Legislative Session Report Week 8

March 13, 2020

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The General Assembly met at the Capitol this week for days 26 through 29 of the 2020 Legislative Session, with Crossover Day taking place on Thursday. In an unprecedented move, the House and Senate both agreed to be suspended until further notice due to the quick spread of COVID-19, the Coronavirus, across the state.


The first half of the week was business as usual as both the House and the Senate worked to move bills through their respective chambers before Crossover. Due to the suspended schedule and Speaker David Ralston's wishes for all legislators to return to their homes, Friday's legislative day 29 took place in an eerily quiet, solemn fashion in which only the Speaker Ralston and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan were present in their respective chambers to gavel in and hear new bills for the first time following Crossover Day. Prior to the announcement that the General Assembly would be suspended until further notice, the House and Senate both released their respective schedules for the remainder of the 2020 Legislative Session, which was set to officially sine die on Thursday, April 2. That date will now very likely change. We will be pausing our weekly legislative reports until the General Assembly reconvenes but will share any timely information relating to the remainder of the 2020 Legislative Session as it becomes available. 


Once we return to the Capitol, we will be able to narrow our focus to the bills that made their way across the Capitol from one chamber to the other. To read about the remaining bills affecting Georgia agriculture, as well as those that will no longer be under consideration this 2020 Legislative Session, please see the Action This Week, Bills of Interest, and Bills That Did Not Cross Over sections below.


With all of the commotion surrounding Crossover Day and the Coronavirus, House Bill 545 remained tabled in the Senate this week. Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Public Policy staff and allied industry groups continue to work both in and out of the Capitol to squash misinformation and educate legislators and consumers on the true intent of the bill. 


Our members have remained steadfast in their efforts to advocate for the bill and their right to farm. We appreciate those who have taken to social media and other news outlets to share their personal stories through on-farm videos and testimonials. The fight is not over - in fact, it is imperative that we continue to push the issue within the General Assembly until the bill is passed. Misinformation from environmental groups continues to inundate the halls of the Capitol, and we must continue to negate these false statements with facts. If you have not taken to social media to share your own story, we encourage you to do so. Be sure to tag your legislators and include the hashtag #ProtectMyFarm in any posts that you make or share.


GFB has created a landing page to aid in the promotion of House Bill 545. Please share this page with your legislators so that they can familiarize themselves with the bill and debunk any myths that have been promoted by the opposition. Agriculture is the number one industry in the state of Georgia. Without a strong right to farm law, our farmers could be subjected to frivolous nuisance lawsuits, which could upend their operations and bankrupt their families. It is vital that we pass House Bill 545 to preserve the production of food and fiber in our state.


Those in opposition of House Bill 545 are not letting up in their efforts to derail the bill and jeopardize the future of Georgia's #1 industry. Our strength as an organization lies in our membership - it is our grassroots advocacy that can, and will, push House Bill 545 across the finish line. Click the "Take Action" button below to contact your legislators and encourage them to support House Bill 545 when the session reconvenes.



This week, the House passed the amended FY2021 budget. Updates to the original budget are as follows:

Department of Agriculture
Restored $6,391,909 of the Governor’s recommended cut to the Department’s total budget, resulting in a minor cut of ($149,942). 

The House passed budget includes:

  • Funding for two animal industry inspectors and five food safety inspectors with various position eliminations coming from vacant positions. 
  • Salary adjustments to address a 17% turnover rate among inspectors – $580,057
  • Development of the Georgia Hemp Program per HB 213 – $500,000
  • Reduces cut for Georgia Grown Marketing from ($920,765) to ($348,000).
  • Georgia Soil & Water – adds an E&S Plan Reviewer Position


Department of Revenue
Includes Forestland Protection Grants for counties – $14,072,351


UGA Cooperative Extension
Restored $2,518,786 to the total budget, resulting in a 2.01% cut instead of the Governor’s 5.22% proposed cut.

  • Maintains funds for jointly funded positions with UGA Experiment: three crop and soil science positions, one entomologist, food science position, plant pathologist, and two public service positions.
  • Maintains state funds for 21 research positions to support the agriculture industry. 
  • Maintains 10 extension agent positions. 


UGA Experiment Station
Restored $2,406,998 to the total budget, resulting in a 1.25% cut instead of the Governor’s 3.86% proposed cut.

  • Maintains 21 research positions that support the agriculture industry. 


Forestry Commission
Restored $572,546 to the total budget, resulting in a 2.38% cut instead of the Governor’s 3.42% proposed cut.


Georgia General Obligation Bonds

  • $2.5M, 20-year bonds for renovations at Daisy Lewis Cabin at Camp John Hope & Mobley Hall at Georgia FFA/FCCLA Center.
  • $2.2M, 5-year bonds for Phase 1 of the Poultry Science Complex at UGA. 
  • $1.1M, 5-year bonds Agriculture Facilities – ABAC
  • Forestry Commission: firefighting equipment, vehicles, facility renovations – $4.25M
  • Georgia Department of Agriculture: farmers markets, Georgia National Fair, etc. $2.66M.


At the end of February, Governor Kemp announced details surrounding the $347 million in federal block grant funds that the state has secured to combat the devastation incurred by Hurricane Michael. More than 16 months after the storm, the state will begin accepting applications for block grant funds next week.


Georgia farmers and forest landowners in 95 eligible counties, who suffered losses to beef, dairy, fruit and vegetable, pecan, poultry, timber, and uninsured infrastructure, will need to enroll in the recovery program beginning March 18. The federal block grants seek to help recover losses not covered under existing USDA Farm Service Agency programs. A map of eligible counties is below.


Only online applications will be accepted. While mobile phones may be used to sign up and log in, applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the application using a computer to ensure proper upload and attachment of required documents. All applications must be completed and submitted by April 8, 2020.


Between now and March 18, we encourage you to use the application guide to begin collecting relevant documents and information so that you will be able to submit your application quickly and efficiently when the sign up period begins. We also invite you to visit the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Farm Recovery website here.


Additionally, this week the House agreed to the Senate's amended version of Representative Sam Watson's House Bill 105. It is now headed to the Governor's desk for for his signature. HB 105 exempts payments from USDA as part of a disaster relief payment or program in connection to Hurricane Michael from state income tax. Georgia Farm Bureau commends Rep. Watson as well as the entire General Assembly for their support of this bill and much needed recovery for Georgia's farmers.


Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced additional disaster assistance available to agricultural producers, including producers impacted by drought and excess moisture. Through WHIP+, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping producers recover from losses related to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.


USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup on March 23 for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excess moisture. 


“It’s true that farmers and ranchers are no strangers to the impact natural disasters have on their operations, but disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless and unforgiving,” Secretary Perdue said. “In some instances, producers have suffered multiple disaster events in one year or in several years back-to-back. I am pleased that Congress has afforded USDA the authority to continue providing much-needed assistance to producers who have lost so much these last few years. President Trump has the backs of our farmers, and we aim to support them as they recover.”


In June 2019, more than $3 billion was made available through a disaster relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. In December 2019, Congress passed, and President Trump signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 that provides an additional $1.5 billion for the continuation of disaster assistance program delivery.


WHIP+ New Qualifying Disaster Events
The Appropriations bill added excessive moisture and D3 and D4 drought as qualifying losses for WHIP+ assistance.


Beginning March 23, producers who suffered either of these types of loss in 2018 and/or 2019 can apply for WHIP+ assistance at their local FSA office. For drought, a producer is eligible if any area of the county in which the loss occurred was rated D3 (Extreme Drought) or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor during calendar years 2018 or 2019.


WHIP+ for Quality Loss
In addition, producers have reported widespread crop quality loss from eligible disaster events that results in price deductions or penalties when marketing the damaged crops. The Appropriations bill expands WHIP+ to include assistance for crop quality loss. FSA is gathering data and input from producers and stakeholders regarding the extent and types of quality loss nationwide.


“Providing assistance for quality loss is complicated, and we are actively gathering data and input on how to administer quality loss assistance for producers,” said Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Bill Northey.



To be eligible for WHIP+, producers must have suffered losses of certain crops, trees, bushes, or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation (primary counties only) for the following named natural disaster events; hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, wildfires, and now excessive moisture that occurred in 2018 or 2019. Also, losses located in a county not designated by the Secretary as a primary county may be eligible if the producer provides documentation showing that the loss was due to a qualifying natural disaster event.


For drought, counties having a D3 or D4 Drought Monitor classification in any portion of the county anytime during calendar year 2018 or 2019 will also be eligible.


A list of counties that received qualifying hurricane declarations and designations is available at The U.S. Drought Monitor is available at


Because livestock losses are covered by other disaster recovery programs offered through FSA, these losses are not eligible for WHIP+.


Officials from the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office will be hosting a field hearing at the Rainwater Conference Center in Valdosta, GA on April 9 at 9:00 a.m. to discuss foreign trade practices that may be harming American growers. USTR is hoping to hear from Georgia farmers on this issue and learn more about how the Trump Administration can support producers and redress any unfair harm. U.S. Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) and officials from the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are expected to participate in the field hearing. We encourage Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) members who have been impacted by potential unfair trade practices to attend the meeting, as it will be a great opportunity to share your personal story directly with federal officials who have the power to investigate such matters. If you would like to learn more about the field hearing or find out what you need to do in order to participate, we invite you to click here to review the meeting notice from USTR. You may also contact GFB’s Public Policy Department for further information. 


As an abundance of caution and protection of our members amid the COVID-19 outbreak, it has been determined that the 2020 Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Presidents' Trip to Washington, originally scheduled for March 31 - April 2, will not take place. We always look forward to this trip and the opportunity it provides for our county leaders to be able to meet with their members of Congress to advocate for the needs of Georgia farmers. However, with the virus spreading at a rapid rate, Capitol Hill has closed itself to visitors, and the District will very likely soon see a mass exodus of legislators as they head home to be with their families during this time. We feel that it is in our organization's best interest to not move forward with the trip at this time. We anticipate additional trips to Washington, D.C. later this year, but those details have not yet been arranged. We appreciate our members for understanding this decision, and look forward to bringing our presidents to D.C. again next year.


HB 545: Right to Farm
Reps. McCall, Burns, England, Watson, Pirkle, and Dickey
This legislation seeks to strengthen and protect farmers from loopholes in our states right to farm laws. This clarification in language helps producers by clearing up language that is vague and could be interpreted in ways detrimental to agriculture.
Passed the House on 3/7/19. Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Favorably Reported By Substitute on 2/5/20.


HB 690: Exempting Agricultural Structures From Permitting Fees
Reps. Burchett, McCall, Pirkle, Rhodes, Corbett
This bill seeks to exempt agricultural structures from excess permitting fees.
Passed the House by Substitute on 3/12/20.


HB 886: Animal Microchips and Reporting
Reps. Welch, McCall, Knight
This bill would require veterinarians or veterinary technicians that provide treatment to animals to scan such animals' microchips and to report ownership information under certain circumstances.
Passed the House on 3/12/20.


HB 1015: Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry Tax Credits
Allows for building materials and timber products to be included in the Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry for tax credits.
Passed the House by Substitute on 3/12/20.


HB 1057: Regulation of Soil Amendments
Reps. Rhodes, Fleming, Erwin, Frye
This bill would authorize further regulation of soil amendments derived from industrial by-products by local governments.
Passed the House by Substitute on 3/12/20.


HB 1093: Establishing an Agricultural Commodity Commission for Wine and Grapes
Reps. Meeks, McCall, Pirkle, Ridley, Watson
This bill would allow for the establishment of an Agricultural Commodity Commission for Wine and Grapes.
Passed the House on 3/12/20.


SB 338: Animal Protection
Sens. Kirkpatrick, Black, Walker, Cowsert, Anderson, Sims
This bill would require licenses for pet dealers, kennels, stables, etc., and would also allow the Commissioner to promulgate rules and regulations for animal protection. 
Passed the Senate on 3/10/20.


SB 358: Muscadine as State Grape
Sens. Harper, Sims, Burke, Walker, Black, Karinshak
This bill would designate the muscadine grape as the official state grape.
Passed the Senate on 3/10/20.


SB 362: Livestock Straying
Sens. Wilkinson, Anderson, Harper, Burke, Rahman
This bill would change the fees for impounding animals and disposing of impounding animals that are running at large or straying.
Passed the Senate on 2/28/20. House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Favorably Reported on 3/12/20.


SB 381: Georgia Food Act
Sens. Kirkpatrick, Burke, Black, Walker, Wilkinson, Rahman
This would deem certain information obtained by the Department of Agriculture from the Federal Food and Drug Administration confidential and not subject to disclosure.
Passed the Senate on 3/10/20.


This year is a significant one in Georgia as we are positioned to elect a President and not one, but two, U.S. Senators, as well as a number of U.S. Representatives. As Election Day nears, Georgia Farm Bureau's Public Policy team will keep you up to date on what is happening in the political arena to ensure that you are prepared to make well-educated, informed decisions at the ballot box. 


Presidential Primary
Georgia's Presidential Primary will be held on Tuesday, March 24. The deadline to register to vote in the primary was February 24, 2020. Visit the Georgia Secretary of State's website to check your voter registration status. Other key dates related to Georgia's Presidential Primary are below.

  • March 14: Saturday Voting
  • March 24: Georgia's Presidential Primary


Hosted by John Holcomb, Jay Stone, and Katie Duvall, "Growing On" is a new podcast produced by Georgia Farm Bureau, covering agriculture related issues and topics to help promote and advocate for Georgia agriculture as well as educate consumers about the production of food and modern farming practices. 

Listen Now


HB 23: EMC Authorization to Provide Broadband Services
Reps. Houston, Powell, England, Watson, Corbett, and Greene
House Bill 23 is another bill to come out of the Rural Development Council. This bill authorizes electric membership corporations (EMC) to establish or partner with another entity to provide broadband services to its members independent from its electrical services. This bill will also allow for EMCs to apply for federal grants to provide broadband.
Passed the House on 2/11/19. Assigned to Regulated Industries and Utilities.

HB 455: Georgia Agriculture Marketing Authority
Reps. Houston, England, McCall, Gilliard, and Stovall
This bill creates the Georgia Agriculture Marketing Authority, the purpose of the authority is to manage the facilities and activities of farmers markets. The Authority will market and promote agricultural products to agribusinesses and the public in an effort to boost the state's economy.
Passed the House on 3/5/19. Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.


HB 777: Tall Mass Timber Construction
Reps. Corbett, Burns, McCall, England, Smith, LaRiccia
This bill would allow for the Department of Community Affairs to review the 2021 International Building Code so as to consider amending the state minimum standard codes to allow tall mass timber construction types.
Passed the House on 2/20/20. Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Favorably Reported on 3/05/20. 


HB 829: Authorize Reduction of Residential Homestead Property Assessment
Reps. Stephens and Harrell
This bill would allow for local governments to hold a referendum to reduce the 40% assessment of residential homestead property owned by those aged 65 or older to only 20%. This would only apply to local school district taxes for educational purposes. 
Passed the House by Substitute on 3/03/20. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee on 3/04/20


HB 847: Hemp Regulation Updates
Reps. Corbett, McCall, Dickey, Pruett, and Gilliard
This update to the hemp legislation that was passed last legislative session makes technical adjustments to comply with federal rules, creates a new license for a hemp nursery grower allowing sale to another permittee, sets the initial processor permit fee at $25,000, increases the automatic renewal fee from $10,000 to $50,000 after the first calendar year, and establishes a sampling test requirement prior to harvest.
Passed the House by Substitute on 3/05/20.


HB 882: Tax Exemption for Food Banks
Reps. Houston, Rich, Corbett, Greene, Cheokas
This bill would eliminate the sunset period for the exemption from state and certain local sales and use taxes for the sale of food and food ingredients to qualified food banks and for the use of food and food ingredients donated to qualified nonprofit agencies. It would also expand the exemption for the use of food and food ingredients donated to qualified nonprofit agencies to include disaster relief.
Passed the House on 3/04/20. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee on 3/05/20.


HB 897: Uniform Timber Harvest Ordinance
Reps. Burchett, Burns, McCall, Corbett, Rhodes, Watson
This would provide for a uniform timber harvest ordinance statewide and establish a statewide notification process by the Georgia Forestry Commission. 
Passed the House on 3/04/20. Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/05/20.


HB 966: Regulating the Harvest and Sale of Palmetto Berries
Sens. Burchett, Corbett, Pirkle, McCall, Ridley, Rhodes
This bill would regulate the harvest, sale, and personal home use of palmetto berries. 
Passed the House by Substitute on 3/03/20. Assigned to Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee on 3/04/20.


SB 211: Meat Labeling
Sens. Harper, Wilkinson, Black, Anderson, Walker, Heath
This bill will prohibit the sale and advertisement of nonanimal and non-slaughtered animal flesh from being called meat.
Passed the Senate on 3/7/19. Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.


SB 346: State Board of Veterinary Medicine
Sens. Black, Burke, Anderson, Harrell, Payne
This bill would allow for the addition of a veterinary technician to the State Board of Veterinary Medicine as well as provide a professional health program for impaired veterinarians.
Passed the Senate on 3/03/20. Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/04/20.


SB 396: Pecan as State Nut
Sens. Walker, Wilkinson, Black, Anderson, Hill, Burke
This bill would designate the pecan as the official state nut.
Passed the Senate on 3/02/20. Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/03/20.


SB 407: Regulating the Harvest and Sale of Palmetto Berries
Sens. Harper, Heath, Burke, Harrell, Ginn
This bill would regulate the harvest, sale, and personal home use of palmetto berries. 
Assigned to Natural Resources and Environment.

The following bills did not cross chambers and will no longer be under consideration for the 2020 Legislative Session. 

HB 13: Livestock & Rodeo Sales Tax Exemption
Reps. Williams, Mathiak, McCall, Blackmon, and Jones
This bill will provide an exemption from sales tax on the entry fee or admission of non-profit livestock, horse shows, or rodeo events and exhibits. This exemption will apply to any participation fees paid for entrants and any admission paid by the public.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee.


HB 22: Telephone Cooperatives Authorization for Broadband Services
Reps. Houston, Powell, England, Watson, Corbett, and Greene
House Bill 22 is a bill that comes from a recommendation of the Rural Development Council. This bill will authorize telephone cooperatives and their broadband affiliates to provide broadband services to its members, as well as, apply for federal grants to provide broadband.
Assigned to House Economic Development and Tourism Committee.


HB 49: Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Interbasin Transfers
Reps. Morris, Jones, Tanner, Lumsden, Powell, and Carpenter
House Bill 49 relates to water supply and water conservation plan in the Metropolitan Georgia Water Planning District to allow for certain interbasin transfers on rivers with an annual flow of at least 15 billion gallons per day at the withdrawal point.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.
HB 104: Boll Weevil Eradication Tax Exemption
Reps. Watson, Powell, McCall, Meeks, and Pirkle
This bill would propose a constitutional amendment to provide the Boll Weevil Eradication program an ad valorem tax exemption for all of their supplies used for trapping, baiting, luring, and pesticides, as it regards to detecting and preventing the return of boll weevils.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee.

HB 286: Right to Repair
Reps. Turner, Pirkle, and Dickey
House Bill 286 is known as the Right to Repair Act. This bill would require a manufacturer to provide documents, tools, and parts that are necessary for diagnostic, maintenance, or repair services on digital electronic equipment to independent service providers.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
HB 371: Securing Animals in the Back of Motor Vehicles
Reps. Drenner, McCall, Powell, Williams, Trammell
This bill would require a person to secure or contain a live animal in the back of a motor vehicle if the vehicle is within the arc of Interstate 285 and on any portion on Interstates 20,75 or 85 or Georgia Highway 400.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.


HB 592: Surface Mining in FLPA
Reps. Meeks, Corbett, England, and Rhodes
House Bill 592 would provide for under certain circumstances for short-term mineral surface mining to not be considered a breach of FLPA. The property would remain under the covenant only if they return the property to premining condition within three years.
Assigned to Natural Resources and Environment.


HB 709: Daylight Savings Time
Reps. Cantrell, Burns, Trammell, Gravley, McCall, Caldwell
House Bill 709 would allow for a referendum election to determine whether or not the state should continue to observe Daylight Savings Time or observe Standard Time year-round.
Assigned to State Planning and Affairs.


HB 850: Uniform Referendums for Local Option Sales Taxes
Reps. Ridley, Harrell, Jasperse, Tarvin, Gravley, Gullett
This would require all referendums on local option sales tax to be held in November general elections.
Assigned to Ways and Means.


HB 919: Tax Deduction on Timber Casualty Losses
Reps. Hatchett, Jasperse, Burns, England, McCall, Watson
This bill would provide a deduction from Georgia taxable income for casualty losses of timber in an amount based on the diminution of value. 
Assigned to Ways and Means.


HB 926: Waste Management Tire Disposal Restrictions and Fees
Reps. Rogers, Lott, LaRiccia, Corbett, Reeves
This would increase certain solid waste disposal surcharges, particularly relating to waste management tire disposal restrictions and fees and would increase certain tire disposal fees.
Natural Resources and Environment Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/05/20.


HR 930: Endorse Stand4Forests Platform and its Objectives
Reps. Gilliard and Clark 
This resolution seeks to support the objectives of Stand4Forests, who oppose forestry practices and the use of forest products under the justification of climate change, pollution, socioeconomic impacts, and other reasons.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.


SB 45: "Rural Georgia Jobs and Growth Act"
Sens. Beach, B. Jones, Mullis, Harbison, E. Jones, Sims
Senate Bill 45 would provide for pari-mutuel horse racing in the state at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers, create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission, and provide for the comprehensive regulation of pari-mutuel horse racing and related activities.
Assigned to State Institutions and Property.


SB 76: Veterinary Nurses
Sens. Black, Wilkinson, Harper, Anderson, Burke, and Karinshak
This bill has been proposed in order to change terms used by the State Board of Veterinarians. This bill would change the term veterinary technician to veterinary nurses.
Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.


SB 461: Regulation of Soil Amendments
Sens. Anderson, Black, Dugan, Ginn, Stone, B. Jones
This bill would authorize further regulation of soil amendments derived from industrial by-products by local governments.
Assigned to Natural Resources and Environment on 2/28/20. 


SR 84: Propose Pari-mutuel Betting on Horse Racing
Sen. Beach
Senate Resolution 84 proposes an amendment to the Constitution so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and to provide for the disposition of licensing and taxation revenues from such activities.
Assigned to Economic Development and Tourism.


SR 818: Right to Register and Vote
Sens. Dolezal, Brass, Robertson, Miller, Gooch, Harper
SR 818 proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Georgia so as to clarify that only citizens of the United States shall have a right to vote in elections in this state.
Tabled in the Senate on 3/12/20.


In late March, you will begin receiving requests to complete the 2020 Census. Georgia Farm Bureau is proud to be partnering with the Governor's Complete Count Committee to encourage our members to complete the census in a timely manner. The 2020 Census will be the first year you can fill out your census online.


The census website is safe, secure and confidential. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.


In addition to shaping legislative districts, the census dictates how key funds are distributed. The federal government distributes over $675 billion dollars to states based on the population for healthcare, food, education, and roads. Key programs using census data to drive funding include:

  • Federal Medical Assistance Programs (FMAP)
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Medicare Part B
  • Highway Planning and Construction
  • The Federal Pell Grant Program
  • Cooperative Extension Service


Georgia’s rural assistance programs received more than $1.4 billion annually in the federal FY 2016.


Census Dates to Remember:

  • March 2020: The Census Bureau will begin mailing invitations to participate in the 2020 Census to homes. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.
  • April 1, 2020: Census Day is observed nationwide. By this date, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020.
  • April 2020: Census takers begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people. Census takers also begin conducting quality check interviews to help ensure an accurate count.
  • May 2020: The Census Bureau begins visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to make sure everyone is counted.
  • August 2020: The online form of the Census will close.
  • December 2020: The Census Bureau delivers apportionment counts to the President and Congress as required by law.
  • March 31, 2021: By this date, the Census Bureau will send redistricting counts to states. This information is used to redraw legislative districts based on population changes.


  • March 24: Georgia's Presidential Primary
  • March 24: National Ag Day
  • April 2-4: Georgia Cattlemen's Convention, Perry



Public Policy Department Staff

Jeffrey Harvey, Director
Joe McManus, Assistant Director
Alex Bradford, State Affairs Coordinator
Raynor Churchwell, Agricultural Programs Specialist
Tripp Cofield, National Policy Counsel
Katie Duvall, Advocacy and Policy Development Coordinator
Renee Jones, Office Coordinator
Blake Raulerson, Governmental Affairs Specialist
Jeremy Taylor, Agricultural Programs Specialist



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