Gov. Kemp Signs Bills that Will Impact Georgia Ag

Valdosta, GA |

While the Farm Bill might be stuck in limbo in the nation’s capital, Georgia farmers recently received some good news in Valdosta, where Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a number of bills aimed at helping the agricultural industry. And the most talked about was a piece of legislation that prohibits certain foreign entities from buying up farmland.

“The Governor signed Senate Bill 420 today, something that’s been a priority of mine and our office as well as many members of the general assembly. We appreciate his work on that to protect farmland and protect agricultural land in the state of Georgia from those foreign adversaries that want to do harm to the United States. So, it’s a big day for agriculture. It’s a big day to protect our state’s number one industry,” says Tyler Harper, GA Commissioner of Agriculture.

“Well, I mean look, states all over the country are addressing that. It’s a national security and we were very thoughtful about how we did that, a lot of great legislative leadership on that and honored to sign it. It’s the right thing to do,” says Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp.

Twelve other states enacted similar policies last year in an effort to address the dwindling number of farm acres and strengthen national security.

“In agriculture, one of the key things you need to be successful is land. It’s a key component of being able to grow crops, livestock, or poultry. If you don’t have land, you can’t participate in agriculture. So, protecting agricultural land is key. It is vital, and there’s a lot of different way that we do that, but obviously protecting our ag interest in the state and protecting our ability to feed, clothe, and shelter ourself is vital. Agriculture is national security,” says Harper.

That was far from the only piece of legislation being signed as House Bill 827 increases the penalty for cattle theft, Senate Bill 436 expands the use of farm-use vehicles and Senate Bill 340 introduces tax reform policy to help alleviate some of the rising input costs.

“In agriculture right now, we’re seeing significant issues in input costs, weather, inflation and the issues that we’re dealing with on the farm directly. I know I see it in my own operation and the increased costs. The legislation the Governor signed today is specifically dealing with DEF fluid, is a perfect example of how we are working to address those issues on the farm where previously DEF fluid was not considered a tax-exempt input in agriculture. As you know, in agriculture, DEF fluid is a vital component and a required component to run equipment today,” says Harper.

The location of this signing was no coincidence, as Governor Kemp wanted to send a strong message to the rural community that legislators are looking out for them.

“It is so important for us to be in South Georgia to let people know what we’re doing to support our farm families, agribusiness, economic development, things that we’ve done in the budget. Myself and a lot of other people realize the strength that we have in rural Georgia. We want to continue for people to have opportunity all over the state no matter their zip code,” says Governor Kemp.

By: Damon Jones