Capitol Roundup is NC Farms Bureau’s weekly video and email report that summarizes key legislative developments and explains in clear terms how those developments affect agriculture.
NC Senate Revisits Farm Act
A bill important to farmers from the previous legislative session could soon be revived. SB 315, The NC Farm Act of 2019, might begin moving again. As we left it last year, the Farm Act conference report had passed the Senate but not the House. The NC Senate voted this week to reconsider the conference report, which means the conference report can be modified before being voted on by both chambers. It is likely that the newly negotiated bill will be discussed next week. As previously reported, the bill would:
- Ban smokable hemp as of June 1, 2020 and give the NCDA & CS additional authority to regulate hemp cultivation and the manufacture and labeling of hemp products;
- provide a procedure by which a landowner may reclaim unused easements from a utility company;
- clarify that left-turning farm equipment has the right-of-way when there is a passing vehicle;
- broaden the allowable uses for farm advertising signs;
- add hunting, fishing and shooting sports to the definition of agritourism;
- establish a North Carolina sweet potato brand;
- clarify the appeal process for present-use value decisions;
- make confidential individual farmer information generated by Soil & Water Conservation districts;
- and clarify that a digester may be built on a swine farm without triggering additional performance standards. The bill’s provisions regarding smokable hemp and shooting sports are likely to be revised or removed.
This week, the House concurred with changes made by the Senate to HB 1079, Various Sales Tax Changes. As reported in the last edition of Capitol Roundup, the bill clarifies that livestock sold to a qualified farmer at auction is exempt from sales tax. (Do we need to say what constitutes a “qualified” farmer?) The bill now heads to the Governor for his signature.
And finally, both chambers began committee work on several “mini” budget bills this week, signaling the beginning of the public budget process. Most indications point to continued work on these smaller, more focused budget bills rather than on a single large budget bill.