Agricultural Commodities Promotion Hb 298

CitationVol. 30 No. 1
Publication year2013

Agricultural Commodities Promotion HB 298

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Agricultural Commodities Promotion: Amend Chapter 8 of Title 2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Relating to Agricultural Commodities Promotion, so as to Create the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Georgia Grown Products; Provide for the Operation and Function of the Commodity Commission; Increase the Membership for the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Cotton; Exclude the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Georgia Grown Products from General Provisions Relating to Agricultural Commodities Promotion; Repeal Conflicting Laws; and for Other Purposes

Code Sections: O.C.G.A. §§ 2-8-10, -14 (amended); -90, -91, -92, -93, -94, -95, -96, -97, -98, -99, -100, -101, -102, -103, -104, -105 (new)

Bill Number: HB 298

Act Number: 21

Georgia Laws: 2013 Ga. Laws 74

Summary: The Act creates an Agricultural Commodity Commission for Georgia Grown Products and details the membership structure, operation, and function of the Commission. The Act also increases the number of members of the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Cotton.

Effective Date: July 1, 2013


In 1961, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Georgia Agricultural Commodities Promotion Act.1 To implement article VII,

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section III, paragraph II(b) of the Georgia Constitution,2 the Georgia Agricultural Commodities Promotion Act created agricultural commodity commissions to promote "the production, marketing, sale, use and utilization, processing, and improvement of agricultural products" of the state of Georgia.3 Each commodity commission is an instrumentality of the State of Georgia and must be reaffirmed every three years by a vote of the producers of that commodity.4 Upon approval by the producers, the commodity commission is "authorized to prepare, issue, administer, and enforce plans for promoting the sale of [such] agricultural commodity. . . . "5 The commission may also issue orders and amendments containing, among others, provisions for quality standards, provisions prohibiting unfair trade practices, and provisions establishing research studies and education programs.6 Implementation and enforcement of the marketing plans, orders, and amendments are funded through mandatory assessments of

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commodity producers.7 Because the Act of 1961 faced early constitutional challenges related to the levying of such mandatory assessments,8 it was repealed in 1969 and replaced with an act of the same name that changed the collection structure of the commodity commissions to eliminate any constitutional concerns.9 The Georgia General Assembly has since created fifteen commodities commissions, which are all administered by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.10 These include commissions for cotton, peanuts, pecans, peaches, tobacco, eggs, milk, and others.11

In 2000, the Department of Agriculture created a brand to represent all agricultural products commercially produced in Georgia: Georgia Grown.12 Similar to commodity commissions statutorily created by the Georgia General Assembly, which are designed to promote, research, and facilitate education of various Georgia agricultural products,13 the Georgia Grown program is

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designed to promote Georgia's locally grown products and "aid [Georgia's] agricultural economies by bringing together producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers, agritourism and consumers in one powerful, statewide community."14 This marketing and economic development program underwent substantial redevelopment in early 2012, as the Department of Agriculture under Commissioner Gary Black sought to provide a "fresher look and better plan" to grow the Georgia Grown program.15 With a new logo and a renewed purpose, the Georgia Grown program gained more than 300 members from January 2012 to September 2012.16 As of April 30, 2013, there were 617 total members—216 paying and 401 non-paying members.17

To continue this growth and to raise more funding to accomplish the program's marketing and economic development goals, the Commissioner of Agriculture, along with members of the Georgia Grown program, sought to transform the Georgia Grown program into a statutorily-authorized agricultural commodity commission for locally grown Georgia products.18 Thus, with the Commissioner of Agriculture's support, Representative Robert Dickey (R-140th) introduced House Bill (HB) 298 during the 2013 Georgia General Assembly Session.19

Bill Tracking of HB 298

Consideration and Passage by the House

Representatives Robert Dickey (R-140th), Buddy Harden (R-148th), Sam Watson (R-172nd), Bubber Epps (R-144th), Jason Shaw (R-176th), and Rick Jasperse (R-11th) sponsored HB 298.20 The

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House read the bill for the first time on February 12, 2013.21 The House read the bill for the second time on February 13, 2013.22 Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-7th) assigned it to the House Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, which initially favorably reported the bill on February 20, 2013 with no changes.23 After going to the Rules Committee, though, Representative Dickey offered several changes to the bill, as recommended by the Rules Committee.24 The bill was recommitted on February 22, 2013 to the House Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.25 The House Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs then approved these changes and favorably reported a Committee substitute on February 27, 2013.26

Differing only slightly from the bill as introduced, the Committee substitute contained three substantive changes: first, it added the Georgia forestry industry to the bill;27 second, it increased the membership of the commission from three to five additional members;28 and third, it increased the membership of the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Cotton from five to seven additional members per the request of the Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black.29 To include the forestry industry, which had been inadvertently omitted from the first version of the bill,30 the Committee substitute added "silvicultural" products to the definition of Georgia grown products and "milling" as a type of agricultural

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processing.31 Because the Georgia Grown Products Commission will bring together many different types of producers and growers, the substitute also increased the number of commission members from three to five additional members.32 The House read the Committee substitute as amended on March 1, 2013.33 The House adopted the Committee substitute by a vote of 161 to 1.34

Consideration and Passage by the Senate

Senator John Wilkinson (R-50th) sponsored HB 298 in the Senate.35 The bill was first read on March 4, 2013.36 Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R) assigned the bill to the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.37 The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs favorably reported the bill on March 14, 2013.38 The bill was read a second time in the Senate on March 20, 2013, and a third time on March 25, 2013.39 Also on March 25, 2013, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 49 to 0.40 The bill was sent to the Governor on April 1, 2013 and signed into law on April 18, 2013.41

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The Act

The Act amends Title 2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to agricultural commodities promotion, for the purpose of creating the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Georgia Grown Products.42

Section 1 of the Act provides for the operation and function of the commission.43 It amends Chapter 8 of Title 2 by creating a new article, Article 4, which adds new Code sections, 2-8-90 through 2-8-105.44 Code sections 92 and 93 establish the creation of the Agricultural Commodity Commission and further define its composition.45 Code section 2-8-93 provides that the commission shall be composed of the Commissioner of Agriculture, the president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, and elected members of both the House and Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committees, who are either a producer or processor, as well as additional members who will be appointed by the aforementioned members.46

Moreover, section 1 of the Act defines the commission's authority.47 Code section 2-8-95 authorizes the commission "to accept donations, gifts, grants, and other funds or property and to use the same for commission purposes."48 Given the authority granted to the commission, code section 2-8-96 protects members of the commission from suit by making them immune from liability in the same manner as state officers and employees under the Georgia Tort Claims Act.49 In carrying out its purpose, the commission may then "issue, administer, and enforce the provisions of marketing orders."50 Code section 2-8-98 further provides that the marketing orders may only include provisions for: (1) establishing "plans for advertising and sales promotion to maintain present markets or to create new or

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larger markets for Georgia grown products"; (2) "carrying on research studies in promoting the production, marketing, sale, use and utilization, and improvement of Georgia grown products"; and (3) "establishing an educational program designed to acquaint producers or the general public about Georgia grown products."51 Code section 2-8-99 instructs the means by which the Commissioner or commission may effect amendments to these orders.52

In order to defray the costs of formulating, issuing, administering, and enforcing the marketing orders, Code section 2-8-100 also provides that the commission may levy assessments upon producers and processors for their utilization of the Georgia Grown trademark.53 Code section 2-8-102 then instructs how the commission should collect, audit, and deposit these funds.54 Code section 2-8-101 allows the commission to limit the application of marketing orders to specific areas or portions of the state.55 In cases of failure to comply with a marketing order, or violation of any rule or regulation issued under the Act...

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