The Alabama House of Representatives unanimously passed a $2.1 billion General Fund (GF) budget, including important funding for agricultural programs.
HB 152 by Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, was approved 103-0 and now goes to the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee for consideration.
Alabama Farmers Federation funding priorities included $575,000 at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to offset farmer registration fees for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The House-passed budget retained CAFO funding and included a $3.4 million increase for ADEM requested by Gov. Kay Ivey. The Federation also supported continuation of $81,403 to match federal funds for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) aimed at increasing on-farm irrigation. The amount was included in the level funding appropriation of $2.4 million for the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee.
Federation Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts thanked lawmakers for recognizing the importance of farming and forestry to the state.
“We appreciate Gov. Ivey requesting fiscally responsible budgets that provide needed funding to agriculture and forestry programs,” he said. “We also thank Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) for his leadership in chairing the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.”
The GF budget included $12.6 million for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI), including $3.3 million for the Resource Conservation and Development Program (RC&D), up $367,242 from last year. Funding for ADAI operations was unchanged from a year ago.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) appropriation included level funding of $2.5 million for broadband planning grants. Alabama Forestry Commission funding increased $500,000 to $8.2 million, including $1.1 million for rural and community fire protection. Additionally, the Emergency Forest Fire Fund was unchanged at $250,000.
Major GF increases from last year included about $40 million for the Department of Corrections, including about $30 million to hire 500 more correctional officers and increase pay by 20% to help with retention; $5.5 million to hire and equip 30 new State Troopers; and $12 million for a 2% state employee pay raise.