Ga. governor vetoes farmer legislation

Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has vetoed legislation that would have given farmers more input in environmental matters, according to published reports. Under pressure from environmental groups, Barnes refused to sign a new law requiring him to appoint a farmer to the 16-member board overseeing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and to consider naming a physician and a forester, as well.

Such a requirement, said Barnes, would mike it “increasingly difficult, if not impossible” to make the board representative of the state and of all areas covered by the DNR.

The bill, backed by key House leaders, was the latest attempt to give farmers more say over a board that makes water and livestock rules. Last year, lawmakers angry over rules restricting large hog farms tried to require all environmental policies to go through an agriculture advisory committee.

Lobbyists for the Sierra Club called the veto a victory over “special interest” legislation. But farmers were surprised by the move.

“This legislation had broad support,” said Georgia Farm Bureau spokesman Jay McCants. “We do feel like someone with agricultural experience needs to be on that board. They create a lot of regulations for farmers.”

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