Effingham County Farm Bureau members traveled to Atlanta recently to participate in Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol.
While at the state Capitol, members of the Effingham County Farm Bureau delegation visited with Rep. Jon Burns, Rep. Bill Hitchens and Sen. Jack Hill. GFB members who attended included Effingham County Farm Bureau President Stuart Exley and office manager Becky Fields.
The Effingham County delegation was among more than 300 Farm Bureau members from across the state to participate in the event. Participants were encouraged to raise legislators’ awareness of GFB’s 2015 priority issues — water, animal agriculture, protecting the Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption and the Conservation Use Value Assessment, and securing funding for agricultural programs in the state budget.
“The real importance of the day is that we can bring together this many people in one day,” said GFB President Zippy Duvall. “It shows Georgia Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization, and it puts the faces of our members we’ve been telling the legislators we represent in front of them.”
Gov. Nathan Deal spoke at the luncheon GFB held at the Georgia Freight Depot attended by more than 500 GFB members and state officials. Speaking of the pending lawsuit that Florida has filed against Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court over water, Gov. Deal thanked Georgia farmers for their willingness to install meters on their irrigation systems that measure the amount of water the farmers use.
“Florida’s main complaint is that Georgia uses too much of the water that flows through our state into their state. They don’t care whether the utilization is due to more homes in metro Atlanta or for irrigation in South Georgia. They just say Georgia is using too much water,” Deal said. “I have to compliment agriculture in regards to (irrigation) metering. It has allowed us to dispute exaggerated claims of irrigation use. It has allowed us to document your water usage and it’s not just somebody guessing.”
Gov. Deal also addressed the ongoing budget discussions regarding the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission and shared his plan for how the agency will maintain its core functions. Gov. Deal is proposing that the GSWCC be administratively attached to the Georgia Department of Agriculture while the purpose and structure of GSWCC will continue to operate as always.
Changes addressing the GSWCC state board structure and the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Manual are also expected.