Research / Agriculture
Other | January 2019
As the 2019 legislative cycle begins, legislators across the South are preparing and pre-filing legislation to address emerging and relevant policy issues in their states. With its regional focus, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is uniquely positioned to research and identify current and emerging policy issues and trends. This report was prepared by SLC policy analysts Anne Roberts Brody, Cody Allen and Roger Moore as a snapshot of issues and trends that are anticipated to emerge during the 2019 legislative term.
This report previews current and emerging trends that have been identified under the purview of the SLC’s six standing committees, which are relevant to policymakers across the South. The Agriculture and Rural Development preview discusses industrial hemp cultivation and the struggles of rural hospitals, while the Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs preview considers occupational licensing regulations and the funding of transportation and state infrastructure. In Education policy, teacher pay legislation and school counseling are trends to watch for the 2019 legislative term, while the management of coal combustion residuals — commonly referred to as coal ash — is an important emerging issue in the Energy and Environment arena. The Fiscal Affairs and Government Operations preview compares online sales tax legislation in the wake of the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision, and the Human Services and Public Safety preview examines balance billing policy at both the state and federal level.
Policy Analysis | October 2018
Transportation facilitates agriculture development by linking farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service industries to grain elevators, processors, feedlots, markets, ports, rail, and barge facilities. Because agriculture requires large amounts of fertilizers and chemicals, it needs motor carriers that can safely haul hazardous materials. However, obtaining and maintaining a commercial drivers license can be costly and time consuming.
The inherently seasonal nature of agriculture requires drivers to be available to transport freshly harvested crops, or to provide fuel to implements of husbandry in a timely fashion. Delays caused by driver or vehicle shortages can be costly, resulting in spoiled crops and/or reduced returns. Likewise, the seasonal nature of this work means that farmers, farm workers and certain farm-related service industries need the ability to transport these goods during limited periods of time and for shorter distances than drivers for other industries. Recognizing this, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act of 2012 authorized a broad exemption from many federal regulations for vehicles that are classified as covered farm vehicles and granted states broad authority to waive certain Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements for farmers and employees of designated farm-related service industries. These exemptions offer the flexibility that is vital to the agriculture industry.
Federally Authorized CDL Waivers
Policy Analysis | May 2018
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.3 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017. Economic growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Despite this growth, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector decreased 9.4 percent nationally – the culmination of five consecutive quarterly declines. While still struggling, states in the Southern region fared better than their Midwestern neighbors, which experienced the sharpest declines. Although the agriculture sector declined in each of the Southern states, only Louisiana experienced an overall decline in real GDP. As Congress continues to draft the 2018 Farm Bill, states reliant on farm economies will be paying close attention to any changes that may revive this important sector.
SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee
Daniel B. Verdin III
2018-2019 Vice Chair
The oldest of the standing committees, the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee’s agenda focuses on issues critical to the future of farming and farm communities. As the "engine of the economy," agriculture constitutes a vital sector of the economies of most Southern states. A principal focus of the Committee's work centers on rural development and rural communities, convening a series of sessions that investigates the differences (and surprising similarities) between rural and urban America and how to begin to bridge the divides between these communities.
Recent Committee initiatives include rural housing, ag education, updates on international trade and agriculture, consolidation in the farm sector, state actions on animal welfare, and conservation and farm land preservation. Other issues in which the Committee has long-standing interest include the status of the rural South, and food safety and security. The Committee has focused on the changing face of agriculture across America and conditions in the rural South. Additionally, the Committee works annually with public and private agencies, local and federal officials, and the land grant university system to assure the continued vitality of the region’s farm and rural communities.
More SLC Research into Agriculture
Policy Analysis | April 2018
Webinar | June 2017
SLC Regional Resource | December 2016
Policy Analysis | September 2016
Policy Analysis | November 2015
SLC Regional Resource | January 2015
Webinar | October 2014
Policy Analysis | September 2014
SLC Issue Alert | June 2014
Webinar | May 2013
SLC Regional Resource | July 2011
Policy Analysis | October 2010
SLC Regional Resource | June 2006
SLC Regional Resource | April 2006
SLC Regional Resource | July 2005
SLC Regional Resource | January 2005
SLC Regional Resource | September 2002
SLC Special Series Report | February 2002
SLC Regional Resource | July 2001
SLC Regional Resource | August 2000
SLC Regional Resource | March 2000