Ag Issues Heat Up Under the Gold Dome

Atlanta, GA |

In Atlanta, legislators are hard at work under the Gold Dome, as they’ve officially passed the halfway mark, chugging along towards Sine Die. This year, just like any year, ag is a big topic of discussion, as there are a number of issues being debated. One issue is regarding wildlife nuisance; an issue that’s been causing farmers and producers all over the state a lot of grief the last few years, such as feral hogs, vultures, and in more recent years, white tail deer.

“Wildlife nuisance is definitely been something that our farmers have experienced for a long time across all commodities. It kind of depends what commodity you’re talking about, which wildlife continues to be the nuisance, right? Feral hogs or wild pigs tend to be the first thing that comes to people’s mind, when they think of a wildlife nuisance, but also black vultures and cattle; whatever it might be, there tends to be some kind of wildlife that affects daily farming operation,” says Adam Belflower, Governmental Affairs Specialist for Georgia Farm Bureau. “However, the issue arises when like the feral hog situation, the damage that the farmer is occurring due to wildlife nuisance is just unsustainable. Kind of the new wildlife nuisance we’ve seen in this front is white tail deer. So, deer have been impacting our row crop farmers, specifically cotton farmers, very, very substantially the past few years.”

According to Belflower, the damage being caused by deer keeps getting worse, as a survey conducted last Fall showed that a large percentage of those surveyed continue to see increased damage to their crops from deer every year.

“We surveyed roughly 350 farmers across the state to kind of get their input on deer nuisance. One of the big findings we had of that survey was ninety percent of the people surveyed said, year after year, over the past five years, deer nuisance has gotten worse. Out of those, ten percent who did not say it has gotten worse said it stayed the same. So, over the past five years, no farmer had experienced a decrease in wildlife nuisance from deer, which is pretty substantial and very eye opening to the issues,” says Bellflower.

Another issue this legislative session is regarding the foreign ownership of land; an issue Belflower says is a matter of food security, as it will keep countries that are designated as foreign adversaries from owning land used for production agriculture.

“Basically what this bill does is it seeks to ensure that our farmland that we use, our productive farmland to produce the food, the fiber, the shelter that Georgians and Americans rely on is protected from those who are adversarial to our country, who maybe don’t have the same beliefs as us, maybe don’t have the same desires for us. They maybe don’t want to see our country flourish the same way we would like to see our country flourish. That’s been a lot of the motivation for this legislation from the legislature in the General Assembly and other interested parties; we recognize that these nations are not friendly to us and we do not want these nations that are not friendly to us getting a grip on some of our productive farmland and the resources we use to feed and clothe our people,” says Bellflower.

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By: John Holcomb