Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd: Farms, Agriculture, and Rural Tennessee

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   Industrial Hemp / Federal Compliance – Tennessee farmers will be aided by new legislation, Public Chapter 87, which brings the state’s laws regarding hemp into compliance with new federal regulations enacted by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The action will enhance this growing product in Tennessee which has helped to replace shrinking tobacco crops. The measure requires the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture to prepare and submit a plan to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in order for Tennessee to obtain primacy over hemp regulation, as authorized by the new federal law. It changes and also replaces the term “industrial hemp,” in state law with “hemp” but maintains the definition of the plant as containing as 0.3 percent THC or less.

   Removing Sales Tax on Agricultural Water – Public Chapter 427 is another bill aiding Tennessee farmers. This legislation exempts water from the sales tax that is being used for agricultural purposes. More Tennessee producers are relying on a metered water source for water in their farming operations. Manufacturing has similar sales tax exemptions and water, which comes in direct contact with the product during the manufacturing process, is exempt from sales tax. This tax can add up for many producers. For example, the average poultry operation using metered water in Tennessee is over $1700 annually.

   Sales Tax Exemption / Agricultural Trailers – Similarly, Public Chapter 178 was approved which exempts agricultural trailers used to transport livestock, farm products, and nursery stock; or equipment, supplies, and products used in agriculture from state and local sales and use tax.  Currently, livestock trailers and trailers used only in production, such as silage trailers, are the only types of agricultural trailers which are exempt from the sales tax.

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice in Nashville. If there is ever any issue I can assist you with, please contact my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at: rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions as we continue to protect Tennessee’s conservative values throughout the remainder of the 111th General Assembly.