This year, my colleagues and I strongly supported our farmers and agriculture industry professionals through innovation and education, as well as through tax cuts and additional measures.
In 2019, we established the groundbreaking Agriculture Education & Youth Participation Task Force, which will encourage and promote agricultural education opportunities so Tennessee students are better prepared for successful careers in the agriculture industry.
This task force — created with passage of House Bill 945 — will analyze and make recommendations on various topics, such as agricultural education structure and delivery; emerging fields in agriculture and training and knowledge required for advancement in those fields; and integrating agricultural education and agricultural career readiness goals into the Tennessee Pathways initiative.
As part of our continued commitment to reduce taxes and eliminate burdensome regulations, we exempted all trailers used for agricultural purposes from the sales and use tax.
We also slashed almost $1 million annually in local sales and use taxes on water furnished by utility districts exclusively used by farmers or for farming operations. These significant reductions will allow our farmers and industry professionals to save more of their hard-earned money.
Additionally, we enacted policy that will allow Commercial Driver’s Licenses to be issued for those in farm-related service industries, and we expanded the minimum size requirements that agricultural property must meet in order to be eligible for a Greenbelt Property classification for the purpose of property tax assessments.
Finally, we expanded the types of crop insurance offered under a limited lines producer license to include damage to crops caused by unfavorable weather conditions, fire or lightning, flood, insect infestation, disease, or other yield-reducing conditions or perils, in addition to present coverage guidelines.
Having grown up on a farm, I believe our farmers are the backbone of Tennessee’s economy. We have more than 66,000 farms representing 10 million acres in production, and this important industry directly affects the lives of more than 6.6 million citizens with a $3.3 billion total economic impact.
As technology, training, and equipment improves, we must find new ways to support our farmers. This will ensure the agriculture industry continues to drive Tennessee’s economy so we remain a national leader.
William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.