The Georgia Senate has passed SB 97 by a vote of 47-0.
SB 97 would give cattle producers the opportunity to vote in a referendum to decide whether to create a Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Beef.
The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Georgia Farm Bureau supports allowing beef producers to vote on whether to have a commodity commission to fund research, education and promotion of beef produced in Georgia.
If cattle producers get to hold a referendum, they must approve the commission by a two-thirds vote before it goes into effect. If approved by the producers, the commission would be required to conduct a reaffirmation vote every three years under the Georgia Agricultural and Commodities Promotion Act of 1961.
The purpose of a beef commission would be to promote beef products, educate consumers, and fund research to help cattle producers. Funding for these activities would be generated by a state cattle checkoff that cannot exceed one dollar per head.
Cattle selling for less than $100 would be exempt from the checkoff.
SB 97 is the result of an initiative of the Cattle Industry Stakeholder Investment Group. The group held its first meeting at the Georgia Farm Bureau building on June 29, 2012.
Representatives of Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Cattlemen's Association, Georgia Milk Producers, and the Georgia Livestock Marketing Association attended the meeting. The group supported the creation of a Georgia Commodity Commission for Beef, and on Oct. 3, a joint letter was sent to Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black requesting the Georgia Department of Agriculture's assistance in the effort.
Georgia Farm Bureau supports passage of SB 97. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) presented the bill on the floor on Feb. 1 with Sens. Bill Heath (R-Bremen) and Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) as co-sponsors. Both Heath and Ginn are members of the Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee.
"The current system we have with the National Beef Checkoff has not been able to keep up with the growing population and its respective beef demands. This new commission will sustain beef research, promotion and education efforts that farmers have enjoyed in the past," Wilkinson said.
The state currently oversees 12 farmer-funded commissions for apples, blueberries, corn, cotton, eggs, equine, milk, peaches, pecans, soybeans, tobacco and vegetables.
To see more from the Georgia Farm Bureau, visit http://www.gfb.org/.