Georgia Farm Bureau celebrates 80 years.

Consider the impact of agriculture in our state:

– contributes about $74.9 billion annually to Georgia’s economy, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development.

– one in seven Georgians works in agriculture, forestry or related fields.

– there were 42,257 farms in Georgia encompassing 9,620,836 acres of land. The average farm size was 228 acres.

For more than 80 years the Georgia Farm Bureau, with its membership of more than 300,000 families, has actively participated in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors. Founded in Cartersville in 1937, GFB recently commemorated their 80th anniversary with a monument installed on the grounds of the Bartow County Courthouse.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who fresh out of college worked for the GFB, spoke about the way forward,

“We can have good memories, but we have to pay that forward and we have to remind ourselves what the future holds. We’ve got to pledge to ourselves today and remind each other that our work is not done.”

 

Vote on Financial Choice Act Today

Government regulations have long hamstrung small and mid-size business from growing, becoming more successful and creating good paying jobs. Today the US House of Representatives will vote on the Financial Choice Act which essentially repeals the onerous regulations created by the Dodd-Frank legislation.

9th District Congressman Doug Collins provided an overview of this legislation before the vote later in today.

Collins supports Appropriations plan

9th District Congressman Doug Collins issued a press release announcing his support of an appropriation process introduced by 14th District Congressman Tom Graves to move 12 appropriation bills through the committee process before August and elevate conservative priorities in the budget for FY 2018.

In announcing his support the  Congressman said,

This plan is ambitious, and we know that. Conservatives have a responsibility to fund the government wisely, and the Constitution tells us that that process starts in the House. We have the ability to send a commonsense budget to the Senate ahead of the deadline, and I hope to see my colleagues take advantage of this opportunity.

20-some Memorial Days Later

For most of my life Memorial Day had been a day to honor those service men and women who died in service to our country, the official start of summer and a day for cookouts and picnics. That all changed on Memorial Day May 29, 1995. That day, about 11 AM, Sheriff’s Deputies arrived to tell Kathy and me that our 25-year-old son, Lance, was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Most bereaved parents know how the story goes from here – shock, disbelief, denial, grief, fog, anger etc. Thankfully Kathy dragged me to the local Compassionate Friends meeting and for the next couple of years I was in the care and comfort of those more experienced grievers.

One day I realized that I was one of those experienced grievers and had some responsibility to help others on this journey that no parent wants to take. So, over the years, that responsibility played out on a local level and then with the national organization.

One day I realized I had nothing left to give. I was too far down the line to be relevant for the newly bereaved and staying involved in the world of grief was not something I felt I was called to do. So, I quit.

Quitting doesn’t mean I don’t think about Lance, Scott or Erin. Quitting doesn’t mean that I didn’t love them or miss them or wish the situation was different. Quitting doesn’t mean that the sadness doesn’t return occasionally. Quitting simply means that I had reached the point that others refer to as “it takes as long as it takes”.

You probably noticed that I have been vague about the specific timing of my journey. That is intentional for I continue to believe that everyone’s journey is different and the timing of my transitions may not be right for every reader. You need to work through it at your speed.

The operative words here are “through it” which strongly implies there is an end. It is easy to stay wrapped the warm embrace of those well-intentioned seasoned grievers and professionals who are an important part of recovery and reinvestment. But, at least for me, the perpetual grief industry, with its grief cruises and grief camps, is not my end game.

So, this Memorial Day 2017, at least for this bereaved dad, is less about grief and more about the brave men and women who gave all, summer, cookouts, picnics and the positive things in my life.

Collins requests increased poultry production

Georgia’s 9th District Congressman Doug Collins has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow increased line speeds in poultry processing plants across the nation. In his letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Collins cited processors in South America, Asia, Canada, and Europe that are safely operating at line speeds of up to 200 birds per minute while U.S. continued to restrict production speed to 140 birds per minute.

Congressman Collins in making the case for increased line speeds cited the poultry impact in Georgia and specifically in the 9th District:

Agriculture remains a vital dimension of Georgia’s economy, while poultry production generates more than $18 billion for the state economy and $10.9 billion for the Ninth District economy annually.

Collins legislation to increase veterans medical access

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 gives veterans access to medical care from private providers under certain conditions. In practice the VA choose to ignore the spirit of the law and limit that access. Today Georgia 9th District Congressman Doug Collins introduced legislation to improve veterans ability to receive private health care options when their access to VA services is restricted.

Congressman Collins commented on the continuing problems at the VA and the role of the Expanding Veterans’ Access to Choice Act:

“The current reality is that men and women who have risked their well-being on behalf of their fellow Americans now face bureaucratic opposition when they attempt to schedule a doctor’s appointment. This is unacceptable.”

Poultry regulations targeted

On Friday ten members of the Georgia Congressional Delegation sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue urging him to rescind harmful Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules issued in the 11th hour of the Obama administration.
The bi-partisan letter urged Secretary Perdue to check and rescind three poultry-related regulations, which would inflict billions of dollars of economic harm to American agriculture, exceed GIPSA’s statutory authority, and represent an arbitrary and capricious abuse of federal regulatory authority.

With the impact of these regulations on Georgia’s poultry industry, these members of the Congressional Delegation reiterated their priorities to cut burdensome regulations and to promote American businesses.

A budget vote, an old arrest and there will be consequences

 

While the timing is curious, the pressure on freshman State Rep Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) is increasing because of a 2013 arrest for obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

As reported by the AJC, Rep. Gurtler was a passenger in the car of a driver arrested for driving under the influence by North Georgia College Police. According to the police report Gurtler failed to obey the officer’s command to stay in the car and was later arrested.

On January 13, 2017, a few days after the current general session convened, an Enotah assistant District Attorney filled paperwork not to prosecute the case as Representative Gurtler had completed a pre-trial diversionary program and paid a $250 fine.

We contacted Representative Gurtler and received his statement to his constituents in District 8 that said in part:

“This incident occurred 4 years ago and after requesting a jury trial to clear my name the District Attorney dismissed the obstruction charge…This is the Atlanta Liberal media and career politicians attacking our district because I have voted for our shared values and am working on your behalf…This is the type of politics that people have come to hate. I will continue to work on your behalf and I appreciate the support I have received from the district…”

 

Bullies under the Gold Dome?

According to a report by the AJC’s Greg Bluestein, a state rep from North Georgia was threatened by Governor Deal’s top aide. Representative Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) said the threat was a loss of funding to his district by Chris Riley.

“I am appalled by Mr. Riley’s actions of intimidation and bullying tactics of an elected official”, Gurtler said. “His actions were wrong and unethical, and this type of behavior goes against our system of separation of powers.”

This is not the first time legislators have reported less than cordial conversations with the Governors Chief of Staff. For his part Riley said,

“If he felt threatened by what I asked him and my defense of the governor’s position, we probably have bigger issues to address than separation of powers.”

While the rub seems to center on a number of “No” votes from the freshman representative, it should come as no surprise to those who followed Gurtler’s successful campaign of less government interference and fewer taxes.

Settlement Slush Funds

In an op-ed piece that appeared in yesterday’s The Hill, Georgia’s 9th District Congressman Doug Collins decried the actions of Federal Agencies reaching settlements in ongoing litigation and then funneling much of the settlement to entities other than those directly harmed by the wrong doing.

In making his case for the Stop Settlements Slush Fund Act, the Congressman stated:

Recent mortgage lending settlements illustrate the flimflam well. Major banks entered into settlements with the DOJ wherein hundreds of millions of settlement dollars went not to victims, nor to the Treasury, but to third-party groups.

Congressman Collins believe this legislation will move us one step closer to

the constitutional nirvana that comes with three checked, balanced, and complementary branches of government