Wednesday afternoon, state lawmakers kicked off the short session of the 2017-18 biennium, when the focus is on making revisions to the two-year budget adopted in 2017. According to revenue forecasts, appropriators expect to have about $350 million in revenue surplus to allocate as they adjust the spending plan.
Also Wednesday, SB 711, the NC Farm Act of 2018, was introduced, containing two provisions that were recommended by the N.C. Ag & Forestry Awareness Study Commission, which met several times following the close of the 2017 long session. The first provision deals with changes to the N.C. Handlers Act. The N.C. Handlers Act currently provides certain protections to producers of fruits and vegetables when dealing with handlers of their produce, provided they have a written contract. The bill would amend the Act to require more persons and businesses that buy, receive, process for resale and engage in certain other parts of commerce to comply with the Act regardless of whether or not a written contract exists. The second provision would make certain confidential information generated by federal agencies and collected by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Soil and Water Division confidential under state law. Additional agriculture-related provisions will likely be added to the bill as it moves through the legislative process.