SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee

The oldest of the standing committees, the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee’s agenda focuses on issues critical to the future of farming and farm communities. As the "engine of the economy," agriculture constitutes a vital sector of the economies of most Southern states. A principal focus of the Committee's work centers on rural development and rural communities, convening a series of sessions that investigates the differences (and surprising similarities) between rural and urban America and how to begin to bridge the divides between these communities.

Recent Committee initiatives include rural housing, ag education, updates on international trade and agriculture, consolidation in the farm sector, state actions on animal welfare, and conservation and farm land preservation. Other issues in which the Committee has long-standing interest include the status of the rural South, and food safety and security. The Committee has focused on the changing face of agriculture across America and conditions in the rural South. Additionally, the Committee works annually with public and private agencies, local and federal officials, and the land grant university system to assure the continued vitality of the region’s farm and rural communities.

2017-18
Chair

Senator
Daniel B. Verdin III

South Carolina

2017-18
Vice Chair

Senator
Casey Murdock

Oklahoma

Immediate
Past Chair

Representative
Andy Anders

Louisiana

Committee
Liaison

Anne Roberts Brody

Anne
Roberts Brody

Policy Analyst

Recent Research


Policy Analysis | May 10, 2018

Agriculture Sector's Contribution to State GDP, 2016-2017

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.3 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017.  Economic growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase.  Despite this growth, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector decreased 9.4 percent nationally – the culmination of five consecutive quarterly declines.  While still struggling, states in the Southern region fared better than their Midwestern neighbors, which experienced the sharpest declines.  Although the agriculture sector declined in each of the Southern states, only Louisiana experienced an overall decline in real GDP.  As Congress continues to draft the 2018 Farm Bill, states reliant on farm economies will be paying close attention to any changes that may revive this important sector.

Contribution of Southern states' agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors to percent change in real GDP, 2016-2017
State Percent change in real GDP Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
Alabama 1.2 -0.03
Arkansas 1.1 -0.16
Florida 2.2 -0.08
Georgia 2.7 -0.01
Kentucky 1.8 -0.08
Louisiana -0.2 -0.07
Mississippi 0.3 -0.12
Missouri 1.1 -0.21
North Carolina 2.3 -0.05
Oklahoma 0.5 -0.15
South Carolina 2.3 -0.02
Tennessee 2.5 -0.03
Texas 2.6 -0.04
Virginia 2.0 -0.01
West Virginia 2.6 -0.02

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis


Policy Analysis | April 3, 2018

Apiculture and Land Use Valuation

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

Apiculture - the maintenance of honeybees and hives - provides farmers and hobbyists with a variety of enterprises including production of beeswax, honey and other edible bee products; crop pollination services and sale of bees to other beekeepers. Due to the extensive problems caused by various diseases and pests of the honeybee, many feral or wild honeybees have been eliminated, which has had a significant negative impact on the pollination of flowering plants.

The domestic honeybee plays a vital role in agriculture. Honeybees pollinate many of the plants which produce the food consumed by humankind. Examples of plants pollinated by honeybees include almonds, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. The rapid decline of feral honeybees has greatly increased the need for managed honeybees to serve this crucial role of plant pollination.

Because of the important linkages between apian populations and agricultural production, many states in the Southern region extend a “current use” exemption to bee keepers. Current use valuation allows the valuation of agricultural land to be based on the actual use of the property, rather than market value. Of the 15 states comprising the Southern Legislative Conference, six explicitly include apiaries or apian products in the statutory definition of agricultural purposes/land eligible for a current use valuation.

Information relative to the six Southern states that designate apiaries as agricultural land is outlined below.

States with Apiaries Designated as Agricultural Land
State Definition Citation Type
Alabama Agricultural and forest property: all real property used for raising, harvesting, and selling crops or for the feeding, breeding, management, raising, sale of, or the production of livestock, including beef cattle, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules, poultry, fur-bearing animals, honeybees, and fish, or for dairying and the sale of dairy products, or for the growing and sale of timber and forest products, or any other agricultural or horticultural use or animal husbandry and any combination thereof. Code of Ala. § 40-8-1 Current Use
Florida Agricultural purposes: includes, but is not limited to, horticulture; floriculture; viticulture; forestry; dairy; livestock; poultry; bee; pisciculture, if the land is used principally for the production of tropical fish; aquaculture, including algaculture; sod farming; and all forms of farm products as defined in s. 823.14(3) and farm production. Fla. Stat. § 193.461 Classified Use*


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Webinar | June 14, 2017

Recent Developments in Agriculture and Food Law: Impacts on the States

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

Agriculture and food law at the local, state and national level is changing constantly, with impacts to farmers, foresters, food producers, and rural residents. Since January, significant legal developments impacting rural and agricultural policy have emerged, including: repeal of the Clean Water Rule, state “purple paint” legislation, property tax assessment for farmland, and organic practice rules. This webinar examined the implications of these and other recent legal developments in agriculture and food policy.

This webinar was presented by the National Agricultural Law Center and the regional offices of The Council of State Governments.

Presenter: Harrison Pittman, Director, National Agricultural Law Center, Arkansas
Presentation: Archived Webinar | PowerPoint Slides

More SLC Research into Agriculture


SLC Regional Resource | December 7, 2016

The Case for Cuba

Webinar | October 3, 2014

Food Safety Modernization Act

Policy Analysis | September 17, 2014

Feral Hog Containment

Issue Alert | June 25, 2014

U.S. Agriculture Exports: Latest Trends

Policy Analysis | March 13, 2012

National Ag Day--March 8th

SLC Regional Resource | July 2, 2011

Food Safety: Building an Integrated System

Policy Analysis | October 25, 2010

Agricultural Land Assessments

SLC Regional Resource | June 1, 2006

2007 Farm Bill in Context (Summer 2006 Update)

SLC Regional Resource | April 1, 2006

Farm to School

SLC Regional Resource | July 1, 2005

2007 Farm Bill in Context

SLC Regional Resource | January 1, 2005

The Tobacco Buyout

SLC Regional Resource | September 1, 2002

Finally, the Farm Bill

SLC Special Series Report | February 1, 2002

Tobacco in Transition

SLC Regional Resource | July 1, 2001

Contracting in Tobacco

SLC Regional Resource | August 1, 2000

International Trade and Agriculture

SLC Regional Resource | March 1, 2000

Agriculture and Biotechnology