Alabama legislature active on agricultural matters

Alabama farmers fared well during the 2002 session of the state's legislature, with several agricultural bills passing in the final hours, according to officials with the Alabama Farmers Federation.

The following bills were passed:

The Sheep and Goat Checkoff Bills 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 Ag Anti-Terrorism Bill protects farmers as well as private and public research investments. A person convicted of a violation of this act will pay restitution double the amount of damages.

The Prohibition of Certain Animal Imports Bill increases fines from $50 to $250 up to $1,000 to $5,000 for violations of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' prohibition on the importation of certain animals.

The Peanut Referendum Bill will change the percentage of votes needed to approve a checkoff from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority — the same as with all other checkoffs in the state. The bill also will allow only producers to vote on the referendum and would allow producers to hold a re-vote within 90 days of a vote, if a referendum fails.

The Cotton Checkoff Bill allows changes to be made in the assessment rate (checkoff funds) paid by Alabama cotton producers. The new amount cannot exceed $1 per bale. The new assessment rate could be determined annually by the Alabama Cotton Commission.

The Family Farm Week Resolution designates May 5-11 as Family Farm Week in Alabama.

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