Capitol Roundup

Senate Ag committee advances Farm Act

The Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee approved SB 615, the North Carolina Farm Act of 2017, on Thursday. NCFB strongly supports the bill, which includes a few particularly noteworthy provisions. The bill clarifies that farm buildings or structures used for agritourism are exempt from county zoning if the farm holds a sales-tax exemption certificate or is enrolled in the present-use value program. The agritourism provision also clarifies the definition of agritourism activities to include weddings, receptions, pick-your-own operations and other events held on a farm because of its farm or rural setting. Further, the bill clarifies the definition of “farm building” under the state’s building code. The bill removes county zoning authority for hog farms of 600,000 or more pounds of steady state live weight; ends the requirement that farm trucks traveling within the state must have a U.S. DOT number and markings on the side of the trucks; ends the requirement that a hog lagoon may only be closed by a professional engineer; includes grazing fees in the calculation of farm income for PUV; and permits owners of boarding operations to sell or dispose of animals left on their premises after two months without payment under a boarding contract. The bill will receive further consideration in Senate committees next week.

Tuesday, the House Finance Committee gave its approval to HB 880, PUV for Beekeeping Property. The bill creates a new classification within the present-use value program for land used year-round for beekeeping activities under some conditions. To qualify, a landowner must use the land throughout the year to raise bees for sale. The land must be between 5 and 20 acres, must house at least 50 hives, and must average $1,000 in sales over a three-year period. The bill goes to the House floor next.

Finally this week, the House released proposed subcommittee budgets Thursday and announced it would debate and vote on the full budget next week.

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