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February 25, 2013

 

So God Made A Farmer

 

By Zippy Duvall

 

The new year is well underway, and Georgia Farm Bureau is working hard to represent Georgia’s farmers in both Atlanta during the General Session of the Georgia General Assembly and in Washington as the 113th Congress grapples with the federal budget crisis, immigration and the farm bill.

 

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your confidence in re-electing me as your president during our 2012 convention. I love working for you and representing the greatest industry in our state, and I pledge to work with everyone in our organization to ensure that Georgia Farm Bureau remains a strong advocate for Georgia agriculture and that our affiliated companies remain fiscally sound.

 

The people of Georgia who work in agriculture depend on Farm Bureau to represent them. We have an organization to be proud of, and we’re going to move forward to continue our work for Georgia’s farmers.

 

In January, your GFB Board of Directors approved priority issues for 2013 based on the policy that GFB voting delegates approved at our annual convention. Our priority issues are: water, taxes and budget, animal agriculture, national immigration reform, curbing thefts on farms and merging state and federal Commercial Driver’s License regulations for all crops. All of these have surfaced as having particular interest for our membership. The adoption of these priority issues does not limit GFB’s work on other issues. When other issues arise we will address them based on official GFB policy.

 

As the Georgia General Assembly kicks off the 2013 session, I’d like to congratulate Sen. John Wilkinson of Toccoa for being named chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee following the retirement of Sen. John Bulloch in December. We greatly appreciate the years of service Sen. Bulloch gave to Georgia agriculture and wish him the best in his retirement. Sen. Wilkinson has a strong understanding of Georgia agriculture gained during his years overseeing the state’s agricultural education programs, and we look forward to working with him. I am confident that John and Rep. Tom McCall of Elberton will make a great team as they chair the agriculture committees of their respective chambers.

 

Although our focus is on the current General Assembly, I would like to remind any Georgia farmers who have not applied for their Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) certificate that the signup for this card is ongoing. As of Jan. 1, farmers must have this card to receive sales tax exemptions on farm input costs.

 

GATE was authorized by legislation the Georgia General Assembly passed last year that Georgia Farm Bureau strongly endorsed because it allows a sales tax exemption on inputs used to produce a farm product. The new GATE certificate replaces the Agricultural Certificate of Exemption (form ST-A1) that producers previously used to receive sales tax exemptions.

 

As of Jan. 29, the Georgia Department of Agriculture reported that 22,000 farmers had applied for the card since signup began Nov. 15. If you haven’t already applied for your GATE card, you may do so online at www.agr.georgia.gov or by calling (855) FARM TAX, or (855) 327- 6829, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

Speaking of signing up for programs via the internet, as you talk to your friends and neighbors about Farm Bureau and the work we’re doing for Georgia agriculture, be sure to tell them that they can easily join Farm Bureau by visiting this page. It’s simple, easy and a great bargain at only $25 a year!

 

Every year we hear the talk about the Super Bowl commercials. Most of the time they make me and Bonnie laugh, but this year three of the commercials spotlighted the best things about rural America, filling our hearts with pride.

 

To tell you the truth, I missed the first half because I was at church, and during the second half the habits I developed as a dairyman took over and I fell asleep. I woke up to a news report of the top five commercials, and, to my surprise, three of them touched my heart. One was about service to our country and the bravery of our men and women in uniform. Then it was the Clydesdales and the tender loving care we farmers give our animals. The last and most impacting was Paul Harvey and his speech “So God Made a Farmer.” I was proud that in a time when the American public is so far removed from the farm, America’s farmers were honored with such a wonderful tribute.

 

In the midst of an event that celebrates consumerism, these commercials shared the message that our country is great because of the sacrifice, humbleness, and dedication of soldiers and farmers. These commercials proved the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.

 

 

(Zippy Duvall, a farmer from Greene County, is president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, the state's largest general farm organization.)

 

 

 

© 2013 Georgia Farm Bureau Federation

 

 

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