Laws give farm equipment right-of-way, make pecan state nut
Members of Georgia’s agriculture community gathered at Ellis Brothers Pecans in Dooly County April 9 to witness Gov. Brian Kemp sign two bills, pertaining to agriculture, into law. Gov. Kemp was joined by a group of about 100 consisting of state legislators who supported the bills, members of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Agribusiness Council and Georgia Department of Agriculture representatives for the celebration.
The Ellis Family has long marketed their farm store outside Vienna with the catchy slogan, “We’re Nuts,” making the site of the signing ceremony appropriate since one of the bills - Senate Bill (SB) 222 makes the pecan Georgia’s official state nut.
“Businesses like the Ellis brothers are the heart of what this legislation designating the pecan as Georgia’s official nut is about,” Gov. Kemp said. “Make no mistake, the backbone of Georgia’s economy is places just like this owned by hardworking Georgia families. I’m excited to be in South Georgia and talking about the No. 1 industry in the state.”
Georgia Sen. Carden Summers (Dist. 13) authored the bill and Sens. Larry Walker III (Dist. 20), Freddie Powell Sims (Dist. 12), Tyler Harper (Dist. 7) and Russ Goodman (Dist. 8) supported it. Rep. Noel Williams (Dist. 148) was credited with getting the bill passed in the Georgia House.
Kemp told media that designating pecans as Georgia’s state nut would provide the crop and its growers with new marketing opportunities.
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black assured signing ceremony attendees that Georgia’s peanut crop was not being slighted by establishing the pecan as the state nut since peanuts are a legume and have previously been designated Georgia’s official state crop.
House Bill (HB) 693 gives the right-of-way to farm equipment when drivers are following state rules for farm equipment on Georgia roads, specifically when bridges, guardrails or other physical impediments would not safely allow a tractor or other farm equipment to travel on the far right-hand side of the road.
HB 693 also prevents farm tractors from traveling on U.S. interstates unless the Department of Public Safety has permitted such travel in certain geographic areas of Georgia as deemed necessary.
“Georgia Farm Bureau thanks all of the Georgia legislators who introduced and signed these bills and got them passed through the Georgia Legislature this session,” Georgia Farm Bureau President Tom McCall said. “Farm Bureau also applauds Governor Kemp for supporting Georgia agriculture by signing them.”
If you'd like to celebrate the pecan becoming Georgia's official state nut, there are lots of pecan farms you can visit. Located about four miles off of I-75, the Ellis Brothers Pecan market is one of about 80 family farms and markets featured in Georgia Farm Bureau’s Farm Passport Program. Other Georgia pecan growers participating in the Farm Passport Program include: Berry Good Farms, Dickey Farms, Franklin Citrus Farm, Greenway Farms, Lane Southern Orchards, Little Duck Farms, Pearson Farm, Merritt Pecan Co. & General Store, and William L. Brown Farm Market. To learn more about the Farm Passport Program visit www.gfb.ag/farmpassport. The program offers consumers a chance to discover Georgia agriculture while traveling the state with friends or family. Passport holders can earn prizes based on the number of farms they visit.
Commissioner Black also acknowledged how nice it was for a large group of Georgia’s ag community to gather for the first time in a year and noted that he’d recently received his second COVID-19 vaccine.
“I got my second shot yesterday. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine, I hope you’ll do that soon,” Black said.