievements of outstanding students within the organization this year.
Senate Read and Adopted 1/25/2023
Sens. Goodman, Anderson, Walker, Sims, Watson, and others
This resolution acknowledges February 8th, 2023, as Georgia Young Farmers Association Day at the Capitol and commemorates the work done by the members of this organization.
Senate Adopted 2/07/2023
Sens. Goodman, Anderson, Walker, Sims, Watson, and others
This resolution recognizes February 14, 2023 as Georgia Farm Bureau Federation Day at the capitol, and commends President Tom McCall for his leadership in Georgia agriculture.
Senate Read and Adopted 2/13/2023
Sens. Anavitarte, Gooch, Kennedy, Dolezal, Robertson and others
This resolution would create the Senate Truck Driver Shortages Study Committee.
Assigned to Senate Rules Committee 2/16/2023
Disaster and Pandemic Assistance Programs
Starting Jan 23, agricultural producers can begin to apply for two new important programs for revenue losses, from 2020 and 2021 natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic. Both programs equitably fill gaps in earlier assistance.
First, you may be eligible for assistance through the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two if you experienced revenue losses from eligible natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. ERP Phase Two is for producers who didn't receive assistance from ERP Phase One.
You may also be eligible for the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) if you experienced revenue losses in calendar year 2020. PARP is addressing gaps in previous pandemic assistance, which was targeted at price loss or lack of market access, rather than overall revenue losses.
Applications for both new programs are due June 2, 2023, and you can apply for both programs during your same appointment with USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Historically, FSA programs have been designed to make direct payments to producers based on a single disaster event or for a single commodity loss. For many of you, this may be the first revenue-based program that you've applied for with FSA. Please click the button below for more information.
Dates to Remember
Please see below for a list of upcoming events related to Georgia Agriculture:
- March 6: Georgia Cattleman's Steak Biscuit Day
Not a Member Georgia Farm Bureau? Join Today!
The Georgia Farm Bureau Federation has a membership of almost 250,000 and serves as state's the largest general farm organization. Our goal is to provide leadership and assistance to the agricultural sector, to promote farm products, to aid in ag-related procurement, to be a spokesman for the farmer in the legislative arena, to be a leader in the development and expansion of farm markets, and to strive for more agricultural research and educational funds and facilities.
With members in all 159 Georgia counties, Georgia Farm Bureau is dedicated to promoting and improving agriculture in our counties, state and nation and in continually improving and expanding our service-to-member programs which serve to enhance the quality of life for all Georgians.
Membership in Georgia Farm Bureau is open to everyone. You don't need to be a farmer or have insurance with us to join Farm Bureau!
If you would like to become a member of Georgia Farm Bureau, you can start your membership online right now! We have a simple application process, and you can be our newest member in just a couple of minutes. Click the button below or use our County Office Locator to find the office nearest you.
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Public Policy Department Staff
Alex Bradford, Director
Adam Belflower, Governmental Affairs Specialist
Raynor Churchwell, Agricultural Programs Manager
Renee Jones, Operations Coordinator
Jake Matthews, Governmental Affairs Specialist
Jeremy Taylor, Agricultural Programs Specialist
Keaton Walker, Advocacy and Policy Development Specialist