Mississippi’s legislators and statewide elected officials have been hard at work this month working for the people of Mississippi, including Farm Bureau members.

Key Legislative Bills

The Mississippi Senate and House worked to develop and pass several pieces of legislation that would affect Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation members in February.

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the following bills.

  • SB 2118 – The bill would increase penalties for those that steal pecans from growers.
  • SB 2272 – The bill would extend a repealer in part of Mississippi’s Boll Weevil eradication program.
  • SB 2291 – The bill would create a tax card for farmers issued by DOR. Currently to receive a reduced sales tax rate on certain items, a farmer must sign an affidavit with different retail stores at every store he or she purchases from every year. This bill would allow the farmer to apply for the exemption through the DOR and receive a tax card that will last for four years.
  • SB 2408 – This bill would increase the cottage food sales amount from $20K to $35K and would allow for online advertising.
  • SB 2725 – This bill, also referred to as the Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Act, would authorize the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to create a state plan for the regulation of the growing of industrial hemp. The bill would set the allowable THC amount at three percent, would require processors to be bonded and would require growers to have a permit.

The House Agriculture Committee passed the following bills.

  • HB 326 – This bill would increase the maximum annual gross sales of a cottage food operation to $35K and authorize cottage food businesses to advertise online.
  • HB 551 – This bill, also referred to as the Mississippi Seafood Marketing Law of 2020, would require consumer notice and labeling of country of origin on all foreign and imported seafood.
  • HB 609 – This bill would eliminate a small exemption for the sale of raw goat milk. After passing the House Agriculture Committee, this bill was sent to the Public Health Committee.
  • HB 687 – This bill, also referred to as the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation, would extend the repealer on the requirement that audits be submitted by November 15.
  • HB 1027 – This bill, also referred to as the Emerging Crop Loan Program, would increase cap per use from $200K to $250K and increase the lifetime cap from $400K to $500K.
  • HB 1208 – This bill is also referred to as the Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Act.
  • HB 1566 – This bill, also referred to as the Future of Mississippi Agriculture Bill, would provide for increased workforce development, increased funding for nuisance animal control and increased funding for the Agricultural Theft Bureau.

The Senate Finance Committee passed the following bills.

  • SB 2319 – This bill would clarify the reduced sales tax rate on certain logging equipment.
  • SB 2328 – This bill, authored by Senator Chuck Younger, would increase the maximum amount of money a farmer can borrow through the Mississippi Development Authority’s Emerging Crop Loan Program.

The Senate Judiciary A Committee passed the following bills.

  • SB 2513 – This bill also authored by Younger, would conform Mississippi’s Livestock Liability laws to the state’s remaining tort law. Currently, when an individual hits livestock on a state or federal highway, the owner of the livestock bears the burden of proof to show they were not negligent in the livestock escaping. This is not the law in any surrounding state or on county roads. The bill would delete this provision.

The Senate Wildlife Committee passed the following bills.

  • SB 2733 – This bill, authored by Senator Walter Michel, would allow the Mississippi Wildlife Commission to extend a hunting season (except on migratory birds) through a weekend when a season ends on a Friday evening.

“This month has been busy for bills related to issues impacting our farmers,” Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick said. “The hard work our legislators are putting in does not go unnoticed.”

Bills must pass out of committee by March 6 in order to stay alive during this legislative session. Currently, more than 1,500 bills or resolutions have been filed.

Farm Bureau Sponsored Legislative Events

The Sharkey/Issaquena County Farm Bureaus hosted their annual legislative breakfast this month. They heard updates from Senator Briggs Hopson, Senate Appropriation Chair Kevin Ford, who authored the House Concurrent Resolution passed by the House and Senate supporting the completion of the pumps, and Senator Joseph Thomas.

Bolivar County Farm Bureau also hosted a legislative recognition breakfast. During the breakfast, a large crowd of farmers met with Central District Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons, Senator Sarita Simmons, and Representatives Abe Hudson, Orlando Paden, Tracey Rosebud and Otis Anthony.

Rankin County Farm Bureau held a legislative breakfast to thank their representatives for their hard work. The Farm Bureau members in attendance had the opportunity to discuss issues with an array of city, county and state elected officials.

“We appreciate our county Farm Bureaus taking the time to host their legislators,” McCormick said. “Events like these legislative breakfasts provide our members with the opportunity to discuss issues and educate our state officials on the needs of the agriculture industry.”

Kemper County Farm Bureau members visited the Capitol this month to meet with their House member and be recognized in the Senate.