Tennessee lawmakers passed several laws this year to help rural communities and I am proud to serve the many rural areas of the 28th District. One of the highlights of the 2019 legislative year was passage of a budget which focuses on the needs of rural Tennesseans. There were great strides this session to benefit the rural communities of Tennessee and some of those are listed below.
Farms/Agriculture – This session’s initiatives included economic development and agricultural advancements that support jobs and propel progress in the state’s agricultural communities. Agriculture is 13 percent of the state’s economy, but many believe the industry is still emerging, including development of the technology industry which can advance it. Legislation passed this year includes development of agricultural education programs for students in Tennessee’s public schools. In addition, new laws approved this year places a continued emphasis on expanding broadband to unserved or remote areas, opening them up to economic investment and job growth.
Agriculture / Budget Highlights – Key agricultural highlights of the 2019-2020 budget includes $500,000 recurring and $500,000 non-recurring to provide funding for grants and services to agribusiness in Tennessee’s rural communities and distressed counties. The appropriations bill also includes $600,000 recurring to the Future Farmers of America and to the 4-H Foundation.
Rural Initiatives / Budget Highlights – Key rural initiatives contained in this year’s budget include $25 million in non-recurring funds for GIVE Community grants to upgrade and expand K-12 Career and Technical Education programs in rural areas; $750,000 recurring and $750,000 non-recurring for increased rural public health student and faculty recruitments; $2 million in non-recurring funds for additional APARC grants to enhance rural high school career and technical education programs; and $20 million for the Broadband Initiative for the third of a three-year initiative to increase broadband accessibility through grants and tax credits in rural areas. To enhance rural jobs, the budget provides $15 million to promote innovation and entrepreneurship aimed at increasing new businesses from research and development activities throughout the state; for rural development grants and loans for small, minority and women-owned rural businesses.
Removing Sales Tax on Agricultural Water – Another bill, SB1460, aiding Tennessee farmers passed this year 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, SB713 was approved which exempts agricultural trailers used to transport livestock; farm products; 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.
Slow Moving Vehicle Exemption for Farm Vehicles – In addition, farmers will be aided by a new law that excludes certain farming equipment from the slow-moving vehicles requirements under Tennessee law in SB1496.
Presently, vehicles traveling at least ten miles per hour below the lawful maximum speed must pull off the road so others can pass, when five or more vehicles are lined behind them. With modern farming equipment increasing in size it has become unsafe and nearly impossible for them to pull off the road. This legislation addresses this issue by amending current law to specify that farm tractors and implements of husbandry do not apply.
Contact Senator Hensley at
425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746
Nashville TN 37243
Toll Free 1-800-449-8366
855 Summertown Highway
Hohenwald TN 38462
Cell Phone 931-212-8823