Weekly Newsletter for Georgia Agribusiness Council Members

Volume 33, No. 9 Published by the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. March 10, 2023

Week 9 of the Legislative Session brought us through "Crossover Day" with most of the agribusiness agenda still in play for the remainder of the session. Several bills of importance to the industry passed the halfway mark, including those supporting increased truck weights for ag and forestry, a farmland preservation program, a citrus commodity commission, timber harvest ad valorem tax reductions, hemp regulations, the L.E.A.F. Act, and a Senate version of a ban on foreign adversaries purchasing Georgia farmland.

Other bills that did not make it out of their Chambers will need to find creative ways to stay alive or face being stalled until next year's session convenes. We are now entering the crazy part of the session where bills are never truly dead until the final gavel drops on Sine Die.

Read below for more details of an action-packed week in Atlanta.

**Inside Agriculture is a newsletter and member benefit for GAC members that highlights the action Under the Gold Dome each week throughout the legislative session. The updates are meant to keep GAC members informed, connected, and engaged in the legislative process. Please share with other leaders within your business that may find these updates helpful.**



We are excited to extend our partnership with Southeast AgNet as they help spread the word on what is happening under the Gold Dome. This is a great tool to get a quick snapshot of the week's activities throughout the session. For a recap of the session, Click Here.


As the hour of convening for Legislative Day 28 arrived on Monday morning, it marked the beginning of the much-anticipated Crossover Day deadline of the 2023 session. This day is notorious for being one of the most action packed and pivotal moments that happen each year. Many bills ranging from simple housekeeping measures to hard hitting initiatives survived to continue the legislative process, while many others either failed to pass or simply did not get their number called for a vote. Both the House and Senate Chambers were debating legislation late into the night, barely avoiding the midnight hour.

The House of Representatives took a total of 60 votes on the floor throughout the day but left many on the table to sit idle. Among the GAC initiatives to pass was HB 189 by Rep. Meeks otherwise known as the “truck weights bill”. After a full day of working the ropes trying to lobby enough votes to keep the measure alive, the legislative body finally passed the bill just before 11:00pm with 93 yea votes and 81 nay votes. Although the passage of the bill is a critical win, the process is long from over as the legislation will now begin the process in the Senate. A number of other heavy hitting bills were considered that covered topics ranging from antisemitism, preventing local housing moratoriums, creating oversight panels for local prosecutors, and bills relating to electric vehicles. Perhaps one of the biggest shocks was caused by the House not taking a vote on legalizing sports betting. 

The Senate chamber was not much different in terms of productivity seeing that they took up a total of 64 votes on Monday. While there was no truck weight bill on the Senate floor, there were indeed a few priority measures that passed out of the chamber. Most notably was SB 220 by Senator Russ Goodman, the “Georgia Farmland Conservation Act,” made its way through the gauntlet by a vote 54 yeas and 2 nays. This legislation was also engrossed by the Senate, meaning that it cannot be amended. The Senate had its fair share of close votes and controversial topics whether it be SB 233 which would allow for private school vouchers or SB 140 which would ban gender altering surgeries and hormone replacement therapy for children under 18. Both of these advanced through the chamber and will be transferred to the house.

As we shift through the debris left behind by the storm known as Crossover Day, we will continue to keep fighting to the end for initiatives beneficial for our industry. 


The House Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee held hearings this Wednesday for several consumer affairs related bills. Senator John Albers was in attendance to speak to SB 149, a bill enacting the “Georgia Door-to-Door Sales Act.” This bill gives consumers a 30-day cooling off period on purchases that are over $10,000, being financed for 10 years/120 months, and is eligible for federal tax credits. This bill is geared towards protecting consumers from solar purchases, and that is why all three requirements must be met.

Two bills were discussed regarding access to healthy foods as Rep. Karen Bennett spoke on HR 184, a resolution creating the House study committee on Healthy Food Retail, and Representative Mike Cameron spoke on HB 570, a bill that builds the framework on how to better distribute more healthy food in areas considered food deserts within the state.

Next, Representative Joseph Gullett spoke on HB 573, a bill to prohibit the unlawful sale of any dog, cat, or pet rabbit on roadsides, at flea markets, and in parking lots. There are counties in the state that already have ordinances that already prohibit the unlawful transfer of these animals. Lastly, the committee heard from Becky Evans on HB 486, a bill to enact the Burial Purchaser Protection Act. 


Dozens of Georgia cattle producers were in attendance for the annual Steak Biscuit Day at the Georgia Capitol on Monday. The event is always one of the most popular meals Under the Gold Dome and coincided with Crossover Day again this year. This gave lawmakers and staff an opportunity to enjoy a high-powered protein breakfast with fresh Georgia milk to kick off the longest day of the session so far.

Pictured from L to R, GAC's Will Bentley, Commissioner Tyler Harper, House Ag Chairman Robert Dickey, GA Cattlemen's Board Member Danny Bentley.


The FY23 Budget was completed and agreed upon by a joint House and Senate conference committee Monday. Following the agreement, THIS BUDGET was sent to the Governor to fund the state for the remainder of the fiscal year.

At that point, appropriators turned their full attention to the FY24 budget that will consume much of their time for the remainder of the session. To see the tracking sheet that the House has now sent over to the Senate, CLICK HERE. We have provided a few budget highlights below for agriculture interests.

  • GDA money for Raw Milk Program and State Agricultural Response Team
  • Three young farmer positions in Bartow, Lowndes, and Hall Counties
  • Forestry Commission received funds for recruitment and retention of foresters and rangers
  • Five positions at the agriculture demonstration farm
  • Three positions for peach and citrus industry
  • Funds for the vertical farming greenhouse planning study
  • Funds for three research technician positions to support the Peanut Breeding and Extension Team
  • Funds for seven county extension agents


Senator Shawn Still’s SB 145 was heard this week in the House Governmental Affairs Committee. The Landscape Equipment and Agricultural Fairness (LEAF) Act prohibits counties and municipalities from creating local regulations that create differing standards for gasoline-powered leaf blowers and electric leaf blowers. Earlier in the week a sub-committee heard from a variety of opinions on this bill, but it ultimately passed through and on to the full Governmental Affairs Committee before being passed again and will now go on to Rules.


Both subcommittees of the House Natural Resources and Environment met on Thursday to hold hearings on bills. The Environmental Quality Subcommittee heard from Rep. Tyler Paul Smith on HR 211, a bill creating a House Study Committee on Landfills, and Sen. Randy Robertson on SB 95, a bill establishing the solid waste trust fund. The Resource Management Subcommittee heard from Rep. Karla Drenner on HR 169, a resolution creating a House Study Committee on water customer rights, and Sen. Lee Anderson on SB 121. This bill would prohibit local governments from banning residents of Georgia who own an acre or more of land from drilling a well on their property. Landowners within city limits are often denied the ability to drill wells on their property due to being on the city water system. Several members of the subcommittee voiced concerns about how allowing landowners to have wells on their property would affect Georgia’s stance in the Tri-State Water Wars and urged Senator Anderson to speak with council who has knowledge on the Tri-State Water Wars and would like testimonies from them at the next meeting. 

Team Spots are Almost Full!!

Join us for our First Annual Agribusiness Clay Shoot on Friday, April 28th at the Meadows Clay Sports in Forysth, GA. We are looking forward to a great day outdoors! To be a Team Sponsor or a Station Sponsor please click on the link below. THANK YOU to the below Sponsors for the continued support to GAC!




SB 2 - Sen. Greg Dolezal

A bill to extend the COVID-19 liability protections for businesses permanently. These protections were first put in place during the COVID pandemic to release businesses from claims that their customers contracted COVID-19 at their place of business.

Status - Did not pass.

SB. 3 - Sen. John Albers

A bill that requires state departments, agencies, boards, bureaus, offices, commissions, public corporations, and authorities to assess education, experience, and training requirements for positions of employment. Specifically, to reduce the number of positions for which a four-year college degree is required.

Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on Feb. 9. Referred to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.

SB. 22 - Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick

A bill that prohibits the purchase of, sale of, or offering samples of hemp products to anyone under the age of 18. The bill will provide rules and regulations for these offenses and any other related matters.

Status - Did not pass.

SB. 34 - Sen. Elena Parent

A bill to prohibit third-party food delivery services from committing unfair, unsafe, and unhealthy practices in the state.

Status - Did not pass.

SB. 39 - Sen. Kim Jackson

A bill to allow persons convicted of a misdemeanor, or certain felonies, to grow industrial hemp.

Status - Did not pass.

SB 60 - Sen. Bo Hatchett legislation to address concerns raised by secondary metal recyclers whose business practices are restricted in their methods of payment for deposits. Under current law, recyclers may only pay using a check, electronic funds transfer, or a voucher. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on Feb. 13. Referred to House Judiciary Non-Civil.

SB. 126 - Sen. Billy Hickman

to provide for a limitation on interchange fees charged by payment card networks for credit or debit card transactions at retailers. This legislation will have a second hearing in the Senate Banking committee. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 132 - Sen. Brandon Beach

A bill relating to agriculture prohibits the acquisition of a possessory interest in certain land by certain nonresident aliens. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 2. Referred to the House Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee.

SB. 145 - Sen. Shawn Still

A bill to prohibit the local regulations that create differing standards for or distinguish gasoline-powered leaf blowers from similar equipment in applicable counties and municipal corporations Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on Feb. 27. Referred to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.

SB. 158 - Sen. Randy Robertson

A bill to provide an insurance premium discount or rate reduction for property owners who build a new residential or commercial property located in Georgia that better resists catastrophic windstorm events. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 6. Referred to the House Insurance Committee.

SB. 165 - Sen. Russ Goodman

A bill to provide for an allowable variance for weights and limitations upon a vehicle or load and to repeal certain exceptions which allow for excess weight limitations upon a vehicle or load. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 177 - Sen. Harold Jones

A bill to enact the "Food Insecurity Eradication Act", and to create the Georgia Food Security Advisory Council. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 6. Referred to the House Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee.

SB. 186 - Sen. Greg Dolezal

relating to liability of owners and occupiers of land generally, to limit landowner liability regarding invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 191 - Sen. Shawn Still

A bill relating to motor vehicles and traffic, to repeal provisions authorizing joinder of motor carriers and their insurance carriers in tort and contract causes of action. Status - Did not pass.

SB. 196 - Sen. Ben Watson

A bill to provide for the failure to wear a safety belt or safety restraints for children as admissible evidence in civil actions. Also, to prohibit the failure to wear a safety belt or safety restraints for children as a basis for cancellation of insurance coverage. This measure failed to pass through the committee. Status - Senate Lost.

SB. 220 - Sen. Russ Goodman

A bill to establish the Georgia Farmland Conservation Program, Georgia Farmland Conservation Fund program, and the Georgia Farmland Advisory Council. Status - Passed by Senate Chamber on March 6. Referred to House Ways & Means Committee.

SB. 228 - Sen. Sheikh Rahman

A bill that creates the Director of Outdoor Recreation position in the Department of Natural Resources. Status - Did not pass.


HB. 14 - Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick

A bill that provides a tax credit to employers who hire workforce-ready graduates, and the Department of Labor will establish the criteria.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 16 - Rep. Mandisha Thomas

A bill to extend the sunset provision relating to the use of sick leave to take care of immediate family members.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 26 - Rep. Mandisha Thomas

A bill to require the Department of Community Affairs to include certain indoor air quality provisions in applicable state minimum standard codes.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 31 - Rep. Debbie Buckner

A bill to dedicate the proceeds of certain hazardous waste fees to the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund.

Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 2. Referred to Senate Finance Committee.

HB. 33 - Rep. Beth Camp - A bill to provide for the State Board of Veterinary Medicine to be an independent state agency attached to the Department of Agriculture for administrative purposes only and to provide for contracting with the Department of Agriculture for licensing and other services.

Status: Did not pass.

HB. 34 - Rep. Bruce Williamson

A bill that will expand credits allowable for purchases and acquisitions of qualified investment property for manufacturing and telecommunications facilities to include mining facilities.

Status - Did not pass.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Bagwell Insurance Group, Inc.

Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation

Georgia Electric Membership Corporation

Georgia Power Co.

Osage Farms Inc.

Premium Peanut

Southwest Georgia Farm Credit

Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission

Brooksco Dairy LLC

Carroll EMC

Color Burst

DeWitt Produce Co. Inc.

Fort Valley State University

Georgia Cotton Commission

Georgia Crop Production Alliance

GA Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association

Georgia Green Industry Association

Georgia Peanut Commission

Georgia Young Farmers Association

Green Fern Enterprises, LLC

Greg Sikes Farm, LLC

Growers Gin & Warehouse, Inc.

Growers Supply Inc.

Hattaway Farms Partnership

Hillside Orchard Farms, Inc.

J & B Irrigation Inc.

Kelley Manufacturing Co.

Leatherbrook Holsteins LLC

Mixon Seed Services Inc.

Mobley Greenhouse, Inc.

SafEnvirons, Inc.

Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition

The Turfgrass Group, Inc.

U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

USA Poultry & Egg Export Council

WDairy LLC

Woodruff & Howe Environmental Engineering, Inc.

Agri-Business Technologies, Inc.

American Peanut Shellers Association

American Peanut Trailers, LLC

Barrington Dairy, LLC

Boston Gin Co.

Broken Antler Farms

C.M. Tanner Grocery Co. Inc.

Calhoun Stockyard Hwy. 53 Inc.

Centurion Poultry Inc.

Circle C Farms Inc.

Coley Gin & Fertilizer

Cotton Partners LLC

Curry Farm Supply Inc.

Easterlin Pecan Company

EGA, Inc.

Emanuel Peanut & Grain LLC

Embry Farm Service

Feeding Georgia

Food Safety Net Services

Funston Gin Co. Inc.

Georgia 4-H Foundation

GA Assoc. of Conservation Districts

GA Assoc. of County Agricultural Agents

GA Assoc. of Professional Ag Consultants

Georgia Cattlemen's Association

Georgia Christmas Tree Association

Georgia Crop Improvement Assoc.

Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service, Inc.

Georgia FFA Association

Georgia Foundation for Agriculture

Georgia Milk Producers Inc.

Georgia Peach Council

Georgia Pecan Growers Association, Inc.

Georgia Pork Producers Association

Georgia Poultry Federation

Georgia Seed Association Inc.

Georgia Vocational Ag Teacher Association

Georgia Watermelon Association

Georgia Women in Agriculture Association Inc.

International Forest Company

Israel Farm Supply, Inc.

L. R. Land & Cattle Company, Inc.

Lenox Peanut Company

Longleaf Land LLC

Majors Electric & Mechanical Company, Inc.

Moultrie Colquitt County Development Authority

National Peanut Buying Points Assn.

Northeast Georgia Livestock

Oglethorpe Power Corporation

P.G.C. Farms

Pike Creek Turf, Inc.

Quality Gin, Inc.

Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc

Samara Plantation, LLC

Shealy Farms, Inc.

South GA Ag & Fertilizer

Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association

Southern Crop Production Association

Southern Livestock

Southern Seed Company, Inc.

Southern Specialty Equipment

Sweet Corn Co-Op

The Satsuma Company, LLC

Three Brothers Trucking, LLC

Vidalia Onion Business Council

Special thanks to all of our Star Sponsors. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 for details. Thank you!

HB. 53 - Rep. John Corbett

A bill to provide that the State Board of Registration for Foresters is an independent state agency attached to the State Forestry Commission for administrative purposes only. This will require a confirmation from the Senate for State Board members appointed by the Governor. This bill also gives the State Board of Registration for Foresters the ability to issue cease and desist orders and issue additional penalties for violations, and other related matters that may arise.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 71 - Rep. Darlene Taylor

A bill to prohibit the director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Natural Resources Department from issuing, modifying, or renewing any permit or accepting any bond to conduct surface mining operations on Trail Ridge for future permit applications and amendments.

Status - Did not pass.

HB. 73 - Rep. Joseph Gullett

A bill to require that sellers of electrical services provide a written disclosure statement with any agreement for the sale of distributed energy generation systems or for the financing of such systems through leases or solar energy procurement agreements.

Status - Passed by House Chamber on Feb. 28. Referred to Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

HB 78 - Rep. Kimberly Alexander

A bill to require all employers to implement paid sick leave for employees and to specify purposes for which paid sick leave may be taken and the rate at which paid sick leave accrues and to prohibit discrimination against an employee for inquiring about or using paid sick leave. 

Status - Did not pass. This bill is not expected to receive action but GAC will track as it would be of impact to our membership.

HR 96 - Rep. Noel Williams

A resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution so as to provide for a reduction in the rate of the ad valorem tax assessment of timber at sale or harvest; to require state appropriations to each county, municipality, or school district affected by the such reduced rate of taxation; to provide for related matters; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 189 - Rep. Steven Meeks

A bill to provide for an allowable variance for weight limitations upon a vehicle or load, and to repeal conflicting laws. Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 6. Referred to Senate Transportation Committee.

HB. 246 - Rep. Martin Momtahan - A bill to prohibit China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, their citizens, and companies owned and operated by them to acquire title to the property in this state. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 260 - Rep. Kim Schofield - A bill to require all state entities to consider and report on environmental justice concerns prior to taking certain state actions and to create the Environmental Justice Commission. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 262 - Rep. Regina Lewis-Ward - A bill to establish the Office of Equity in Agriculture, and to establish and provide requirements for the Georgia Farmers Council. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 305 - Rep. Robert Dickey - A bill that creates the Georgia Farmers Market Authority, and repeals existing provisions relating to farmer's markets. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 413 - Noel Williams

A bill to provide for a second round of funding and period applications to the "Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act" Status - Did not pass.

HB. 439 - Penny Houston

A bill that establishes the Farmers' Markets Trust Fund within the state treasury. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 452 - Clay Pirkle

A bill, related to agriculture, that prohibits the acquisition of a possessory interest in certain land by certain nonresident aliens. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 458 - Clay Pirkle

A bill that prohibits the purchase, sale, or offering of samples of hemp products to any person under the age of 21. Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 6. Referred to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities.

HB. 533 - Carl Gilliard

A bill to provide for a tax credit for the cost of doing business with Georgia Grown hemp owners and suppliers. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 545 - Chas Cannon

A bill to create an Agricultural Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits. Status - Passed by House Chamber on March 2. Referred to Senate Agricultural and Consumer Affairs Committee.

HB. 566 - Rep. Regina Lewis Ward

A bill to require the Commissioner of Agriculture to spend no less than five percent of the marketing and promotion budget for agricultural producers on minority or women-owned agricultural enterprises and to protect against discrimination against these groups. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 570 - Rep. Mike Cameron

A bill to establish the Healthy Food Development Program. Status - Did not pass.

HB. 583 - Leesa Hagan

A bill to authorize the production and sale of homemade food items with certain exemptions, requirements, and disclosures. Status - Did not pass.


The 2023 GAC Star Sponsor program registration is now underway and it's not too late to be apart of it. This program helps with events during the legislative session along with building support for a variety of projects and initiatives that cannot take place without the added participation. Star Sponsors are reflected in each of our newsletters, as posted on this page, along with the weekly legislative reports throughout each session of the Georgia General Assembly, monthly newsletters, and more. Click here for 2023 Star Sponsor registration form or information and email Jill Hansard or call the GAC office at 706-336-6830 or Click Here for Online registration. Thank you!


In a policy environment that is rapidly changing, supporting state political leaders that understand and support agribusiness has never been more important than it is today.

The Georgia Agribusiness Council was created for the purpose of advocating for agricultural interests in the legislative and regulatory arenas. This lofty initiative continues to get harder and harder each election cycle. In our efforts to advance these activities, the Council formed the Georgia AgPAC several years ago that utilizes member's donations to:

* Financially support the campaigns of political candidates who are supportive of agriculture;

* Educating elected officials and key decision makers on issues important to agribusiness;

* Advocacy of issues that advance our industry and rural communities

We ask for your financial support so that we can continue to fight on behalf of Georgia agribusiness interests. Campaign contributions from Georgia AgPAC is restricted to non-federal candidates in races for legislative and statewide offices. Georgia AgPAC needs your contribution to advance this initiative. 

Your corporate or personal commitment will help us prepare today. All donations are welcome. Please call our office at 706-336-6830 or click here to download the donation form to be a partner in this effort. 



March 29: Georgia Department of Ag Clean Up Day Event. From 8:00am - 3:00pm The Georgia Dept. of Agriculture is hosting a Pesticide Clean Day Event. This program gives everyone an opportunity to discard old, unusable, or cancelled pesticides to a hazardous waste contractor for disposal. Click Here for more Information


April 28th: First Annual Agribusiness Classic Clay Shoot - located at Meadows Clay Sports in Forsyth, GA - Registration begins at 8:30am - Limited Space - register today! Email Rebekah McDowell for more information.

This information is intended for members of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc. No part of this document shall be copied, edited, or redistributed in any form without express written consent from the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Inc.

Georgia Agribusiness Council | 706-336-6830 | WWW.GA-AGRIBUSINESS.ORG


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