Farm Bureau members traveled from across the state to Atlanta Feb. 11 for the 37th Annual Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol. The event gives GFB members a chance to talk to their legislators about issues impacting their farms.
“Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol is your chance to speak with your legislators to thank them for their support and to ask them to support our priority issues,” GFB President Gerald Long said.
Priority issues GFB is addressing during the 2020 session of the Georgia General Assembly include: the Right-to-Farm bill (HB 545) to protect farmers against frivolous nuisance lawsuits, protecting ag program funding in the state budget process, prohibiting cell-cultured protein and nonanimal food products from being called meat (SB 211) and securing farmers’ right to repair farm equipment with advanced electronic systems (HB 286).
“The budget has been the most hotly contested issue so far. It’s been the top priority on their minds as they are constitutionally required to balance it each session,” GFB State Affairs Coordinator Alex Bradford said.
With the Georgia Legislature in recess as lawmakers worked on the budget, GFB members met with their legislators in their offices instead of the capitol. GFB members reconvened at the Georgia Deport for lunch with their legislators and other state officials.
While speaking at lunch, Gov. Kemp pledged his support for House Bill 545.
“I believe we can find a balance that will protect the ag operations we have in this state and continue to make agriculture our number one industry,” Kemp said.
Kemp said he is optimistic about economic development for rural Georgia.
“We can make anything in this state and in any part of this state and we’re starting to see that,” Kemp said.
The governor cited the beef processing plant in Thomasville that Walmart opened in January, the chicken deboning facility Claxton Poultry opened in Sylvania last October and the expansion Tyson made to its Camilla poultry processing facility in September.
“All of these things are continuing to add up in our rural communities,” Kemp said.
Long thanked Georgia House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Rep. Tom McCall and Sen. John Wilkinson for their years of service to Georgia agriculture. McCall has led the House committee since 2005. Wilkinson has chaired the Senate committee since 2013. Neither plans to return to the Georgia Legislature next year.
“These men have dedicated their lives to agriculture, ag education and creating policy that has improved the lives of everyone in this room,” Long said. “Georgia agriculture will certainly miss their leadership.”