Legislative Session Report Week 3



January 28, 2022



  • A Busy Week Ahead
  • Metal Theft: The Cost of Business vs. The Cost of Crime 
  • GFB’s Jon Huffmaster Retires After Distinguished 40-Year Career
  • Georgia Farm Bureau Establishes Impact Fund
  • GFB Day at the Capitol: February 8th
  • Action This Week
  • Bills of Interest
  • Adverse Effect Wage Rate Comments Due Monday
  • Upcoming USDA Program Deadlines
  • USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Signups for 2022
  • Not a Member of Georgia Farm Bureau? Join Today!
  • Dates to Remember



The General Assembly convened for legislative day 5 on Monday and met through Thursday, leaving us on day 8 of the legislative session. Much of the work done this week was behind the scenes as we prepare for the pace to pick up next week and legislators begin to take up an increased number of bills. Appropriations hearings also resumed this week as lawmakers seek to amend the AFY22 budget and set the FY23 budget. While many committees have already begun to meet, the House and Senate Agriculture committees are set to hold their first meetings of the year next week. 

Legislators will return to the Gold Dome on Tuesday, February 1st for day 9 and are scheduled to work through Thursday, February 3rd. On Wednesday, February 2nd, Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) will host the Rural Caucus luncheon where rural senators and representatives come together to discuss legislation important to their communities and our state’s agricultural industry. GFB staff will continue monitor the issues important to our members and advocate for our priorities. To read which bills have been proposed affecting agriculture and rural Georgia, please see the Action This Week and Bills of Interest sections below.

In a somewhat rare action, the General Assembly has set the legislative calendar for the duration of the session, which is slated to adjourn sine die on Monday, April 4. To see the entire calendar, click here.

The Georgia General Assembly convened for three legislative days this week. (Photo Credit: Georgia House Photo)



Recently there has been interest expressed by the metal recycling industry to pursue a change to Georgia law that deals with cash payments for certain metal materials. This issue goes back to legislation passed in 2012 which made it illegal to provide immediate cash payment for the metal that was brought to a recycler and also required thorough documentation of their customers. The intent of the original change was to curb the widespread metal theft that was taking place in Georgia. The issue was particularly acute in rural areas and on farms as there is a large amount of metal material ranging from tractor implements to tools, spread over a large geographical area, and left unattended at times. This solution which banned immediate cash payments was one of the best examples of a legislative fix that brought immediate relief to a rampant issue. The proposed change comes out of frustration from recyclers due to the administrative cost required to write checks for all transactions. Georgia Farm Bureau does not support changes to this effective program that will entice bad actors with convenient payment for theft, and we will continue to monitor the issue to ensure that it is not compromised.


Jon Huffmaster


Corporate Secretary and Chief Administrative Officer Jon Huffmaster, a long time staple of Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB), has hung up his hat after a 40-year career serving Georgia's farmers. Huffmaster held many roles during his time at Georgia Farm Bureau, but his leadership in the former Legislative Department, known today as the Public Policy Department, laid the foundation for our successful advocacy efforts in the legislative arena.

“Jon not only has years of outstanding service to the Georgia Farm Bureau community but has provided strategic leadership through the important role of building relationships in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and has continued to provide valuable counsel to the GFB Board and staff through complex times,” said GFB President Tom McCall.

During Huffmaster's time as legislative director, GFB led the charge to defend farmers’ sales tax exemptions on farm inputs. In 2012 the state legislature maintained those exemptions and expanded them under the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) program, leading to enormous savings for the state’s farmers. His work under the Gold Dome and throughout the state was instrumental in paving the way for the state's number one industry, agriculture, and emulated the core foundation of Georgia Farm Bureau: to be a voice for Georgia's farmers in the legislative arenas of Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Jon and Beverly, his wife of 39 years, live in Taylor County close to their children: Jon Davis, his wife, Kayla, and their three children; and daughter Rebekah Huffmaster Gay, her husband, Kevin, and their son. Huffmaster said in retirement he plans to remain in Taylor County, help on the farm and spend time with his grandchildren.

We will miss you, Jon, and wish you the best of luck in this new stage of life!



ImPACt Fund Logo


On December 7, 2021, after nearly two years of diligent evaluation and consideration, voting delegates at the 2021 Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) Annual Meeting unanimously endorsed the creation of the GFB Impact Fund, a political action committee (PAC), to advocate on behalf of agriculture, farmers, and our rural communities. The following week, the GFB Board of Directors unanimously voted to put it into action and simultaneously authorized the GFB Mutual Insurance Company to match every dollar contributed to the GFB State Impact Fund by February 28, 2022 - up to $500,000!

With election season on the horizon, it is vital that we work to get our PAC up and running as quickly as possible. Support for the GFB State Impact Fund can come from county Farm Bureaus, GFB members, local farm businesses, and others who share our mission. This additional tool 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.

To contribute to the GFB State Impact Fund, please return your check and this form to:

GFB State 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.



Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol is scheduled for Tuesday, February 8, 2022. Orientation begins at 9:30 am in the Blue Room at the Georgia Freight Depot. The Depot is located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, one block northwest of the Capitol, at Underground Atlanta. 

After orientation, we encourage you to visit with your legislators at the Capitol and return with them to the complimentary luncheon at the Depot beginning at noon. Luncheon invitations will be sent to all legislators, but a personal invitation from you would be especially helpful and effective. Additionally, GFB’s Georgia Ag Experience mobile classroom will be parked outside the Capitol available for attendees and legislators to visit.

Complimentary security parking is located at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel parking deck, located at 165 Courtland Street NE, and the shuttle bus service will run from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta on February 8th!



To find more on a specific bill, visit the Georgia General Assembly website and use the "Search Legislation" tool at the top right.


HB 976:
Reps. Schofield, Jackson, Scott, Buckner, Bentley, and others
This bill seeks to establish a “Black Farmer Restoration Office” to support current Black farmers and to encourage the growth of Black farmers into the field of agriculture. It also would establish a “Farm Conservation Corps” to provide on-farm apprenticeships to those between the ages of 18 and 29 from socially disadvantaged groups. According to the proposal, farms offering the apprenticeship must have a gross annual income of less than $250,000 and be owned by a social disadvantaged farmer, a beginning farmer, or a certified organic farmer.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 1/25/2022.


HB 978:
Reps. Smith, Stephens, England, Greene, and Dempsey 
This bill would require the board of tax assessors for a county that is declared a disaster area to conduct a full appraisal of all the properties located within the disaster area to determine if the current appraised value still reflects the value of the properties following the declared disaster. If it does not, the tax assessor must adjust the appraised value and notify the property owner.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 1/25/2022.


HB 997:
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.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 1/26/2022.


HB 1002:
Reps. Smith, Gambill, Williams, Scoggins, McDonald, and others
This bill would designate the opossum as the official state marsupial.
Assigned to House State Planning and Community Affairs Committee on 1/26/2022.


HB 1038:
Reps. Cooper, Jasperse, Corbett, Watson, and England
In recent years, the General Assembly has focused on bolstering availability of rural healthcare. This bill would expand the eligibility of an existing state income tax credit currently limited to physicians practicing in rural areas (<50,000) to also include dentists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 1/27/2022.


HB 1041:
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.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 1/27/2022.


HB 1055:
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.
Assigned to House Motor Vehicles Committee on 1/27/2022.


SB 396:
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.
Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 1/27/2022.



To find more on a specific bill, visit the Georgia General Assembly website and use the "Search Legislation" tool at the top right.


HB 44:
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.


HB 139:
Reps. Mainor, Dukes, McClain, Mallow, and Thomas
This bill would prohibit trains from blocking any traffic crossing for longer than 15 minutes (with exceptions for safety reasons), and also require signage at crossings providing a telephone number to report such instances.
Assigned to House Transportation Committee on 1/28/2021.


HB 482:
Reps. Lim and Holcomb
This bill would provide a preferential tax rate program that seeks to promote urban agriculture as well as provide for urban agricultural incentive zones that would be located in areas with a 15% or greater poverty rate. The program includes restrictions for properties that enter a contract such as being at least .10 acres but not more than 5 acres and for an initial term of at least 5 years. This bill is the enabling legislation for HR 164 that would put this change on the ballot in 2022 as a constitutional amendment.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/17/2021.


HB 496:
Reps. Burchett, Burns, Rhodes, Ridley, and Williams
This bill seeks to create a $1,000 Annual Forest Product Permit, issuable by the Department of Transportation, allowing vehicles hauling timber up to a gross weight of 95,000, up to 10 feet wide, and no more than 100 feet long.
Assigned to House Transportation Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 500:
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.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 504:
Reps. Williamson, Reeves, Burns, Knight, Blackmon, and Lott
Similar to HB 500, this legislation provides a second round of funding for the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act in the amount of $100 million. However, the bill goes on to create a new NAICS code and tax program for medical equipment and supplies manufacturers. Additionally, this bill goes on to address other tax credit programs dealing with high-impact aerospace defense projects, Georgia ports, and railroads.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 608:
Reps. Wiedower, Burns, Smyre, Parsons, and Kelley
In an effort to enhance the expansion of broadband to unserved areas, this legislation authorizes the use of OneGeorgia funds to award contracts to qualified providers under the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative.
Assigned to House Governmental Affairs Committee on 2/24/2021.


HR 164:
Reps. Lim and Holcomb
HR 164 would allow for a constitutional amendment to be on the ballot in 2022 should HB 482 pass. See above for additional information on HB 482.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/17/2021.


SB 30:
Sens. Beach and Harbison
Senate Bill 30 would provide for pari-mutuel horse racing in the state at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers, create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission, and provide for the comprehensive regulation of pari-mutuel horse racing and related activities.
Referred to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on 1/28/2021.


SB 65:
Sens. Gooch, Miller, Cowsert, Tillery, Harper, and Hatchett
In a continued effort to expand broadband access to rural and un-served communities, this legislation allows the Public Service Commission and Department of Community Affairs to utilize a portion of the Universal Access Fund for such services.
Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 118:
Sens. Harper, Burke, Tillery, Goodman, Anderson, and Kennedy
SB 118 would increase truck weights for 6-axle timber haulers up to 100,000 lbs.
Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee on 2/10/2021.


Federal Updates


Georgia Farm Bureau has drafted comments in response to the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rule regarding the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) Methodology for the Temporary Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants. 

The proposed rule seeks to change the methodology used to calculate the AEWR. Rather than using a single AEWR for all H-2A occupations within a region, DOL has proposed determining the appropriate AEWR based on occupation. The proposed rule would keep the single AEWR for the majority of field and livestock workers represented by six Standard Occupational Classification codes (Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery and Greenhouse Workers; Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals; Agricultural Equipment Operators; Packers and Packagers, Hand; Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products; and All Other Agricultural Workers), while shifting AEWR determinations to the Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey (formerly the Occupational Employment Statistics survey) for all other occupations for which the Farm Labor Reports does not adequately collect or consistently report wage data at a state or regional level.

The proposed rule is very concerning as it is not representative of regional differences and artificially inflates the wage rate. Farmers who participate in the H-2A program already face high costs associated with the program including application fees, transportation, lodging, and meals, and the proposed increase only adds to the already burdensome and complicated program. With rising farm input costs and other challenges associated with farming in today's environment, the proposed rule would not only stress Georgia farmers, but could ultimately contribute to putting them out of business entirely. 

Both Georgia Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation will be submitting comments asking the DOL to revisit the proposed methodology to more accurately reflect regional differences and comparative market values. We encourage any farmer that is affected by the Adverse Effect Wage Rate to submit their own personal comments as well. You may click here to view the proposed rule and submit formal comments to the Federal Register. Comments are due by midnight this coming Monday, January 31.



Several U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) national program deadlines are approaching. Note that this list does not include every deadline, and only includes federal deadlines. Check with the local USDA Service Center to learn about all available programs, and programs that have local or state level deadlines.

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) for 2021 Losses
Jan 31, 2022

ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers for livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish losses due to disease and certain adverse weather events or loss conditions The ELAP policy was updated to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing and also lowered the drought intensity threshold to trigger assistance for water hauling expenses. Additionally, in 2021 USDA updated ELAP policy to make food fish and other aquatic species eligible for ELAP assistance from now on.
Learn more about ELAP for 2021 Losses


Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for 2021 Losses
Jan 31, 2022

LFP provides payments to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition or fire on federally managed land during the normal grazing period for a county.
Learn more about LFP for 2021 Losses


Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP)
Feb 4, 2022

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 from November 8, 2021, through February 4, 2022. FSA extended the original signup deadline, which was January 7, 2022. OTECP provides assistance for certified organic operations and transitional operations that incurred eligible expenses in fiscal years 2020, 2021, and/or 2022. This program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.
Learn more about OTECP


Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage (SDMC)
Feb 18, 2022

Enrollment is open from December 13, 2021 through February 18th, 2022 for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program and the new Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage (SDMC) program. SDMC enrollment must occur before 2022 DMC enrollment. DMC continues to offer protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. SDMC expanded the program to allow dairy producers to better protect their operations by enrolling supplemental production.
Learn More About DMC and SDMC


Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP)
Feb 25, 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


Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for 2021 Losses
Mar 1, 2022

LIP provides benefits to livestock owners and contract growers who experience livestock deaths exceeding the normal mortality, due to specific adverse weather, disease, or animal attacks.
Learn more about LIP for 2021 Losses


Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs
Mar 15, 2022

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages producers to contact their local USDA Service Centers to make or change elections and to enroll for 2022 Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, providing future protections against market fluctuations. The election and enrollment period opened on Oct. 18, 2021 and runs through March 15, 2022.
Learn more about ARC and PLC 



WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2022 – Agricultural producers and landowners can sign up soon for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a cornerstone conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a key tool in the Biden-Harris Administration effort to address climate change and achieve other natural resource benefits. The General CRP signup will run from Jan. 31 to March 11, and the Grassland CRP signup will run from April 4 to May 13.

“We highly encourage farmers, ranchers and private landowners to consider the enrollment options available through CRP,” said Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Last year, we rolled out a better, bolder program, and we highly encourage you to consider its higher payment rates and other incentives. CRP is another way that we’re putting producers and landowners at the center of climate-smart solutions that generate revenue and benefit our planet.”

Producers and landowners enrolled 4.6 million acres into CRP signups in 2021, including 2.5 million acres in the largest Grassland CRP signup in history. There are currently 22.1 million acres enrolled, and FSA is aiming to reach the 25.5-million-acre cap statutorily set for fiscal year 2022.


CRP Signups
General CRP helps producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. 

Meanwhile, Grassland CRP is a working lands program, helping landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland and pastureland and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas as working grazing lands. Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations and provides important carbon sequestration benefits to deliver lasting climate outcomes. 

Alongside these programs, producers and landowners can enroll acres in Continuous CRP under the ongoing sign up, which includes projects available through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE). 


Climate Benefits
Last year, FSA enacted a Climate-Smart Practice Incentive for CRP General and Continuous signups, to better target CRP on addressing climate change. This incentive aims to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CRP’s climate-smart practices include establishment of trees and permanent grasses, development of wildlife habitat and wetland restoration. The Climate-Smart Practice Incentive is annual, and the amount is based on the benefits of each practice type.

Additionally, in order to better target the program toward climate outcomes, USDA invested $10 million last year in the CRP Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation (MAE) program to measure and monitor the soil carbon and climate resilience impacts of conservation practices over the life of new CRP contracts. This will enable the agency to further refine the program and practices to provide producers tools for increased climate resilience. 


More Information on CRP
Landowners and producers interested in CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program -- for General CRP before the March 11 deadline, and for Grassland CRP before the May 13 deadline. Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. Due to the pandemic, some USDA Service Centers are open to limited visitors. Additionally, fact sheets and other resources are available at 

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest voluntary private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. 

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit



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.




  • February 7: Georgia Forestry Day at the Capitol
  • February 8: Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol
  • February 9: Georgia Young Farmers Association Day at the Capitol
  • February 16-18: 60th Annual Georgia Cattlemen's Association Convention, Savannah
  • February 22: Georgia FFA Day at the Capitol

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