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June 26, 2013   Email to Friend 

Legislative Session Could Improve Rural Alabama
Mary Johnson

Laws from the 2013 legislative session aim to improve rural Alabama, from education and transportation to farm and crop security.

On the session’s final day, May 20, state senators approved a $50 million bond issue to provide new and established career tech programs with state-of-the-art equipment and tools. Alabama Farmers Federation Young Farmers Director Jennifer Himburg said high school students will receive a better education because of the funding.  

“New equipment will allow students enrolled in career tech programs to move straight from high school to careers or technical schools without retraining,” said Himburg, who also serves on the governor’s College and Career Ready Task Force. “Some of these students will become the mechanics and welders who build and maintain farm equipment while others will become farmhands and farm managers. Other states have increased graduation rates and student involvement by improving career tech programs. Doing the same in Alabama will provide a well-trained, skilled workforce for industries, businesses and farmers.”

The Rural Assistance Match Program (RAMP) established during the session will improve rural bridges and roads, providing safer routes for heavy vehicles like school buses and trucks. RAMP provides 22 counties with state and federal funds to meet the local match required to participate in the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).

Gov. Robert Bentley announced more than 250 projects in the first round of RAMP. For a complete list, visit http://1.usa.gov/15FIEOz.

Farmers may benefit from a revision to the irrigation tax credit passed in the 2012 session. The change allows farmers five years to claim the tax credit after a qualifying irrigation or reservoir construction project is completed. Senate sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he hopes farmers take advantage of the opportunity to protect crops from drought. “If (this credit) will help someone make the very big decision to irrigate all or part of their farm to improve the predictability of their yields, then it’s a good day’s work for the Legislature,” he said.

Along with protecting crops, the Legislature took steps to protect families, farms, animals and equipment in rural areas. A law reorganizing state law enforcement agencies created an agriculture and rural crimes investigators unit.

For more information visit alfafarmers.org/CapitolConnection or youtube.com/AlabamaFarmersFed.


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