Once a year in Atlanta, grassroots advocacy comes to life as Georgia Farm Bureau members gather for a chance to hear about the important ag issues being debated and for a chance to meet with their representatives – something GFB President, Tom McCall says shows just how important the agriculture industry is to those that represent them.
“When we have this every year, it lets our people get to know their elected people and they can work together with them, and they get to know them and when they call them, they’ll listen to them more than they would if they was just somebody cold calling,” says McCall. “It’s people who are here on their own dime. They’re not getting paid. They left their farm, they left their business to come and support Farm Bureau and the policies that we push for.”
The annual event couldn’t have come at a better time as there are several bills this legislative session that would have a direct impact on the state’s agriculture industry, such as House Bill 189 – a bill that would increase haul weights by for trucks hauling agricultural goods – something Jake Matthews, Governmental Affairs Specialist with GFB says would be great for farmers and producers when transporting commodities that have variable weights.
“Currently in the state of Georgia, you can haul eighty thousand pounds on a five-axle truck,” says Matthews. “Agriculture for a long time, has been granted an exemption for that where they can actually haul up to eighty-four thousand pounds; that’s actually a five percent variance on top of the eighty thousand pounds, and what that’s for really is to account for just the unpredictable nature of hauling ag commodities. When you start getting into moisture content of certain commodities as well as fluctuating live-weight of cattle for instance, that variance is really important to make sure there’s some give there, for farmers and folks hauling their product, to have some give there as they can’t really tell how much that truck’s going to weigh unless they’re weighing it. So, having that variance is good to account for those sort of things.”
According to Matthews, the measure would also help create an even playing field with other states in the region.
“When you look at our surrounding and neighboring states in the Southeast, you got a number of states that have higher truck weights; allowable haul weights than we do. Some of those states, those higher weights are specific to agriculture, kind of how we have it here in Georgia right now. Other states, it’s across the board, so there’s definitely a little bit of variation to how different states do it, but if you look at it holistically, Georgia is behind on the amount of weight that we can haul as compared to our neighboring southeastern states,” says Matthews.
Matthews says the measure would also be more economical for farmers and producers when transporting their commodities – as more per load results in fewer trips.
“We believe that increasing those haul weights is really a direct benefit to farmers’ bottom line. If you can carry more on one truck, you’re going to be able to have fewer trips to move your product and like I said, that will be a direct benefit to farmers’ bottom line,” says Matthews.
By: John Holcomb