HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSES GENERAL FUND BUDGET
Alabama’s Concentrated Animal Feed Operation (CAFO) program would be fully funded under a General Fund (GF) budget approved Tuesday by the House of Representatives. 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.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell thanked House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, for his work to fully fund CAFO.
“We appreciate Rep. Clouse’s commitment to ensure Alabama farmers are not burdened with registration fees for growing poultry and livestock,” Parnell said. “He has worked with ADEM to identify the true cost of the mandated CAFO program and provide funding so those expenses aren't passed on to farmers.”
The House also provided the requested $81,403 in state matching funds for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), formerly called the Agriculture Water Enhancement Program (AWEP). Alabama Farmers Federation is the lead partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on RCPP projects to expand irrigation of cropland.
Most state agencies would be level funded under the plan, which does not include $19 million requested by Bentley for a state employee pay raise.
The House-approved budget would place the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) program under the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (AGI). The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) 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.
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 passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 96-4 and has been assigned to Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee where Pittman’s bill awaits action.