December 15, 2017
Rural economic development will be a priority for the Alabama Farmers Federation when the Alabama Legislature convenes Jan. 9.
Governmental and Agricultural Programs Department Director Brian Hardin said legislation and budget allocations are being discussed that would ensure farmers and rural families benefit from the rebounding economy.
Keeping Alabama’s tax structure and regulatory environment friendly to farmers and small businesses will help sustain economic development, too, Hardin said. The Federation is meeting with other stakeholder groups to combat rural crime, improve infrastructure, expand broadband internet access and fund agricultural education programs.
Last year, Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Red Hill, introduced a bill to expand rural broadband by offering provider incentives. Federation policy supports increasing access to high-speed internet. The Federation also is working with supporters of the proposed Alabama Rural Jobs Act, aimed at growing rural businesses.
“Leadership changes in Montgomery and Washington are creating opportunities for rural Alabama, and we must be ready to take advantage of those opportunities,” Hardin said. “The Federation is closely monitoring the proposed Republican tax plan and any potential impacts it may have on state budgeting. We also will continue to support improving farm-to-market roads and bridges.”
Budget priorities include the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) program at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management; Career Tech Initiative; agricultural and citizenship education; irrigation; rural crime; and support for the state’s land grant universities, rural health programs, Extension system and agricultural and forestry agencies.
The Federation will welcome lawmakers to the 2018 regular session Jan. 17 with the Taste of Alabama Legislative Reception. About 100 elected officials will attend the event to sample Alabama-grown foods and visit with farmers.
For weekly updates during the legislative session, read the Capitol Connection newsletter at AlfaFarmers.org.