The Georgia legislative session began on Jan. 8, and agricultural leaders have set goals for what they would like to achieve this session.
Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, spoke about the council’s priorities for the 2018 session.
Tolar laid out a few key issues that will take much of his focus. He said he has spent the past year identifying the primary issues in rural Georgia. Ultimately, Tolar would like to see business boom in rural Georgia, but part of that endeavor includes engaging the community to become involved. Right now, there is not an answer on how to do that.
Tolar said broadband will be a huge aspect of bringing business back to rural Georgia. In this day and age, businesses cannot thrive without proper access to broadband, which rural Georgia is lacking.
Another primary issue to be tackled in the 2018 session is the Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption (GATE) card. According to Tolar, the GATE card will most likely see some changes this session. “I think these changes can be favorable in the long run,” he said. “(With these changes), we can protect the GATE card, we can make it more stable, and we can make sure people aren’t abusing the program.”
Tolar said Georgia agriculture has a few key legislators it relies on. For example, the agriculture committee leaders are agriculture’s “go-to guys.” Those leaders include John Wilkinson in the Senate and Tom McCall in the House. Tolar added that they are keeping a close relationship with the natural resources committees, as well as the ways and means committees due to their goals regarding the GATE program and rural Georgia. “So we’ll be spending a lot of time in those committees between the House and the Senate,” Tolar concluded.
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