2013 Policy Development Backgrounders

Annexation (pdf)
A common reason active farmers do not want to be in the city is because they do not perceive they get the full benefit of services in return for the taxes paid. Proposed legislation in 2013 attempted to give those property owners in a proposed area the right for a referendum and thus the ability to decide whether they will be annexed or not. The Tennessee General Assembly has placed cities under a temporary moratorium on forced annexations of farm or residential property until May 15, 2014. What should the role of TFBF be in cases where legislation is introduced proposing annexation by majority vote only? Should Farm Bureau work with sponsors to include or exclude any provisions relative to agricultural lands?

Drones in Agriculture (pdf)
In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be allowing commercial and private Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to use the National Airspace System. It is speculated one of the biggest markets for drones would be in agriculture, reducing input costs for agricultural operations. Many citizens have privacy concerns about drones. A majority of these concerns are focused on government owned drones used for surveillance. Commercial and private drones are raising new concerns. The minimum altitude of flight for the drones would be approximately 500 feet in most areas, well within the operational range of modern recording devices. Citizens are concerned their neighbors or businesses could use drones to view their property without consent. Many are worried about the privacy and trespassing implications from these incidents. Agricultural operations are concerned about drones operating near their facilities because of the trespassing and security implications.

Farm Equipment Safety on Roadways (pdf)
As a result of urban encroachment, heightened driver distractions, increasing driver impatience and other factors, roadways have become more dangerous than ever for agricultural equipment operators. What should be done to improve the safety of Tennessee farmers while transporting equipment? What guidelines should escort drivers follow in order to be safe and fair to all users of public roads?

Farm Lease (pdf)
Land rental agreements are an integral part of farming. A typical rental agreement that exists across the state is an oral lease agreement. These leases are usually based on a “handshake agreement” and the farmer keeps control of the land based on a past agreement. Competition for farmland, changes in ownership and estate settlements have increased the number of disputes between farmer tenants and landowners wanting to terminate the oral agreement. No statutory law protects farmer tenants in this type of dispute.

Fracking (pdf)
Abundant reserves of shale gas have been discovered across America. East TN is above a major expanse of gas rich Marcellus shale. Shale gas has the potential to become a major part of Tennessee’s economy due to rising demand of natural gas. Unlike conventional gas extraction, shale gas must be extracted by more energy intensive means. Fracking has become a controversial method nationally, especially from environmental groups. Valid concerns exist about fracking, but many concerns have become sensationalized.

Greenbelt (pdf)
The Tennessee General Assembly established the “Agricultural, Forest, and Open Space Land Act of 1976,” commonly referred to as Greenbelt, out of concern of the threat urbanization and high land taxes have on agricultural and open lands. Lands have been eligible for property tax benefits as one of three classifications: farm, forestry or open space. 93 percent of Greenbelt property is enrolled as agriculture, 7 as forest and 1/50th of 1 percent as open space. Are some “open space” lands actually being classified as agriculture or forestry?

Irrigation (pdf)
Farmers are taking advantage of the benefits from large scale irrigation. The public and policy makers on the local and state level are paying attention to the increase in irrigation. Farmers need to consider two issues related to the increase in irrigation: 1.) developing a history of use on each farm to protect individual water rights in the future, and 2.) potentially being required to comply with the state’s water management laws designed for major water users.

Livestock Protection Act (pdf)
In recent decades, farm operations have been subjected to undercover intrusion. These activities have uncovered animal abuse and malpractice, which many activists use to sensationalize their cause. The evidence is released to the public to damage the reputation of animal agriculture and cause negative economic impacts to the industry.Should the Livestock Protection Act be pursued again? How could the legislation be improved? Animal abuse is not tolerated or sanctioned by the agricultural sector and the industry is actively reiterating this point to the public.