Legislative Session Report Week 12
LEGISLATIVE REPORT WEEK 12
April 1, 2022
IN THIS ISSUE:
- One Day Left
- Spotlight Issue Passes the Senate
- Raw Milk Passes the Senate
- Ag Committees Hold Final Meetings
- Thank You For Your Service
- GFB Impact Fund
- Action This Week
- Bills of Interest
- Upcoming USDA Program Deadlines
- Not a Member of Georgia Farm Bureau? Join Today!
- Dates to Remember
ONE DAY LEFT
Over the span of fourteen minutes, Georgia Farm Bureau's (GFB) two remaining priority issues passed the Senate on Friday afternoon, Legislative Day 39 of the 40-day session. The Senate broke for a brief lunch recess before returning to immediately take up both House Bill 1150, the Freedom to Farm Act, and House Bill 1175, the Georgia Raw Dairy Act, in succession. Both bills have been amended and will have to return to the House for an agreement vote prior to the conclusion of the 2022 Legislative Session at midnight on Monday, April 1.
We are appreciative of the efforts of our members and friends of Farm Bureau who have played an instrumental role in getting these bills passed. While we have crossed another important hurdle, we are not across the finish line yet. Please encourage your State Representative to agree to both bills when they return to the House Chamber on Monday.
With two committee workdays scheduled over the weekend and Legislative Day 40 slated for Monday, GFB’s Public Policy team will continue to monitor the remaining hours of policymaking before the Georgia General Assembly adjourns Sine Die until next January.
Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), Senate Rules Committee Chairman, is retiring at the end of the session. Sen. Mullis carried House Bill 1175, the Georgia Raw Dairy Act, to passage in the Senate on Friday afternoon. (Photo Credit: Georgia State Senate)
SPOTLIGHT ISSUE PASSES THE SENATE
On Friday, Georgia Farm Bureau’s spotlight issue and number one legislative priority, The Freedom to Farm Act, passed the full Senate by a vote of Y:31 to N:23. Senate Ag Chairman Larry Walker presented the bill, with Senators Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla), Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell), and Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) taking the well to deliver impassioned speeches in support. With the passage of HB 1150 in the Senate, it will now go back to the House for an agree vote. Although major hurdles have been cleared, this legislation is not to the finish line yet. We need you to reach out to your State Representative and urge them to agree to the Senate passed version of HB 1150. This bill will bring clarity to our state’s right to farm law and ensure farmers are protected from nuisance lawsuits. It strikes a balance with the property rights of neighbors and only protects a farm that follows all laws, rules, and regulations and is not acting negligently or improperly. This is the most important issue currently facing Georgia farmers and we appreciate all the legislators who have supported this legislation so far.
RAW MILK PASSES THE SENATE
In addition to GFB’s spotlight issue, another priority issue, The Georgia Raw Dairy Act, passed the Senate on Friday by a vote of Y:42 to N:10. This bill would legalize the sale of raw milk for human consumption and provide our state’s dairy producers with new market opportunities. HB 1175 would ensure that the raw milk being sold and consumed is as safe as it can be and that consumers have a legal option to purchase raw milk directly from the producer. With the known fact that raw milk is being sold for human consumption under a pet milk label, it is important that we make this change to ensure consumers have access to raw milk that has been tested and produced under a set of safety standards. We would like to thank Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) for authoring the bill and for the extensive work he put into perfecting the bill. We would also like to thank outgoing Rules Chairman, Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), for carrying the bill in the Senate. This bill is also not across the finish line yet as it must return to the House for an agree vote. Contact your State Representative today and let them know that we need HB 1175 to ensure the raw milk being sold is safe and that Georgia’s dairy producers can take advantage of this market opportunity.
AG COMMITTEES HOLD FINAL MEETINGS
This week, both the House and Senate Ag Committees held their final meetings of the 2022 Legislative Session. On Monday, the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee took up HB 1150 and HB 1175, two GFB priority issues, passing them both and sending them to the Senate Rules Committee. Both bills passed the Senate on Friday. Members of GFB’s State Board of Directors also traveled to the capitol to advocate for HB 1150 and attend the committee.
On Wednesday, the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee held their last meeting, taking up HR 943 and SB 537. The committee also took up the business of appointing a member to the Georgia Seed Development Commission, voting to reappoint GFB member Casey Cox to the Commission where she will continue to serve for another term.
We greatly appreciate the work of both committees this session and for their dedication to Georgia agriculture. We look forward to working alongside members of both committees as we close out the final days of the legislative session.
House Bill 1150, the Freedom to Farm Act, passed out of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on a partyline vote on Monday. Friday afternoon, the bill passed out of the full Senate.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
Georgia Farm Bureau would like to thank the members of both the House and Senate Ag Committees not seeking reelection for their work and dedication to advance Georgia agriculture throughout their tenure. These individuals have dedicated much of their time in the legislature to taking up the issues that are important for farmers across our state and working to perfect legislation that continues to build on the success of Georgia’s number one industry. We will greatly miss them on the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committees and in the legislature, but we look forward to the potential opportunity to work with them in the future. Please see below for a list of all who is retiring from their current positions and to see who is pursuing higher office:
- Rep. Terry England
- Rep. Susan Holmes
- Sen. Tyler Harper (Candidate for Agriculture Commissioner)
- Rep. Tom Kirby
- Rep. Jan Tankersley
- Rep. Dominic LaRiccia
- Rep. Don Hogan
- Rep. Winfred Dukes (Candidate for Agriculture Commissioner)
- Rep. Matthew Wilson (Candidate for Insurance Commissioner)
CONTRIBUTE TO THE GFB STATE IMPACT FUND
We are greatly appreciative of the support we have received for the GFB State Impact Fund since its inception in December, particularly from the counties and individuals that rallied to have their contributions matched in our kickoff challenge. The challenge, which wrapped on March 15, was a smashing success and has put our PAC on the track to make a huge impact this election season.
Even though the challenge is complete, we are still accepting contributions to both the State Impact Fund and the Federal Impact Fund. Support for the State Impact Fund can come from county Farm Bureaus, GFB members, local farm businesses, and others who share our mission. Support for the Federal Impact Fund can only come from members and employees of Georgia Farm Bureau.
These additional tools will allow us to support the candidacies and elections of qualified individuals to public office who have demonstrated a commitment to furthering and strengthening the agricultural industry, regardless of political affiliation. With your support, we can ensure your voice has a seat at the table to protect agriculture for the next generation.
Each contribution to the GFB State Impact Fund is voluntary and will support candidates who support agriculture and Georgia Farm Bureau values. To learn more about the GFB Impact Fund, please contact Katie Duvall.
GFB State Impact Fund
Attn: Katie Duvall
1620 Bass Road
Macon, GA 31210
If you are a member or employee of Georgia Farm Bureau, you may contribute to the GFB Federal Impact Fund by check. Please return your check and this form to:
GFB Federal Impact Fund
Attn: Katie Duvall
1620 Bass Road
Macon, GA 31210
*All contributions are solely voluntary and not tax deductible. Each contribution must be accompanied by the contribution form to be accepted.
ACTION THIS WEEK
To find more on a specific bill, visit the Georgia General Assembly website and use the "Search Legislation" tool at the top right.
Reps. Watson, England, Burns, Buckner, Hatchett, and others
This proposal would provide for a statewide constitutional referendum and question on the 2022 ballot to allow for an ad-valorem tax exemption on timber equipment and products. Equipment that would be exempt under this bill includes logging equipment such as wood cutters, loaders, bulldozers, skid steers, etc. Also included in the exemption would be timber products such as trees and other wood fiber products.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/30/2022.
Reps. Pirkle, Jasperse, Watson, England, Corbett, and others
This legislation increases the available tax credits for contributions to rural hospitals from $65 to $75 million per year.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/11/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/30/2022.
Reps. Ridley, Corbett, Barton, and Anderson
This bill would amend the definition of “all-terrain vehicle” by increasing the maximum weight to from 2500 lbs to 3500 lbs.
House Passed/Adopted on 2/07/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted on 4/1/2022.
Reps. Rhodes, Corbett, LaHood, Ridley, and Smith
This bill would authorize the hunting and trapping of raccoons and opossum year round.
House Passed/Adopted on 2/15/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/17/2022. House Agreed to Senate Substitute on 3/30/2022.
Reps. Dickey, Watson, England, Jasperse, and Pirkle
Also known as the Freedom to Farm Act, HB 1150, addresses ambiguity in Georgia’s current Right to Farm statute and seeks to protect farmers from frivolous nuisance claims brought by those who do not like the inherent aspects of agriculture. With Georgia’s number one economic driver being agriculture, there is a vested interest in protecting the families and businesses that provide all of our food and fiber. There has been an increase in the number of nuisance claims brought against Georgia farms due to recent federal court precedent that turns current Right to Farm law on its head. This bill would allow for a farm to have certainty after a period of time, as long as they are operating within the law and according to all rules and regulations, that they will be protected from unnecessary nuisance lawsuits.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/3/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 4/1/2022.
Reps. Pirkle, Camp, Campbell, and Jenkins
This proposal comes out of a summer study committee consisting of members from the House Agriculture Committee. Chaired by Rep. Clay Pirkle, the committee looked into the issue of legalizing the sale of raw milk for human consumption. With the technological advancements in the dairy industry that provide for a very consistently safe product, many believed there was a way to produce raw (unpasteurized) milk that would be safe for human consumption. Many in the dairy industry, especially smaller producers, have been seeking a way to increase their already slim margins with a product like raw milk that brings a premium price due and has an increasing consumer demand. This bill would allow for the legal sale of raw milk for human consumption under a set of specific rules and regulations that seek to ensure a safe product.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/3/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 4/1/2022.
Reps. Jasperse, Mathis, Erwin, England, and Pirkle
This bill would prohibit any student who is participating in a 4-H sponsored activity or program from being counted as absent at school.
House Passed/Adopted on 3/1/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/28/2022.
Reps. Dickey, England, Pirkle, Erwin, Bentley and others
This bill would transition a pilot program that has been in place for elementary agricultural education to an ongoing and permanent program. It would also require schools to hire an elementary agricultural education teacher to administer the program.
House Passed/Adopted on 3/1/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/22/2022.
Reps. Jenkins, Camp, Greene, Jasperse, and Knight
This proposal would allow for the use of ungraded lumber in the construction or repair of any uninhabited structure on property zoned for residential or agricultural use.
House Passed/Adopted on 3/11/2022. Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/25/2022.
Reps. Gaines, Wiedower, Gambill, Hagan, Cameron, and others
This bill would require that a mobile food service establishment permit be recognized in all counties while still being subject to local ordinances and the county’s board of health.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/30/2022.
Reps. Gullett, Rich, Anderson, Dickey, Gaines, and others
This bill would provide that a local sheriff’s department could donate a single livestock animal that has been impounded to an animal rescue organization after due notice has been given. This bill comes in response to an issue with pot belly pigs getting lose and there being no market for the impounded animals to be sold at, leaving only the option of euthanization. The committee substitute fixed some potential unintended consequences of trying to solve a pot belly pig problem with legislation that would be widely applied to all livestock animals.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/29/2022.
Reps. Momtahan, Barton, Corbett, Pirkle, Cheokas, and others
This bill would prohibit anyone other than a licensed secondary metal recycler from purchasing or soliciting for purchase a used or detached catalytic converter. It would also prohibit anyone from possessing, transporting, or selling a detached catalytic converter unless they have the proper licenses and documentation required. Any detached catalytic converter found in possession of someone without the proper documentation will be considered contraband and be subject to forfeiture.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Senate Judiciary Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/29/2022.
Reps. Bennett, Beverly, Wilkerson, Schofield, Hawkins, and others
This resolution would create the House Healthy Food Retail Study Committee to investigate the availability of and access to fresh, healthy food in certain rural and urban areas in Georgia.
House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee Favorably Reported on 3/30/2022.
Reps. Leverett, Ralston, Dickey, LaRiccia, and Jasperse
This resolution would recognize former Representative Thomas (Tom) Allen McCall, current Georgia Farm Bureau President, and dedicate a road in his honor.
Assigned to House Transportation Committee on 3/28/2022.
Sens. Harper, Walker III, Anderson, Sims, Goodman
Last year GFB worked with Sen. Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) to pass SB 247, which modernized the procedures for Commodity Commissions to serve notices, hold public hearings, and vote to better utilize commission funds and more effectively reach producers. This bill would provide for the same modernization and updates to the propane commodity commission.
Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/4/2022. House Passed/Adopted on 3/29/2022.
Sens. Hatchett and Ginn
This proposal would amend current metal theft law to generally allow for cash payments (up to $100) at secondary metal recyclers for deposits excluding utility wire, communications copper, copper wire, batteries, or catalytic converters. Under current law, recyclers may only pay using a check, electronic funds transfer, or a voucher as a proven method of curbing metal theft in our state. We greatly appreciate the bill sponsor, Sen. Bo Hatchett, for working to find a balance between deterrence of widespread metal theft while still allowing for a business-friendly environment. Hatchett incorporated numerous aspects in the bill to avoid a resurgence of metal theft including: maintaining extensive deposit records and documentation of personal identification of customers; a two-year repeal of this bill, unless extended by the legislature because no increased instances of theft are seen; and enhanced penalties by making it a felony if metal theft results in property damage above $1,500.
Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. House Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/30/2022.
BILLS OF INTEREST
Reps. Cantrell, Greene, Barr, Werkheiser, Gambill, and Williams
This bill would require Georgia to observe Daylight Savings Time year-round. This will only become effective if Congress authorizes states to observe daylight savings time year-round.
House Passed/Adopted on 3/5/2021. Assigned to Senate Rules Committee on 1/10/2022.
Reps. Burchett, Blackmon, Dickey, Rhodes, and Watson
The Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act, established in 2017, provides a system of non-traditional loans for rural businesses to encourage economic growth and jobs. This legislation would provide the second round of funding, in the amount of $100 million, to replenish the program.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/22/2022. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee on 2/24/2022.
Reps. Jasperse, Watson, Corbett, England, and Campbell
This bill would establish the Rural Health Advancement Commission to address healthcare workforce shortages in rural areas of Georgia. The commission would be made up of 13 members from all across the medical field that will explore the issue and deliver an annual report.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/9/2022. Assigned to Senate Government Oversight Committee on 3/11/2022.
Reps. Corbett, Watson, Houston, Burns, and Dickey
This bill would make the State Board of Registration for Foresters an independent state agency and attach it to the State Forestry Commission for administrative purposes. The members of the board would be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Assigned to Senate Government Oversight Committee on 3/16/2022.
Reps. Watson, Burns, Buckner, Corbett, and Hatchett
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.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee on 3/16/2022.
Reps. Schofield, Smith, Thomas, Kirby, and Scott
This resolution encourages support of urban farming by local governments.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/3/2022.
Reps. Dukes, Williams, Thomas, Wilkerson, Jackson, and others
This resolution would establish the Joint Study Committee for the Expansion and National Competitiveness of Georgia Agriculture made up of members from the Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives. The study committee would look at ways to become a national leader and increase Georgia’s market share in a variety of agricultural crops and sectors.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/8/2022.
Reps. Smith, England, Rich, Pirkle, and Greene
This resolution recognizes and commemorates the outstanding advancements in water conservation that have been made by the Atlanta metro region and all Georgians and urges continued initiatives for water conservation.
House Natural Resources & Environment Committee Favorably Reported on 3/25/2022.
Sens. Goodman, Jones II, Walker III, Harper, Sims and others
This bill seeks to create the Georgia Farm to Foodbank (F2FB) Program by changing the Georgia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This initiative is a Governor’s priority and included in his budget proposal is $800,000 to fund the program. The funds will be used for grants to provide Georgia Grown products straight from producers to regional foodbanks that will be able to use that food to feed those who need food assistance. The program will be administered by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and they will submit an annual report that contains information on where the food came from and where it went.
Senate Passed/Adopted on 2/11/2022. House Passed/Adopted on 3/23/2022.
Sens. Summers, Walker III, Harper, Goodman, Anderson
This legislation seeks to amend the state constitution and allow for an ad-valorem tax exemption on aircraft used for the aerial application of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, seeds, or any other agricultural product that would normally be used in an agricultural operation and can be applied by aerial application.
Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee on 3/16/2022.
Sens. Jones II, Goodman, Jackson, Sims, Rhett and others
This bipartisan bill would establish the “Georgia Food Security Advisory Council” made up of 23 members ranging from the Commissioner of Agriculture to representatives from the public health community. One member would be a Georgia farmer appointed by the Majority Leader of the senate in consultation with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. This council would make recommendations that seek to end food insecurity in Georgia.
Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/15/2022. Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/16/2022.
Sens. Summers, Tillery, Kennedy, Mullis, Sims and others
This resolution is to recognize and commend Representative Terry England on his outstanding public service. Earlier this year, longtime Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and strong advocate of Georgia agriculture announced his plans to retire after this term.
Senate Read and Adopted on 3/16/2022.
UPCOMING USDA PROGRAM DEADLINES
Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP)
April 15, 2022
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP) from December 15, 2021, through February 25, 2022. SMHPP provides pandemic assistance to hog producers who sold hogs through a negotiated sale from April 16, 2020 through September 1, 2020, the period in which these producers faced the greatest reduction in market prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.
Learn more about SMHPP
NOT A MEMBER OF 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.
DATES TO REMEMBER
- April 4: Legislative Day 40 - Sine Die
Public Policy Department Staff
Alex Bradford, Director
Raynor Churchwell, Agricultural Programs Manager
Katie Duvall, Advocacy and Policy Development Coordinator
Renee Jones, Operations Coordinator
Jake Matthews, Governmental Affairs Specialist
Jeremy Taylor, Agricultural Programs Specialist