“We don’t know how many farmers will take advantage of this incentive and what crops they will grow, so we can’t calculate the exact impact of the legislation. But, we can estimate that for every $1 of tax credit, this legislation will generate $70 to $80 of direct economic income within the first 10 years,” says Fowler.

Irrigation also could lower the state’s reliance on imported grain, he says. “With irrigation, much of the corn and soybeans used in poultry feed could be profitably produced here, creating thousands of jobs.

Alabama currently lags behind neighboring states Georgia and Mississippi in its amount of irrigated acreage. While Georgia and Mississippi each have about 1.5 million acres of irrigation land, Alabama has only 130,000 acres.

The Department of Revenue is developing rules for implementing the credit. For more information, farmers should contact the department at 334-242-1170 or visit the website, revenue.alabama.gov.

Another new law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor protects farmers from being sued by an agritourism participant who is injured due to an inherent risk of the agritourism activity.

The law applies to U-Pick farms, farmers’ markets, livestock shows, historic agriculture displays, and farming and ranching activities.

Farmers may not be held liable if an agritourism participant is injured due to the condition of the land or water, the behavior of wild or domesticated animals, the dangers of structures or equipment used in everyday farming operations, or the failure of a participant to follow directions, obey warnings or use reasonable caution.

However, a farmer could be liable for failing to post proper warning signs, failing to properly train staff, failing to care for sick animals, or failing to make participants aware of hazardous conditions beyond the typical dangers found on a farm.

Agritourism attractions must have a warning sign posted in a visible location, such as at the entrance or near a cash register. The law stipulates the size of the lettering and the wording of the sign.

State lawmakers also passed the Farm-To-School Procurement Act, allowing schools to purchase up to $100,000 worth of unprocessed, home-grown products from local farms for use in school cafeterias.

Other new legislation that should prove beneficial to Alabama farmers include laws that discourage the theft of copper and other metals, clarifies timber harvest notification requirements, and secures funding for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

phollis@farmpress.com