If approved in the House, farmers in Alabama will be able to receive income tax credit credits of up to 12.5 percent of the cost of the purchase and installation of irrigation systems. SB 153, which calls for the incentives for Alabama farmers, pushing them to better irrigated crops, passed in the Senate. The House votes April 3.
"This is a common-sense approach to protecting the sustainability of Alabama crops, which directly affects the livelihood of our farmers and many rural agricultural communities," said bill sponsor Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, in a release. "Increasing access to irrigation systems will greatly reduce the threat imposed by a drought, increase the yield and spur rural economic growth."
Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, is a co-sponsor of the bill and serves as the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman.
"One of the biggest risk factors for our row crop farmers every year is whether or not we'll see sufficient rainfall," Whatley said in a release. "This bill will help eliminate that threat. Additionally, both the state and local economies will benefit because farmers will be buying Alabama-developed irrigation systems and our farmers will be increasing production simply by keeping the crops better hydrated."
According to Senate reports, Alabama has among the least amount of acreage irrigated (130,000 acres) nationally. Neighboring Georgia and Mississippi each boast 1.5 million acres of land irrigated.
A Senate release reads, "Senator Orr said research shows that if the state were to convert 50 percent of the current row crop agricultural acreage to irrigation, the statewide impact would be more than $200 million per year. Additionally, if Alabama were to put approximately 500,000 acres now out of production back into row crop production under irrigation, the total annual impact would be nearly $750 million."
The Legislature met Tuesday through Thursday and will resume next Tuesday with a number of important bills on the table, including jobs incentive packages introduced by Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka, and DuWayne Bridges, R-Valley.