2023 Legislative Report Week 9
LEGISLATIVE REPORT WEEK 9
March 10, 2023
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Into the Short Rows
- Crossover Day
- Rural Caucus Luncheon
- Appropriations Update
- GFB Names Ben Parker as National Affairs Coordinator
- Right to Repair Update
- Bills That Crossed Over
- Bills That Did Not Crossover
- USDA Disaster Assistance
Photo Credits: House Media Services
Into the Short Rows
As we wrapped up this week on legislative day 31, we now begin to look ahead as Sine Die is quickly approaching. Monday was crossover day, marking the point in the legislative session in which every bill must pass from its chamber of origin to be considered by the other chamber for passage during the 2023 legislative session.
The legislature wasted no time getting back to work, even after a late night on Monday. On Tuesday the House and Senate reconvened and heard the first reading of many bills that crossed over into their chamber. Wednesday, Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) had the chance to co-sponsor the weekly Rural Caucus luncheon at the Department of Agriculture, and Thursday concluded with the passing of the FY24 budget from the House.
As we enter the final weeks of the session, GFB will continue to be present in the Capitol everyday representing our members and Georgia Agriculture. The legislature will reconvene Monday, March 13th, for days 32 through 35.
Photo Credits: House Media Services
Crossover day is a marathon style day in which the General Assembly gavels in early and works late into the evening as legislators seek to get their proposals passed and sent to the next chamber before time runs out. This year GFB, alongside many great allied ag organizations and partners, saw the advancement of several legislative initiatives. Those pieces of legislation now move to the next stage of the process where we will continue to work towards pushing them across the finish line.
HB 189, the truck weights bill, narrowly passed the House late Monday night with a vote of 93:Y to 81:N. GFB is appreciative of the great work that has been done by other members of the Georgia Economic Competitiveness Coalition advancing this legislation. This bill would give agriculture, forestry and several other industries who currently can haul product using a 5% weight variance, the ability to now haul at a 10% variance. This would be a 4,000lb increase for 5-axle trucks and allow for a total gross vehicle weight of 88,000lbs. The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Another piece of legislation that would be of great benefit to Georgia farmers and that crossed over on Monday, would establish the Georgia Farmland Conservation Fund. SB 220 would establish a fund that could receive state appropriations, private donations, and federal matching dollars for the acquisition of development rights on agricultural land in Georgia that is under threat of development. The House Ways and Means Ad Valorem Subcommittee had their first hearing on the bill Thursday morning.
One bill of interest that did not cross over on Monday was HB 452. This bill would prohibit foreign ownership of ag land by certain entities that are subject to governments deemed to be foreign adversaries by the US Secretary of Commerce. A similar bill that originated in the Senate, SB 132, crossed over prior to Monday and is now awaiting further action in the House Agriculture Committee.
GFB staff will continue to work with legislators and our allied partners under the gold dome as we near Sine Die to get these pieces of legislation passed and continue the work to advance our state's number one industry.
Rural Caucus Luncheon
On Wednesday, GFB co-sponsored the Rural Caucus Luncheon alongside the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD). The Rural Caucus is the General Assembly's largest caucus and consist of legislators who represent rural communities in our state. GFB and GACD had the opportunity to share some priorities with the members of the caucus and highlight the long-standing partnership our organizations have maintained. GFB advocated for several proposals that are moving through the legislative process this year including the increase of allowable gross vehicle weights for commercial trucks hauling agricultural goods with HB 189 and the overarching goal of preserving our agricultural lands through SB 220. To learn more about these legislative proposals, please see the "Crossover Day" section above.
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agricultural and Natural Resources met to discuss the FY24 Budget proposal as they seek to set funding levels for the upcoming fiscal year. The committee heard from various agency heads including the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper who discussed the needed funding for the new raw milk program and the longstanding soil amendments program. Funding needs include dollars for lab equipment and additional staff to implement these programs.
Outlined below are proposed House appropriations pertinent to Farm Bureau members. For a full FY 2024 Budget marked with all the changes made by the House, please Click here.
Amended FY23 Budget
Dept. of Agriculture
- $766,812 to implement the 'Georgia Raw Dairy Act'.
- $150,000 for physical improvements to the Department of Agriculture Tifton lab
- $249,800 for the purchase of equipment upgrades and new vehicles for the Poultry Veterinary Diagnostic Labs.
- $3,000,000 to replace cabins at Rock Eagle 4-H Center.
- $200,000 funds to the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources for ecological and economic impact study of land dedicated to forestry, row-crop farming, and solar energy production.
Ag Experiment Station
- $1,160,000 for the construction of integrated precision agriculture demonstration farm.
- $25,000 for a rural hospital study.
- $150,000 to mitigate the spread of invasive plant species in Southwest Georgia due to Hurricane Michael.
- $35,703,211 to establish the Rural Workforce Housing Fund.
FY24 Budget House Changes
Dept. of Agriculture
- $100,000 to provide funds for planning for a new veterinary lab in Athens.
- $150,000 to replace funds for two veterinary lab technicians at the Tifton veterinary diagnostic lab.
- $637,232 to implement the 'Georgia Raw Dairy Act'.
- $340,000 to provide funds for the State Agricultural Response Team (SART).
- $550,000 to provide funds for two compliance specialist positions, equipment, and vehicles to administer and enforce soil amendment rules.
- $553,556 to annualize funds for recruitment and retention.
- $171,000 to increase funds for 18 new extended day/year programs.
- $288,000 to provide funds for three young farmer positions in Barrow, Lowndes, and Hall counties.
Agricultural Experiment Station
- $350,000 to provide funds for personal services for five positions at the demonstration farm.
- $750,000 to provide funds for three faculty positions to serve the peach and citrus industries.
- $100,000 to provide funds for the vertical farming greenhouse planning study.
- $245,000 to provide funds for three research technician positions to support the Peanut Breeding and Extension Team.
- $603,750 to provide funds for seven county Extension agents.
- $3,096,471 to provide funds for recruitment and retention.
Public Service/Special Funding Initiatives
- $750,000 to provide funds to support operations and address a backlog of projects at the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation.
- $1,560,000 to increase funds for the rural physician loan repayment program to increase award amount and update program guidelines.
Photo Credits: House Media Services
GFB Names Ben Parker as National Affairs Coordinator
Ben Parker recently joined the Georgia Farm Bureau Public Policy Department as the National Affairs Coordinator. Parker developed a passion for agriculture while growing up in Perry, then pursued an applied biotechnology degree from the University of Georgia to understand the new era of modern agriculture.
Before coming to GFB, Parker spent two years researching soybean genomes to find cost-effective, insect-resistant genes under the tutelage of Dr. Wayne Parrott at UGA. He then started his policy career advocating for increased use of modern seed varieties before working on state level agriculture policies with the Georgia Agribusiness Council.
His time at UGA led him to engage in national agriculture policies through the Congressional Ag Fellows program in the office of Rep. Austin Scott.
Ben previously worked to establish an emerging bioplastic production company before returning to his true passion of keeping Georgia a national leader in the agricultural industry. He currently lives in Perry, where he found his love for crop and livestock production.
Right to Repair Update
On Thursday, March 9th, the American Farm Bureau Federation and CNH Industrial Brands signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that gives customers the right to repair their equipment purchased. CNH Industrial Brands owns Case IH and New Holland, and this MOU is similar to the MOU signed by AFBF and John Deere back in January at the AFBF Convention in Puerto Rico.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall responded to the second MOU saying," Farmers and ranchers are more dependent on technology than ever before, so it's critical they have access to the tools to keep things running on the farm so the food supply chain keeps running, too."
This MOU will benefit all farmers and ranchers in the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico access information, parts, and tools needed to maintain their equipment on the farm.
Bills That Crossed Over
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 & 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 on 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Finance on 3/7/2023
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.
Passed House 2/15/2023 & Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/16/2023
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 2/23/2023 and Assigned to Senate Finance Committee 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 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Transportation 3/7/2023
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. 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 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee 3/7/2023
Reps. Washburn, Bazemore, Reeves, Lim, Ridley, and others.
This bill is known as the "Housing Regulation Transparency Act." It seeks to limit the duration of time that a local government may enact a temporary housing moratorium on properties being developed for single-family residential purposes to 180 days. It also requires that a local government must wait another 180 days before enacting any new temporary housing moratorium once the initial 180-day moratorium is expired. The bill allows for exemptions under certain circumstances including a declared state of emergency, when safety is of concern, a court order, or while a studied is being conducted investigating future development.
Passed House on 3/6/2023 and Assigned to Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee on 3/7/2023
Reps. Cannon, Corbett, Dickey, Rhodes, Houston, and others
This bill would establish the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits.
Passed House 3/2/2023 & Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/6/2023
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 House 3/2/2023 & Assigned to Senate Finance Committee 3/6/2023
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 Senate 2/13/23 & Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 2/15/2023
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 & 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 3/2/2023 & Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs 3/6/2023
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 & Assigned to House Governmental Affairs Committee 3/1/2023
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 3/6/2023 & Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/7/2023
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 Senate 3/6/2023 & Assigned to House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee 3/7/2023
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 3/6/2023 & Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee 3/7/2023
Bills that Did Not Cross Over
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 House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/23/2023
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 interest.
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 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 House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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 House Education Committee 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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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.
Senate Tabled 3/6/2023
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. Anavitarte, Gooch, Kennedy, Dolezal, Robertson and others
This resolution would create the Senate Truck Driver Shortages Study Committee.
Assigned to Senate Rules Committee 2/16/2023
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
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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