Now that Session is finally over, I know that all of my colleagues are looking forward to being home more and spending time with our families and friends. As we move forward through the year, I look forward to highlighting some of the essential legislation that we passed this year and sharing more details of the budget. This week,
I will highlight some of the work done by our Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee (chaired by Representative Robert Dickey from Musella) and our Appropriations Committee (chaired by Representative Terry England from Auburn) to support our state’s number one industry - Agriculture!
Senate Bill 247, carried in the House by Representative Steven Meeks from the city of Screven, allows our Agricultural Commodity Commissions to hold public hearings with public comments on marketing orders wholly or partially online. Notices related to marketing orders are required to be published on the Department of Agriculture’s website and in the Farmers Consumers Market Bulletin or other similar publications.
Our state has thirteen Agricultural Commodity Commissions which are farmer-funded and support research, education, and promotion of Georgia commodities. These Commissions do everything from providing marketing support for Georgia farmers who grow various products to publicizing recipes that utilize the products.
Allowing these Commissions to hold public hearings online will allow greater access to these meetings to Georgia farmers all across the state. This increased access also provides transparency for the general public, allowing them to follow along with the public hearings from the comfort of their own home.
In our budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (starting July 1, 2021), great emphasis was placed on Georgia farmers and our agriculture industry. The House and Senate allocated over $330,000 to establish the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin as the official regulatory and educational tool for the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) program, a program in which farmers and agriculture producers across our state participate.
The Georgia Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin has served Georgia’s agriculture community for over one hundred years, publishing classified advertisements for livestock, farm supplies and equipment, handcrafted and homegrown items; agriculture and consumer news; and even recipes using Georgia produce. With this new function being added to its mission, the Bulletin’s importance continues to increase.
Just over $300,000 was used to fund four positions and operating expenses for the Georgia Hemp Program, a fast-growing segment of our agriculture industry in Georgia. Also, just over $150,000 was restored to the budget for the Georgia Agricultural Exposition Authority.
This funding will allow the Authority to rehire necessary employees to prepare for events to return to Perry’s Georgia National Fairgrounds, especially the 2021 Georgia National Fair!
Although Session is over for the year, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail, or participate on Facebook to share your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.