Georgia Governor Nathan Deal called the General Assembly back to Atlanta for a special legislative session. Lawmakers focused on the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael to agriculture and rural communities in the state. According to the Georgia Agribusiness Council, legislation was created to provide relief to timber and pecan growers as well as additional funding for programs that can help Georgia’s farmers and agribusinesses survive during these difficult times.
Timberland Reforestation Income Tax Credit
House Bill 4EX designated $200 million in tax credits to commercial timber and pecan growers impacted by Hurricane Michael in a 28-county disaster area. The credits will be awarded in an amount equal to the casualty loss deduction filed on the taxpayer’s federal income return. HB 4EX is tied to reforestation efforts and is expected to restore approximately 500,000 with a cap of $400 per acre. The tax credits will be refundable as well as transferable, which will allow landowners to get much needed funds to recover from the storm.
HB 1EX: $270 Million in Funding for Hurricane Michael Disaster Relief
Additional money was appropriated to go directly into state agencies that have a role in helping those in rural Georgia affected by the storm. While the total devastation will be well beyond the dollar amount allocated by Georgia, these funds will be helpful in bridging the gap for agribusinesses until federal disaster funds can be directed to those in need.
Ag and Timber Highlights of HB 1EX:
- $55 million for emergency disaster relief assistance to Georgia farmers in counties impacted by the storm through a system of secured loans by the Georgia Development Authority. This pool of funds will be used to secure agricultural loans in rural Georgia to assist producers and financial institutions until federal disaster payments are made.
- $20 million for emergency disaster relief assistance as approved by the State Forestry Commission for cleanup efforts for Georgia timberland owners in counties impacted by Hurricane Michael
- $7 million to replace firefighting equipment within the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) that will be used in clearing timberland destruction and other debris caused by the hurricane. GFC manages over 650 pieces of heavy equipment, including bulldozers, transport tucks and fire trucks. $21.9 million worth of equipment is already eligible for replacement but has been put on hold due to budget restraints.
- $50 million to pay for the state match for federal disaster assistance funding for expenses related to damages and operating costs associated with Hurricane Michael. Eleven state agencies have contributed to the disaster response, including the Departments of Agriculture, Community Supervision, Corrections, Defense, Human Services, Natural Resources, Public Health, Public Safety, Transportation, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and the state Forestry Commission.