In FY08, the Georgia Department of Agriculture received an appropriation totaling $54,926,632. Of these funds, $46,192,622 were state general funds, $6,849,321 were federal funds, and $1,884,669 were agency funds.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture has requested several enhancements in its FY09 budget request to the governor. These enhancements focus primarily on operational improvements by way of adding equipment and staff.
The department’s FY09 requests includes $637,487 to purchase equipment in the department’s fuel laboratory, $1.26 million to acquire vehicles, $326,200 to automate inspection processes, $175,000 for an international trade office in Asia, and $518,408 to fill a variety of vacant positions.
Upgrading fuel lab equipment
Part of the governor’s energy plan is to promote the use of alternative fuels such as bio-diesel and Ethanol (E85). To ensure the quality of these new fuels being offered to Georgia citizens, the Department is requesting $637,487, which will be used to upgrade the equipment in its fuel laboratory. The department plans to add equipment capable of testing bio-diesel characteristics as well as to update its viscosity instruments and gas chromatograph.
The Department of Agriculture has requested both additions to its vehicle fleet as well as the replacement of some existing vehicles. The department currently has 249 vehicles. In FY09 the department is requesting $345,000 to purchase new vehicles. In addition to the new vehicles, the department is requesting $915,000 to replace aging vehicles that have over 175,000 miles.
Automating the inspection processes
In FY09, the Department is seeking $326,200 to automate and digitize inspections forms. In FY06, a pilot program was funded to give food safety inspectors tablet personal computers that enabled them to enter data into an electronic form as they inspected a business.
Because the information was captured electronically, the department claims inspections forms will then be easily shared and distributed as needed. In FY09, the Department of Agriculture is seeking these funds to expand the automated inspection process to other inspection programs that do not currently have them.
International Trade Office in Asia
The Department of Agriculture seeks to capitalize on the growth of economies in Asia by opening an International Agriculture Office overseas. The Department is requesting $175,000 to open and operate this office in FY09. The Department intends to help Georgia farmers identify opportunities in Asian markets and to better market their products to Asian consumers, as well as to identify trade shows and other key opportunities for Georgia farmers.
The Department of Agriculture’s international expansion is not a new development. In FY08, the Department of Economic Development was allocated $4.1 million to increase funds for international marketing efforts to expand global commerce initiatives for Asia and Canada.
These proposals will be reviewed by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. The governor will present his proposed budget to the Legislature in January.
Useful Web sites
Ga. Dept. of Agriculture — www.agr.georgia.gov
Visit the Legislature’s Home Page at www.legis.state.ga.us
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