ALABAMA FARMERS CONCERNED ABOUT PROPOSED PROPANE CHECKOFF
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow propane dealers and wholesalers to vote on a checkoff program for their industry has sparked concerns by farmers who fear the added cost would be passed on to customers.
SB 243 and SB 270 are sponsored by Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, and HB 304 and HB 305 are sponsored by Rep. Warren Beck, R-Geneva. Both sets of bills would call for a constitutional amendment and provide enabling legislation for a checkoff equal to $100 to $500 per 100,000 gallons of propane gas sold in Alabama.
If the constitutional amendment is passed by Alabama voters and the checkoff is later approved by two-thirds of dealers and wholesalers, the checkoff would fund safety education and marketing activities. An advisory council made up of six propane dealers, two wholesalers and one member of the public would oversee the checkoff funds. Alabama poultry farmers and greenhouse growers have expressed concerns about the proposed constitutional amendment because it would increase their already high production costs.
"Propane was 80 cents per gallon last year, and it is $1.20 this winter," said Blount County farmer Dennis Maze, who chairs the Alabama Farmers Federation's State Poultry Committee. "This additional cost of propane will decrease the poultry producer's net income."
Greenhouse growers echoed Maze's concerns. Keith Pugh, a member of the Federation's Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Committee, said the checkoff could cost some growers thousands of dollars a year. Federation Poultry Director Guy Hall also noted that poultry producers will not be able to pass the added cost on to their customers because payments received by growers are set by the poultry integrators.