HOUSE COMMITTEE APPROVES AG BILLS TO HELP STATE FARMERS
The House Agriculture Committee met Jan. 16 and heard testimony from Federation commodity leaders prior to voting on several bills.
Cotton Checkoff Bill (HB65) - was approved by the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday and is awaiting action by the full House of Representatives. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, and will allow changes to be made in the assessment rate (checkoff funds) paid by Alabama cotton producers. The new amount will be restricted to not exceed $1 per bale. Under existing law, the assessment is limited to 3/10 of 1 percent of the bale value, which is based on the average market price for cotton. The new assessment rate could be determined annually by the Alabama Cotton Commission.
Sheep and Goat Checkoff Bills - (HB228 & HB229 and SB253 & SB254) also were passed by the House Agriculture Committee and await full action in the House. HB228 and SB253 will allow sheep and goat producers in Alabama to hold a referendum that will enable them to collect funds at the point of sale to promote the production, marketing, use and sale of sheep and goats and their products.
The companion bills, HB229 and SB254, will allow the Alabama Farmers Federation Sheep and Goat Committee to be the certified association to conduct and administer the referendum and associated programs. The amount of the assessment would be 50-cents per sheep or goat and would be deducted from all sales. The bills are sponsored by Rep. Terry Spicer, D-Elba, and Sen. Hinton Mitchem, D-Albertville. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee.
Prohibition of Certain Animal Imports Bill (HB225 & SB235) - was passed by the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday and awaits action by the full House. It increases fines from $50 to $250 to $1,000 to $5,000 for violations of the commissioner's regulations of Conservation and Natural Resources prohibition on importation of certain animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish which are not in the best interest of the state. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Carothers, D-Dothan, it will provide protection for farmers from the spread of animal diseases such as the recent hoof and mouth disease outbreak in other countries. It is sponsored by Sen. Jack Biddle, R-Gardendale, in the Senate where it is assigned to the Conservation, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Catfish Labeling Bill (HB220 & SB268) - was passed by the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday. It will require truthful labeling of fish products sold in Alabama. It is sponsored by Rep. Allen Layson, D-Reform, and Sen. Charles Steele, D-Tuscaloosa. It is aimed at protecting consumers from purchasing fish mislabeled as farm-raised catfish. The bill would require catfish sold in Alabama to be labeled "farm-raised catfish," "river or lake catfish," "imported catfish," or "ocean catfish."
The Ag Terrorism Bill (HB306 & SB271) was introduced this week and was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Health Committee. It will revise the Alabama Animal Research and Production Facilities Act to include crop and crop facility protection. It is sponsored by Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, and provides protection to farmers as well as private and public research investments. The bill requires that if a person is convicted of a violation of this act, the person or group must make full restitution. Sen. George Clay, D-Tuskegee, is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.