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Agriculture a winner in budget
Hill Jack
State Sen. Jack Hill

Georgia agriculture continues to be a critical part of the state’s economy. The Legislature provided a number of funding additions to benefit agriculture and forestry in the fiscal year 2016 Budget.  In addition, a number of bills were passed which affect agriculture positively. 

Georgia’s future is bright considering the permanent water shortage in California and other states and the ups and downs of farming in the Midwest. Somebody who should know, (Dean Angle of the University of Georgia), says Georgia could become the major food and fiber provider of the country in the near future.
FY16 funding additions affecting agriculture

• $360,000 for six new Cooperative Extension agents

• Department of Agriculture — $211,000 for two manufactured food inspectors and one seed scientist

• $300,000 for three new positions in UGA Forestry Extension

• UGA Ag Experiment Station — $300,000 for three positions, agronomist, ornamental horticulturalist and cotton physiologist

• $300,000 for four new Young Farmer positions for high schools in Turner, Union, Johnson and Burke counties

• Additional funding for extended day pay for high school agriculture teachers

• $100,000 in continued funding for non-commodity commission Georgia agricultural products

• $396,000 for parity pay increases for forestry management personnel, and $1.4 million for pay increases for rangers and chief rangers in forest protection

Bonded ag-related projects

• UGA Tifton campus — $5 million for animal and dairy science building

• $1.5 million for replacement of equipment for Georgia veterinary diagnostic labs

• Department of Agriculture — $500,000 for vehicles and two mobile test labs

• Department of Agriculture State Farmers’ Market — $9 million for new wholesale cooler warehouse

• Forestry Commission — $4 million for replacement of firefighting equipment

Legislation affecting agriculture

HB 123 - Adds registered, tagged trailers to the list of haulers requiring adequate tie-downs as in chains on trailers for security of load.

HB 199 - Creates uniform statewide notifications by loggers to local governments as to entrance and exit dates for harvesting operations

HB 255 - Requires the state to consider green building certifications that include the use of Georgia forest products in state construction

HB 292 - Links state tax law back up with federal law (federal tax section 179) and raises deduction from $250,000 to $500,000.

HB 461 - Continues to tighten the metal recycling laws to prevent theft.  Adds vehicle batteries to list of protected metals after a rash of school bus battery thefts and limits the sale of metal from gravesites and cemeteries to funeral home operators or cemetery owners  

HB 475 - Loosens hunting restrictions on feral hogs allowing night and vehicle hunting. Limits transportation of live hogs to permitted hauling to market

HR 744 - Creates study committee to look at the application of drones for agriculture and make recommendations.
Georgia’s Legislature and agriculture continue to make a great partnership and with education, research and assistance, Georgia agriculture can continue to increase markets in the state, in the U.S. and worldwide.  

Legislation and final action may be accessed online at and the state budget can be accessed online at the Senate Budget and Evaluation web site:

I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7092 (fax)
E-mail at
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811