The Alabama Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a $2.1 billion General Fund (GF) budget, providing funding for important agriculture and forestry programs.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Preston Roberts expressed appreciation to lawmakers who worked to balance the state’s spending needs.
“House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, and Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Range, did an outstanding job evaluating requests and writing a balanced budget that funds public services,” said Roberts, director of agricultural legislation.
Agricultural and forestry funding for Fiscal Year 2020 (beginning Oct. 1, 2019), compared to current year, includes (earmarks follow line items):
Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries: $12,736,830, up $442,242
Resource Conservation & Development: $3,367,242, up $367,242
Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFO): $575,000, no change
Alabama Forestry Commission: $8,620,520, up $875,000
Forest Worker Training: $200,000, new
Rural and Community Fire Protection: $1,316,910, up $175,000
Soil and Water Conservation Committee: $2,450,661, no change
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): $81,403, no change
Emergency Forest Fire Fund: $250,000, no change
The CAFO appropriation through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management offsets registration fees for farmers. The RCPP provides matching funds for federal programs to expand on-farm irrigation. Both are funding priorities for the Federation.
Major GF increases from last year included $40 million for the Department of Corrections to hire 500 more correctional officers and increase pay by 20% to help with retention; $5.5 million to hire and equip 50 new State Troopers; and $12 million for a 2% state employee pay raise.