Ag Fares Well In Spring Legislative Session
During an abbreviated spring Legislative Session, the General Fund (GF) and Education Trust Fund (ETF) budgets increased, including funding for programs important to Alabama farmers.
The $7.2 billion ETF budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, was the largest in state history. Overall, the Career Tech line item was $8.3 million, including $451,900 for agribusiness education programs such as Ag in the Classroom.
Funding at Auburn University included $250,000 to revive the livestock judging program.
The Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station saw an increase of $673,000 to $34.3 million, while funding for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System increased $707,000 to $36 million. The Rural Broadband Grant Program through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) was level funded at $20 million.
In the $2.4 billion GF budget, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries received almost $15 million, including new funds for the Sweet Grown Alabama state agricultural brand, $250,000; and Farm to School, $120,000.
Funding for the Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFO) program at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management was preserved at $575,000. The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) received an additional $1.6 million for a total of almost $10.4 million. AFC appropriations included $1.7 million for rural and community fire protection.
Funding for Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) programs increased to $4 million. The Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) received $2.9 million, including more than $81,000 in matching funds for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to increase on-farm irrigation, and more than $350,000 in matching funds for the Feral Swine Program. SWCC received an additional $200,000 in the ETF for a total of $2.1 million, while the education appropriation for RC&D was up to $3.1 million.