2023 Legislative Report Week 8
LEGISLATIVE REPORT WEEK 8
March 3, 2023
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Final Days Before Crossover
- Truck Weights Update
- Foreign Ownership of Ag Land
- Farmland Preservation
- GFB Presidents Trip to DC
- Clean Day Event
- Action This Week
- Bills of Interest
- USDA Disaster Assistance
Final Days Before Crossover
The General Assembly met for 4 legislative days this week, including days 24 through 27, and adjourned on Thursday after the Senate worked late into the evening. A great deal of work was done this week as each chamber seeks to get their legislative priorities passed through the chamber where they originated before crossover day. When legislators return on Monday, the clock will be ticking, and the debate will likely run to another late hour.
On Wednesday the Georgia Peanut Commission hosted the always popular PB&J Day at the Capitol. Georgia produces more than half of the peanuts in the United States, and they are essential to the success of the state's economy. It was encouraging to have farmers, processors, and supporters of the industry in the capitol promoting agriculture and ensuring legislators know the impact peanuts have on our state.
Georgia Farm Bureau will continue to be present in the capitol every day of the legislative session advocating for our members and representing agriculture. Next week the General Assembly will convene for 4 days, leaving us at day 31 of 40.
Truck Weights Update
As the legislative session continues to progress, so has the debate regarding increasing allowable gross vehicle weights (GVW) for commercial trucks in Georgia. As a member of the Georgia Economic Competitiveness Coalition, GFB would like to see Georgia be put on an even playing field with our neighboring states when it comes to the allowable gross vehicle weight at which we can load and haul the various commodities grown in Georgia. In the House, HB 189 was recommitted to the Transportation Committee again this week for the third time, as interested parties and members of the General Assembly seek to find a balanced approach to the issue. The committee passed out a version of the bill that would provide for a 4,000lbs. increase to allowable GVW. This would be accomplished by increasing the current variance in law from 5% to 10%, allowing a 5-axle commercial truck to haul up to 88,000lbs. We expect to see a vote on this bill by the full House on Monday. For the bill to have a chance at passing this year, it must be passed by the House no later than Monday, which marks crossover day for this year's session.
This week the Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), took up SB 165. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell), would increase the variance allowed on haul weights for certain commercial trucks to 12.5% and allow for them to carry up to 90,000lbs. The bill includes several additional goods that could be hauled at the higher weights in addition to what is covered under the current variance in state law. During committee, both the supporting and opposing sides debated multiple points of contention including federal law, bridges, pavement degradation, safety, and economic competitiveness. No action was taken, and we are quickly approaching crossover day, meaning that it is likely that efforts and focus will shift to the House version of the proposal (HB 189).
Foreign Ownership of Ag Land
All across the country, state legislatures have seen the introduction of legislative proposals to limit the foreign ownership of agricultural land in their individual states. Currently, 14 states in the US limit the foreign ownership of their agricultural land in some way. This session, there have been several bills introduced in the General Assembly that take a stab at doing just that here in Georgia.
HB 452, carried by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn), would limit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by those considered to be foreign adversaries of the Unites States. The legislation has received positive feedback thus far particularly when it comes to the overarching idea of protecting food safety and security. The bill was favorably reported out of committee on Monday and was presented to the Rules Committee on Wednesday. We will continue to track this legislation ahead of crossover day on Monday.
On Thursday, SB 132 passed the full Senate by a vote of 35:Y-20:N. Sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), this bill is now very similar to HB 452 after an amendment was offered on the Senate floor which made a change to the countries that would be prohibited from purchasing agricultural land. The bill now heads to the House where it will be assigned to a committee for further consideration. Both proposals noted here also include provisions that would restrict the purchase of land that is within 25 miles of a military installation.
GFB staff will continue working with bill sponsors on these proposals for the best possible solution to this issue, which has gained a great deal of attention and interest in recent years.
SB 220, titled the Georgia Farmland Conservation Act, was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, February 28th, and passed the committee favorably. This proposal would create a state led conservation easement program tailored to production agricultural land. During the hearing the sponsor of the bill, Chairman Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell), discussed the continual decrease in production agricultural land we have seen in the United States in recent years. This bill is modeled after current legislation in other states and is a completely voluntary program. It allows for significant federal dollar matching opportunities and would be established with the goal of protecting agricultural land from future development.
On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee passed HB 449 dealing with certain provisions related to solar panel fields that are within the Conservation Use Value Assessment Program (CUVA). This bill, sponsored by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), would eliminate the provisions in current law that allow for solar panels to be installed on land enrolled in CUVA, without breaching the covenant. According to current law, the land being used for solar must be removed from the CUVA covenant and a penalty that is less than the normal breach penalty must be paid. That penalty is equal to the amount by which the current use assessment has reduced taxes for the year in which the parcel was removed from the covenant. GFB generally supports the ability of our members to utilize solar for diversification of their operations, but opposes solar power generation sites receiving the same exemptions as agricultural land.
GFB Presidents' Trip to DC
This week, numerous county presidents and the GFB State Board Legislative Committee traveled to Washington, D.C. to engage with our delegation advocating for agriculture. The trip began with a meeting hosted by American Farm Bureau, where attendees heard updates from staff on issues and current legislation dealing with labor, environmental regulations, the Farm Bill, and livestock and poultry regulations. The next day, members attended meetings with members of Georgia's House of Representatives and Senate to highlight our priorities as the 118th Congress gets underway.
Advocacy efforts like this, and the engagement of our members, are paramount to Farm Bureau's success. We appreciate the time attendees took away from their farms during this busy season to demonstrate our organization's strength and provide valuable, first-hand insight to those wielding the pen that affects Georgia farmers.
Pesticide Clean Day Event
Date & Time: March 29, 2023 from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Location: Tri County Gin (Coffee County) 561 Sinkhole Road Douglas, GA 31535
The Georgia Department of Agriculture has scheduled a 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 canceled pesticides to a hazardous waste contractor for disposal. Participation in the Clean Day Program remains free of charge to all private and commercial applicators with the understanding that the event is designed and intended for farmers, lawn care, golf courses, and pest control companies.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture will be requiring pre-registration for the events. For more information about the event please contact your local extension agent or click the button below.
Action This Week
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 and 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 Ways and Means Committee on 3/2/2023
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.
Passed House on 2/23/2023 and Assigned to Senate Finance Committee on 2/27/2023
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 Transportation Committee 3/2/2023
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. 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%.
Passed House 3/1/2023 and Assigned to Senate Finance Committee 3/2/2023
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 on 3/2/2023
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 Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/1/2023
Reps. Cannon, Corbett, Dickey, Rhodes, Houston, and others
This bill would establish the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits.
Passed House on 3/2/2023
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. 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 by House 3/2/2023
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. 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 and farm properties.
Passed Senate 2/23/2023 and Assigned to House Natural Resource and Environment 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 on 3/2/2023
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 and Assigned to House Governmental Affairs Committee 3/1/2023
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. 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.
Passed Senate Insurance & Labor Committee 2/28/2023
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 Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee 3/1/2023
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 Finance Committee 2/28/2023
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 III, Goodman, Anderson, Watson, Echols, and others
This resolution recognizes Gary W. Black for his outstanding public service as Commissioner of Agriculture.
Senate Read and Adopted 2/27/2023
Sens. Goodman, Walker III, Sims, Watson, Burns, and others
This resolution commends the Georgia peanut industry and recognizes March 2023 as Georgia Peanut Month at the state capitol.
Senate Read and Adopted 2/28/2023
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 by House Natural Resources and Environment Committee on 2/23/2023
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.
Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/16/2023
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 on 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 by House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 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. 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. 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. 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 overburden 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 Education 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 the full Senate on 2/13/23. Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 2/14/2023
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. 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 Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/22/2023
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.
Senate Hopper 2/15/2023
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!
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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