The dinner was preceded by a reception for members to mingle.
The speakers during the dinner included: GAC Chairman Jimmy Champion, GAC President Bryan Tolar and keynote speaker Wesley Langdale.
Langdale spoke about furthering the agricultural education of students through Destination Ag, a program that aims to show kids the basics of agriculture and the benefits of choosing an agricultural career. The program was created in part by the Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation and the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
Tolar spoke about highlights from the recent year. A few points he addressed were: an update on the Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption (GATE) program, a national genetically modified organisms (GMO) labeling bill, and the proposed overtime regulations.
“We wanted to share with our membership the action that had been taken to protect the GATE program, most importantly. Not only to protect it for growers, but also to help ensure that we don’t create new regulations that affect retailers,” said Toler. “We don’t need the program to become a burden for our retail sector, but we also want it to be strong for our producers.” Tolar said that a watchful eye will always be on the program.
In regards to the national GMO-labeling bill, Tolar said it was of great importance because of the unnecessary confusion that was created by different states trying to form their own versions of the bill. “Being able to work with Congress to pass legislation that makes it uniform across the nation is a big plus for our industry. Everyone has the same set of rules that they are working with moving forward as far as labeling food products that contain GMOs,” Tolar said.
“We all know they [GMOs] are safe, but consumers are still asking questions. Ultimately, we are working to provide a safe food source for not only our country, but all across the world,” Tolar said.
Regarding the overtime regulations, Tolar said, “What was proposed by the Department of Labor was a huge overreach. So we were very pleased when the courts stepped in late in the process and said that they’re not going to allow the new rule to go into effect.” Tolar stated that he now feels there is a great opportunity to come up with a program that supports the workforce, but doesn’t provide an overly burdensome system.
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