March 10, 2017
Alabama’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) program would be fully funded under a budget approved Wednesday by the House Ways and Means General Fund (GF) Committee.
The budget allocates $575,000 to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to run the program, up from $400,000 in Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposal.
The House committee’s spending plan would place the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) program under the Alabama Department Agriculture and Industries (AGI). Most state agencies would be level funded, when compared to last year.
The cash-strapped Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), however, would receive an additional $800,000, including about $99,000 for rural and community fire protection. Since 2011, General Fund appropriations for the AFC are down $8 million or 55 percent. Interim State Forester Gary Cole said without additional funds, the commission will have to reduce staffing by at least 30 people.
Bills have been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives to provide supplemental funding in the current fiscal year for AFC costs related to fall wildfires. SB 148 by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, and HB 157, by Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, would provide an additional $550,000 from the Emergency Forest Fire Fund. South’s bill received a favorable report from the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee. Pittman’s bill awaits action in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee.
The budget now moves to the full House for consideration.